Children’s Institute Education: What You Need to Know Part II

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

This is the second in a two-part recap of 2021 Children’s Institute (Ci9) education, which features three key points from each session. View the first part of this series here. Full recaps of each session can be viewed on the Education Resources page on

Part two will cover:

  • The Future of Events: How Independent Bookstores Can Lead the Hybrid-Event Market
  • Organizational Structure for Small Stores
  • Planning In-Store Operations for the Holidays
  • Taking Off With TikTok
  • Industry & the Innovation of Nontraditional Stores

The Future of Events: How Independent Bookstores Can Lead the Hybrid-Event Market

  1. When scheduling events, keep the general lifestyles of your audience in mind. For example, don’t schedule an event for middle-grade readers at 9:00 p.m. on a school night, when they’d be in bed. But, weekend afternoons, or after virtual school lets out, could be a perfect time.
  2. While return on investment is important, remember to keep return on experience in mind, too. Consider forming partnerships in your community, which can help in creating new and unique experiences for attendees. This can lead to higher sales overall.
  3. Broaden your reach by tapping into your customer base. Be sure to request events that will be successful and well-attended by your community, and also consider branching out. Request authors from different but exciting genres to grow your audience.

Organizational Structure for Small Stores

  1. When deciding between projects, think about return on investment in addition to time and bandwidth. You might decide to take on smaller tasks you can churn out quickly while working on a larger, longer project, or instead to focus on one thing at a time.
  2. Also, use your store’s mission to determine which projects to take on. Focus your efforts on the unique services you can provide your community.
  3. Having a structure can help you be more creative. Create schedules for day-to-day operations and other tasks, such as social media. For social media, having posts planned ahead of time makes it easier to be consistent, and also allows you to focus on other projects that need your attention.

Planning In-Store Operations for the Holidays

  1. Are you a new store owner wondering what to expect during the holidays? In addition to a flood of online orders, if you’re open to in-store browsing, plan for long lines of customers with specific needs and requests for gift wrapping.
  2. If feasible, consider hiring extra team members for the holidays to help support front-end staff and/or to provide coverage if employees are out sick. Some stores have had success keeping a list of former employees who are willing to take on hours in an “on call” capacity.
  3. Be sure to explain supply chain issues to customers. Make sure they know to shop as early as possible by mentioning it in email newsletters, social media, and in-store as well.

Taking Off With TikTok

  1. When starting on TikTok, consider making engagement your first priority. This will increase visibility and build a community around your store. Once you have a level of engagement you’re happy with, then you can begin prioritizing sales.
  2. Participate in different tags and challenges on TikTok, such as book recommendations. These can help you get staff on-screen, which can make customers excited to come into your store to shop.
  3. To gauge what books you should be talking about, spend time on the app to see what’s popular. Engage with videos to inform the algorithm about content you like so you can stay in the know about trends.

Industry & the Innovation of Nontraditional Stores

  1. Get books in as many different locations as you can by partnering with local institutions, such as theaters and nonprofits. This helps you expand your reach to communities that might not be natural fits for bookstores.
  2. Shipping and receiving can be a challenge for nontraditional stores that don’t have a business address. Consider setting up a premium P.O. box, which allows you to receive UPS and FedEx shipments at the post office. Partnering with local coworking spaces can also be an option.
  3. Use catalogs, such as regional holiday catalogs and the ABC Best Books for Young readers catalog, to promote books to schools and organizations in your community.