ABACUS: Why It's Important to Participate

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The data collection process is underway for the 2010 ABACUS Survey, an invaluable tool used by ABA members to analyze their stores’ financial results and make plans for the future.

Bookstores that submit their 2009 data to the 2010 ABACUS Survey will receive a customized report analyzing their financial results, including comparisons with other businesses based on multiple criteria (such as sales level, store size, and community type) in addition to year-to-year trending information.

In addition, owners and regular employees of stores submitting their data before the October 29 deadline can apply for the Avin Mark Domnitz Scholarship to the Sixth Annual Winter Institute. The scholarship covers travel expenses up to $350, and up to a four-night stay at the Wi6 host hotel.

Nicole Magistro of Bookworm of Edwards said that participating in the ABACUS financial survey each year helps her see what larger and more profitable stores are doing, and she uses that information to create her own fiscal goals. In 2007, Magistro moved her store to a higher traffic area, increased its square footage, added a full-service cafe, and expanded the store’s hours.

“The changes we made were a direct reflection of what we saw in our past ABACUS numbers as they related (or didn't!) to the most profitable stores in our industry,” she said. “Our bank, landlord, and colleagues were able to see how our plan fit into the larger industry trends to add high-margin items, renegotiate our occupancy expenses, and increase overall sales.”

In a 2009 column in BTW, Amy Thomas, president of Pandora's Books, wrote: “Being familiar with my business through my years of ABACUS participation meant that when I listened to Avin [Mark Domnitz, former ABA CEO] preaching the 2% solution I understood immediately what he was driving at – more than that, I knew what I had to do and how to do it. This helped us a lot through a few tough years, and continues to help keep us on track once things eased up.”

Allison Hill, president and COO of Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California, told BTW that ABACUS helps "establish goals, determine areas for potential improvement, and monitor our progress. It offers us valuable information and a broader context."

ABACUS data submission is via a completely secure, confidential electronic form and is only accessible to Martha Love, from the National Association of College Stores' (NACS) OnCampus Research, which is producing the survey for ABA this year.

Questions about submitting data to the survey should be addressed to Love at OnCampus Research via e-mail. General questions about ABACUS should be sent to ABA COO Len Vlahos via e-mail or at (800) 637-0037 ext. 6650.

Booksellers at stores that have submitted their 2009 financial data to ABACUS can apply for the Avin Mark Domnitz Scholarship by sending an e-mail with "Domnitz Scholarship" in the subject line to ABA Education Manager Lisa Winn; the e-mail should include the applicant's name, staff title, store name, and store contact information.