ABA/GLBA Booksellers Forum Sparks New Ideas

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

On Tuesday, May 3, over 20 booksellers attended an ABA Booksellers Forum and Education Program, held in conjunction with the Great Lakes Booksellers Association (GLBA), at the new Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lyndhurst, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland).

"The program did what it was intended to do," said Jim Dana, executive director of GLBA. "It got booksellers together and gave them the opportunity to ask questions and talk to each other. In that respect, it was perfect. It made for a really good day."

The day's programming kicked off with a tour of the Joseph-Beth store that was followed by the two-hour session "Increasing Sales," presented by ABA Board member Russ Lawrence of Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton, Montana. This session focused on strategies for improving store profitability and for increasing customer traffic, such as the use of publisher co-op, store websites, and e-mail.

Those attendees who spoke with BTW said Lawrence's session was stimulating. "There was a lot of information presented, and it gave me a lot of good ideas," said Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac's Backs bookstore in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. "Now I just need to find the time to follow through!"

Mary Ann Frischkorn of The Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio, said that she appreciated seeing a seminar on increasing sales that was led by a veteran bookseller, rather than a non-bookseller expert who would just plug in "the business of bookselling" into an already fabricated presentation. "It really helps to have Russ there ... with his experience as a bookseller." She added, "I was jazzed about jumping back to bookselling and implementing these ideas."

"There was so much good information, it sparked new ideas for other seminars," commented Dana.

Following the seminar, the Booksellers Forum provided an opportunity for attendees to ask questions, express opinions, and hear from bookseller colleagues. One of the hot topics at the forum was ABA's new partnership with Constant Contact -- a company that provides services to manage e-mail marketing campaigns. Through the partnership, all participating ABA member bookstores are provided access to Constant Contact's suite of tools, which makes it easier to create and send compelling e-mail newsletters. In addition, participants earn annual rebates.

Mac's Backs' DeGaetano said that one of the biggest benefits of the day's programming for her was learning about ABA's new partnership. "That has been a big concern -- how to communicate effectively with our e-mail newsletter," she said.

Frischkorn echoed DeGaetano's sentiments and noted, "I think the new [Constant Contact] technology is going to help us to reach more customers on a more regular basis."

Other forum topics included a look at the tools available to booksellers via BookWeb.org; the importance of attending BookExpo America and regional trade shows; and the Campaign for Reader Privacy, a national grassroots petition drive calling for an amendment to Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act to ensure the privacy of bookstore and library records. --David Grogan