California Gatherings to Feature ABA Forum & Education Program

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The American Booksellers Association will be offering a Booksellers Forum and the education session "Participating in the Digital Revolution" in both Northern and Southern California in April. The programs, which will be facilitated by ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, COO Oren Teicher, and Board member Michael Tucker of Books Inc. in San Francisco, will be held in conjunction with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association's (NCIBA) Spring Gathering on Sunday, April 15, in San Francisco, and in conjunction with the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) on Tuesday, April 17, in Long Beach. All members of ABA, NCIBA, and SCIBA are invited to participate in ABA's free programming.

At the ABA Bookseller Forum & Strategic Planning Session, booksellers will have the opportunity to voice concerns and to offer input on the direction of the association as it formulates its next five-year Strategic Plan. ABA's Domnitz, Teicher, and Tucker will be on hand to discuss both regional and national issues affecting independent booksellers and to provide information about the association's programs and initiatives. All bookstore owners and staff are encouraged to attend the forum.

"Participating in the Digital Revolution" will demonstrate how technology is changing the way we interact and acquire and use information. Among the topics for discussion are digitization of content, social networking, and open source and print-on-demand, and how they affect independent booksellers today, as well as their ramifications for the future. This session will demonstrate how savvy booksellers are using MySpace, Craigslist, Second Life, and blogs to market their stores and sell more books.

Northern California

NCIBA's Spring Gathering begins at 8:45 a.m. at the Thoreau Center of The Presidio in San Francisco with a continental breakfast and a chance to converse with other booksellers. This will be followed by a presentation by Anita Amirrezvani, who will discuss, and then autograph, galleys of her debut novel, The Blood of Flowers (Little, Brown).

From 10:15 a.m. until 11:45 a.m., NCIBA will present an extension of the ABA Winter Institute session "How to Be the Story: Developing and Implementing a Public Relations Plan," which demonstrated how a comprehensive PR plan can have a greater impact than advertising on a bookstore's visibility, and at a much lower cost. At this roundtable workshop, moderated by Stacey Lewis of City Lights Publishing, participants will be asked to use the Winter Institute syllabus as a starting point to create practical PR strategies for their bookstores.

Also from 10:15 a.m. until 11:45 a.m., NCIBA will present "Independent Business Alliances and Shop Local Campaigns," a panel discussion featuring a report on the just-completed economic study of San Francisco retail that demonstrates the value of locally owned businesses to the city's economy. This session will also look at how successful business alliances and Shop Local campaigns have been launched in other California communities. Panelists will be NCIBA Executive Director Hut Landon, representing the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance (SFLOMA); Steve Costa Point Reyes Books; and a representative of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).

At noon, NCIBA will offer a buffet lunch featuring Jonathan Lethem and his new novel, You Don't Love Me Yet, a comic, romantic story revolving around members of an alternative L.A. rock band.

Following lunch, at 1:30 p.m., ABA's Domnitz and Ken White of SFSU Bookstore in San Francisco, will present "Participating in the Digital Revolution."

Also at 1:30 p.m., NCIBA will again build on an ABA Winter Institute session, when moderator Kevin Ryan of Green Apple Books leads "Getting the Most Out of Your Staff." At the Winter Institute, participants learned about hiring people who will add strength to a bookstore, recognizing and building upon employees' unique abilities, and creating a work environment that motivates staff. At this roundtable workshop, participants will address some of the how-to questions that naturally arise. All attendees will be required to share with the group either a hiring/training/managing challenge, or a best-practice policy that has been successful. (A copy of the Winter Institute syllabus, both online and in print, will be available in advance for all attendees; copies will also be on hand at the workshop.)

At 3:00 p.m., Domnitz, Teicher, and Tucker will lead the ABA Bookseller Forum & Strategic Planning Session.

The Spring Gathering concludes with an NCIBA annual tradition, a wine-and-cheese reception, at 4:30 p.m., where all are welcome to have one more conversation before hitting the road.

The Thoreau Center of The Presidio is located at 1016 Lincoln Boulevard in San Francisco.

Southern California

The Renaissance Long Beach Hotel will be the site of the education program and ABA Bookseller Forum & Strategic Planning Session on Tuesday, April 17, in conjunction with the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association.

The day begins at 10:00 a.m. with ABA's "Participating in the Digital Revolution," where Domnitz will once again show booksellers how to market themselves utilizing MySpace, Craigslist, Second Life, and blogs.

Then, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., over a free lunch, Domnitz, Teicher, and Tucker will present a look at ABA's programs and gather booksellers' feedback to help in formulating the next ABA Strategic Plan.

Following ABA's forum, SCIBA will host a workshop, "Sales Reps' Pick of the Lists" for spring, summer, and a peak at fall, an opportunity to speak with reps one-on-one at exhibit tables.

SCIBA Executive Director Jennifer Bigelow said, "All [of the programming] is designed to help booksellers sell more books and to promote independent bookselling in Southern California to the book buying public and to the bookselling industry."

The day will end with cocktails and conversation with Andrea Portes, the author of Hick (Unbridled), a May Book Sense Pick, and with the SCIBA Board of Directors.

The Renaissance Long Beach Hotel is located at 111 East Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach.