Firebrand's Toolan to Retire; IBPA's Bole to Succeed Him
Fran Toolan, founder and longtime head of Firebrand Group, is retiring at the end of January 2023, and will be succeeded by Angela Bole, CEO of the Independent Book Publishers Association, who will leave IBPA on November 30 and start her new position at Firebrand February 1, 2023. Toolan will continue on the Firebrand Group board of directors.
Toolan founded Firebrand as Quality Solutions in 1987. The company now includes Firebrand Technologies, which helps publishers track and manage titles from pre-acquisition through sales; NetGalley, which provides e-galleys and audio titles for reviewers and others; and Supadu, a provider of publisher e-commerce solutions in the U.S. and U.K. In February 2021, Firebrand was acquired by Media Do International (MD-i), the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Media Do Co., Ltd, one of the largest e-book distribution companies in the world.
Toolan said, "With the support of MD-i, the Firebrand Group is growing and innovating at an unparalleled rate of speed. The opportunities in front of us are very exciting, and I'm equally excited that Angela will be here to guide us going forward."
Bole said, "Firebrand has been powering the publishing industry for over 30 years through quality software solutions and a dedicated and committed staff. Given all we've learned over the past few years, I hope to build upon what's already working to enable even more efficiencies for the companies Firebrand serves. I know this will be a team effort; I couldn't be more excited to join and lead the team."
Daihei Shiohama, CEO of MD-i, added: "Both here and in Japan, we are so excited to have Angela succeed Fran. We are determined to provide utmost support to Firebrand Group with Angela as new CEO. With the annual growth rate of close to 20% in Japan's digital publishing market where NFT, XR, and other diversified elements stimulate the publishing industry, we are convinced that Angela will lead the group to uplift the global publishing industry's expansion."
Bole joined IBPA as executive director in 2013 and was made CEO in 2016. Before that, she was deputy executive director of Book Industry Study Group, where she was also interim executive director. At BISG, she headed research into consumer attitudes toward e-book reading, oversaw initiatives supporting the industry's transition to ISBN-13, and developed best practices and other documentation for use of the ONIX and EPUB standards. She also served as treasurer of the International Digital Publishers Forum from 2011 to 2014.
IBPA has established a CEO Succession Task Force to oversee the search for a new CEO; the official application period for candidates should open July 1.