Booksellers on Creating Community Connections to Foster Dialogue and Discovery

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    ABA Education logoFollowing a series of bookseller discussions at the American Booksellers Association’s 10 Spring Forums and at Winter Institute 12, ABA has compiled a comprehensive list of bookseller suggestions aimed at helping stores develop strategies for strengthening the unique role they play in their communities.

    The document, “Bookstores — An Inclusive Place for Dialogue and Discovery,” is available in the Education Curriculum on BookWeb (a username and password are required; booksellers needing login information can e-mail

    The numerous suggestions shared by booksellers from a broad range of member stores are organized under six keywords: activism, community, diversity, empathy, outreach, and sanctuary. In the second of a series of articles highlighting each keyword, here are the many suggestions provided for the category of community.

    The suggestions below may not work for every store; booksellers are encouraged to consider their store culture, community, and business goals when beginning any new initiative. Booksellers who have implemented any of these suggestions in their stores are encouraged to let ABA know.


    • Offer windows into other people’s experiences and serve as a mirror of your community.
    • Recognize that people in your community may have many different perspectives. You may be confronted with ideas or opinions that you find challenging; be prepared.
    • Try to offer something for everyone on your event calendar.
    • Be conscious of gender assumptions — don’t assume what he, she, or they like.
    • Use social media to celebrate all in your community.
    • If you can, offer paid time off for booksellers to volunteer.
    • Create experiences in bookstores for refugees or other transient populations.
    • Work with your state and/or local poet laureates to create inspiring programming.
    • Highlight book recommendations from children in your community.
    • Invite a community nonprofit to provide holiday gift-wrapping services.
    • Host science workshops for adults and children.
    • Work with your community nonprofits: SPCA, City Year, library, domestic and homeless shelters, etc.
    • Run book drives, charity drives, and/or food drives during in-store events.
    • Provide realtors with housewarming gifts to give to those who move into your community.
    • Broaden your understanding of your community to create more inclusive book group discussions.
    • Remember to connect and work with other independent businesses in your community.