Book Sense National Gift Card Poised to Launch

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Very soon, bookstores with Book Sense will able to sign up for the new Book Sense Gift Card program. This innovative program will provide booksellers with a number of choices regarding card designs and processing options. ABA has partnered with Givex, one of the fastest-growing transaction processors, whose sophisticated service will allow for a customized solution for the more than 1,200 bookstores participating in Book Sense. In addition to being able to sell and redeem Book Sense gift cards in their bookstores, members participating in BookSense.com will have the ability to sell and redeem gift cards online.

Why a Gift Card?

Gift cards (credit-card size, plastic equivalents to paper gift certificates with a magnetic strip, a legible number, and a bar code printed on the back) offer many benefits. Current retail statistics show that more than 70 percent of all gift certificate sales are in an electronic format (gift cards or e-gift certificates), and many booksellers are convinced that the question is not if they will sell gift cards, but when.

Book Sense is launching this program so that its members can maintain their competitive edge in a very difficult retail environment. All consumer research indicates that most of today's retail customers embrace and demand this technology. And, many retail outlets show at least a 15 to 20 percent increase in sales when gift cards are introduced. Because gift cards can be marketed anywhere in the bookstore (gift cards have no value until activated by a bookseller), customers often purchase gift cards on impulse.

In addition to increased sales, gift cards provide increased security, as an authorized bookseller must activate cards. Gift cards also offer booksellers a far more precise system for daily reconciliation and tracking of all sales and redemptions. For more information on exactly how the cards work, click here.

Selling, Processing, and Redeeming Gift Cards

Booksellers will be able to choose from a variety of methods to process gift cards -- a secure Book Sense branded Web site, a terminal (Internet communication or direct dial), or the telephone. A commitment to one particular method is not required, and training will be available for all methods.

All money will be transferred using automated clearinghouse (ACH) electronic transfers. Each bookseller will be asked to complete paperwork providing ABA with bank account information and permission to debit and/or credit money each month. Similar to the paper gift certificate program, booksellers will keep the money from the sale of the gift card unless the gift card is redeemed at a different bookstore with Book Sense. The Book Sense Gift Card will not have expiration dates or inactivity fees. Net amounts will be transferred via ACH once a month. Bookstores will receive an e-mail statement 7 to 10 days prior to the money transfer. Stores will also have access to detailed reports via the Internet on a real-time basis. All bank account information will be kept confidential and in a password-protected ABA database. More details will be provided with sign-up materials and will be posted on BookWeb.

Gift Card Designs

After receiving input from booksellers, ABA has created a variety of generic Book Sense gift card designs with coordinating presenters. The card-stock presenters are designed to allow merchandising around the store and to act as an envelope when the card is given as a gift. Booksellers will be able to add their store logo and information to the card for an additional fee. New designs will be offered as the program continues to grow, including cards and presenters for special occasions and specific book titles.

Costs

There are fees associated with this program.

Basic Fees:

  • A one-time $25 set-up fee paid upon sign-up.
  • A Book Sense Gift Card Program fee of $20 a month (paid quarterly in advance.) Fees may be pro-rated at time of sign-up. The program fee is collected to build the bad debt fund, to cover associated ACH fees and administrative costs, and to pay for other program fees charged by Givex.
  • An optional $50 training fee to cover telephone training for a bookstore's frontline staff. (This training is optional but strongly suggested.)

Equipment Costs:

Costs will vary depending on the store's method of selling and redeeming gift cards.

Processing via the Internet -- If the store already has Internet access at or near the cash register, it is likely that no additional equipment costs will be incurred unless you want a receipt printer, scanner (bar code reader), or swipe machine. Access to the Internet can be accomplished via a separate computer and does not have to be via your existing POS system.

Stand-alone Terminals -- Purchasing a terminal will range from $375 for a dial-up system to $675 for a Web-based system. Renting options will also be available.

Telephone -- Booksellers will also have the option of selling and redeeming cards via telephone, but this is not suggested for medium- to high-volume users. The cost of this method is the price of a 30-60 second call to area code 416 (Toronto).

Card and Program Services Fees:
(Payment due upon delivery to bookstore unless otherwise noted.)

  • A 50¢ fee per card (covers all transactions including initial activation, redemptions, balance checks, and adjustments).
  • A 30¢ reloading fee per card (charged only when money is added to an already activated Gift Card.)

Generic Card Options

  • Generic Book Sense gift card (minimum order of 250): 22¢ per card
  • Generic card presenter with die-cut to hold card: 8¢ per presenter
  • Order processing: $6 per order
  • Picking fee: 0.5¢ (half a cent) per card

Customizing a Generic Book Sense Design

  • To add your bookstore logo and information: A $25 set-up fee for each order plus 9¢ per card. Please allow 7 - 10 working days.

Custom Card Orders

  • Custom Gift Card designs using the Book Sense logo and meeting other guidelines are available. Please allow 6 - 8 weeks for production.
  • $250 set-up fee
  • 48¢ per card (minimum order of 1,000); 38¢ per card for orders of 5,000

Sign-up information and further details about the program will appear in Bookselling This Week over the coming weeks and in future white box mailings. For more information, click here for a Book Sense Gift Card FAQ. Questions should be addressed to Jill Perlstein, director of marketing, at (800) 637-0037 or (914) 591-2665, ext. 1283 or via e-mail at jill@booksense.com. -- Nomi Schwartz