Approaching the 25th Anniversary of NMBA, Richard Polese was asked to share our history and progress through the years at the November 9 Networking Luncheon. Richard served as President, then Executive Director during our first decade. He is now our Historian and keeper of archives.
Pouring though Libro Book News of those times, he discovered that many of our current programs and services began during the earliest years. As well, Barbara Beasley Murphy and Elaine Coleman held early NMBA Board offices (treasurer, secretary) and both continue to be active with NMBA today.
We started as the Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association (RMBPA), a gathering of publishers in Northern New Mexico and up through Denver. Then came the respected Guadalajara Book Fair in 1994, with New Mexico chosen as its “Guest Country.” They needed a solid “national” book nonprofit, so we gathered in Santa Fe and became the New Mexico Book Association. RMBPA continued as a partner and later became Publishers Association of the West (PubWest), now centered in Oregon.
Richard was surprised to find that our Second Friday Networking Luncheons began in April 1995, and continue to this day. Membership has been $50 annually from the start. Libro Book News first appeared in April 1995. Libro’s first masthead sported our distinctive Zia Sun symbol, with unfolding book pages taking the place of sun rays. That very year we cosponsored the Border Book Festival in Mesilla and were in the aisle at the American Book Sellers Association Convention in Chicago. The ABA Convention later became BookExpo America. Your NMBA reps have been a bookselling presence in several national and regional shows since.
NMBA published three comprehensive editions of New Mexico’s Book World from 1997 through 2006. They described publishers, booksellers, distributors, libraries, and printers, as well as editors and designers serving in our state. Did you know that writing and publishing have been a strong element in New Mexico’s story for over four centuries? The first was Gaspar de Villagra’s “Historia de la Nueva Mexico.” It appeared in 1598 and remains in print today from UNM Press.
Our Book-in-Hand Honor was first presented in 1998 to the Collected Works Bookstore and staff. Richard Harris became NMBA President in 2000 and served for years. He is honored today in the Harris Award program that supplies standout Southwestern classics to deserving schools and libraries.
In 2002 NMBA helped Cadelora Versace produce Southwest Bookviews, a fine regional book review journal. That same year we landed at Tiny’s Restaurant for the first time. We’ve gathered there for our popular monthly Networking Luncheons nearly every month since, thanks to the generous welcome by owner J. R. Palermo and his staff.
In 2004 Cinny Green and Maureen Burdock took the helm of Libro, we had a table at BookExpo again in Chicago, and our first FlashNews appeared in every NMBA member’s inbox. That same year NMBA gained a large office and meeting space on Santa Fe’s Second Street. We had many happy beginnings in those first years and most continue to serve to this day.
Richard will share the lively second half of our history at NMBA’s Winter Fiesta in January.
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