Fifth Annual Winter Institute Registration Opens

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Registration opens today for the American Booksellers Association's Fifth Annual Winter Institute (Wi5), to be held from Wednesday, February 3, through Friday, February 5, 2010, at the Doubletree San Jose in San Jose, California. The education event, sponsored by Ingram Book Company/Ingram Publisher Services, is open exclusively to ABA bookstore and provisional members.

"In its first four years, the Winter Institute has cemented its place as one of the most important events on independent booksellers' annual calendar," said ABA COO Len Vlahos. "Continuing in that tradition, we have created an outstanding program for Wi5 that we hope and believe will educate and inform booksellers at all levels of experience."

The Wi5 schedule offers an array of 28 education sessions on topics such as children's bookselling, graphic novels, health care reform, gift cards, the IndieBound movement, and more. And Wednesday, February 3, will be a special Technology Day, with tracks for booksellers new to the digital phenomenon as well as for those more experienced.

New this year, there is a $50 nonrefundable meal fee for the three-day event that will help offset some of the food and beverage costs at Wi5. ABA members can also register, for the first time, for a single-day pass to the Winter Institute. The meal fee for a single-day pass is $25, and booksellers will need to identify the day they are planning to attend when registering.

Charging the meal fee helps keep the education program free to all members, explained Vlahos. But, since at this time it is not logistically possible for ABA to track who will be attending the meal functions, the meal fee is mandatory and due upon registration.

Registration for the Winter Institute is capped at 500, and spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Since past Winter Institutes have been sellouts, ABA is encouraging members to register for the education program as soon as possible. The Wi5 event registration deadline is December 1. Register now.

ABA has reserved a block of rooms at Wi5's host hotel, the Doubletree San Jose, for Tuesday, February 2, through Saturday, February 6, 2010. The special room rate of $115/night for ABA bookseller and provisional members and participating publisher sponsors only will be available until Friday, January 8, 2010, or until the group block is sold out, whichever comes first. This year's hotel cancellation policy is different from previous years: To avoid being charged one night's rate plus tax, cancellations must be made prior to Friday, January 8. Any cancellations after that date will be subject to a charge of one night's rate plus tax. Registration is via the Doubletree's dedicated Wi5 registration page. Any questions regarding Wi5 hotel reservations should be addressed directly to the hotel at (408) 453-4000. Overnight self-parking is available at $5.00 per night. Reserve a room now.

ABA Publisher Partners are sponsoring more than two-dozen Wi5 bookseller scholarships. Scholarship winners will be selected from among all ABA bookseller members, with booksellers dropping off a business card at the ABA booth at the fall regional trade shows earning an extra entry in the scholarship drawings. Scholarships will cover the cost of reasonable airfare, up to a four-night hotel stay at the Doubletree San Jose, and the Wi5 meal fee. Scholarship winners will be drawn at the end of October, after the last regional trade show.

Below is a preview of Wi5's education sessions; a grid of the complete education schedule is available on BookWeb's Wi5 Event pages. Watch for updates on the complete Wi5 program in upcoming editions of BTW. Questions may be addressed to

Wi5 Technology Day: Wednesday, February 3

Plenary: The Ingram Digital Report
From print-on-demand to the delivery of e-content, the Ingram Content Group has long been an innovator in the digital arena. A senior company representative will describe how Ingram sees the world of digital content evolving over the next few years.

A Report From the Field: Bookseller Success Stories About Selling Digital Content
This session is for you if you are selling digital content regularly and want to hear some hints and tips from other booksellers who have found this medium a successful sales vehicle. A panel of experts will discuss their successes and failures in selling e-books to consumers.

Going Mobile: How Books Are Sold, Bought & Consumed With Mobile Technology
Current mobile technology means your customers have the ability to be connected to everything all the time. What does this mean for book sales? How does your participation in mobile technology change your approach to sales, marketing, and, even, events? How are your customers using their iPhones and BlackBerrys to access book content? Learn how the mobile revolution is affecting your store.

The Language of Technology: Learning the Concepts
What is HTML / XML / CSS / JavaScript? Do you know the difference between server-side technology and client-side technology? What does open source really mean? What the heck is a "Drupal" anyway? Are your eyes glazing over yet? Come to this session, and you will soon be able to talk tech with the best of them.

The State of General Trade Publishing: Three Noted Publishers Discuss How Digitization is Impacting Their Business & the Industry
All attendees welcome. How is the explosion of digital content impacting the general trade publishing industry? How are publishers reacting to the format and device wars? Do publishers plan to sell digital content directly? Do they see digital content as a complementary or competitive product to printed books? How are they grappling with price? A panel of three noted publishers will debate the challenges and opportunities presented by digitization.


Thursday, February 4

ABACUS: ABA's Financial Benchmark Study
All attendees welcome. The ABACUS study helps independent booksellers compete by giving them competitive line-by-line analyses of the primary factors affecting bookstore profitability. This session will summarize the results from ABACUS 2009 and will explore what those results mean for your business. The presentation will include an analysis of factors that drive sales and profits, as well as guidance on using the ABACUS data to improve your store's financial performance. Presented in easy-to-understand terms, this session is intended for all booksellers, regardless of their knowledge of finances.

ABA's IndieCommerce: Tips & Tools for Advanced Open Source Website Design
In this session, a panel of ABA staffers and IndieCommerce booksellers will discuss content creation; creating, moving, and managing blocks; custom themes; accessing reports; and more. Bring your own tips and tricks for a room-wide discussion as well. Bring your laptop, too!

An Expert Speaks: Non-Book & Gift Items With NACSCORP
An executive from NACSCORP, the wholesale arm of the National Association of College Stores, will present tips on how to choose non-book and gift items for your store and will reveal which items have been hot on college campuses. If you have limited experience buying or managing non-book items, this session will make clear why it's important to your store.

Customer Surveys: Why & How
Have you ever wondered what your customers think about your store or how they view you compared to your competition? In this session, find out how to create and execute customer surveys that will help you learn more about your customers and develop more effective strategies to meet their needs. This session will outline the "nuts-and-bolts" of how to do customer surveys -- including how to frame questions, administer the survey in your store and online, and analyze the results.

Digital Trends: A Discussion About E-Content Issues
A panel of e-content thought-leaders will discuss trends in digital content, including whether or not e-books compete with or complement p-books; choosing the right reading device; the future of DRM; the future of e-book pricing; and the role of independent booksellers in the sale of e-books.

Edelweiss for Fun & Profit
If you have registered for Edelweiss and/or are a current user of the product, this session is for you. This is not a demo, but is a session on Edelweiss best practices so you can get the most out of the product.

Graphic Novels: An Amazing Marketing Event & Opportunity for Independent Retail
From the public library to the classroom and the Internet, sales of graphic novels continue to see dramatic increases. Why is this happening and how can you benefit? In this session, representatives from Diamond Book Distributors will discuss the market and, how to select, buy, shelve, and promote graphic novels.

Handselling 201: Using the Digital Age to Your Advantage
Discover how to take handselling to the next level through new and inventive digital means. Hear how bookstores are using video and social media to recommend books to customers and how those efforts can result in sales. If you have attended ABA's popular handselling session in the past, you will want to update your expertise with this course.

Healthcare Reform & Its Impact on Independent Booksellers
All attendees welcome. Health care reform is one of the most important issues of our generation, and it directly impacts small businesses. As Congress debates the merits of employer mandates vs. a single payer option, it's important that indie booksellers have a voice. Come hear discussion of the key issues in the health care debate, and learn what you can do to make a difference.

IndieBound Design Workshop
All attendees welcome. How do you tell your customers why shopping at locally owned, independent businesses is different? Specifically, your locally owned, independent business? IndieBound is tailor-made to communicate that message. Bring your questions, your problems -- and your laptop. We'll brainstorm projects (such as a template for an Indie Next List display) and events designed to promote your independence in the store, in the community, and online, working with hands-on graphic design programs and finished examples.

"It's a Wrap" Video Lab
Small businesses are increasingly relying on video to communicate with their customers, and indie bookstores are no different. In this space-limited, hands-on lab, you'll learn how to shoot a short video, get that video from the camera to your computer, and get the clip from your computer to your blog, website, or Facebook page. This session is open to 20 booksellers only; all registrants must bring their own laptop. Space is limited. To register, e-mail ABA's IndieBound outreach liaison, Paige Poe ( Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. ABA staff will communicate with registrants prior to the event to discuss session requirements.

Small & Mid-Size Store Roundtable
All attendees welcome. A veteran bookseller will moderate this roundtable discussion for owners and managers of small to mid-size stores. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in attending should e-mail ABA's marketing coordinator, Sarah Rettger (, with "Small-Store Roundtable" in the subject line.

Social Media & The Independent Bookseller: An Introduction
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and other social networking sites have fundamentally changed the way people approach both their private lives and their business transactions. Social media networks are not the wave of the future -- they are the wave of the now. In today's connected world you are no longer building relationships with "customers" but with "friends." You will leave this session with a greater understanding of where this paradigm shift is taking small business.

The New Reality: Alternative Business Models for Independent Bookstores
A business model that sells books alone is growing more challenging each year, but there are viable alternatives. In this session, you will hear from a panel of innovative booksellers who are growing their businesses in directions beyond the book. From print-on-demand to literary summer camps, indie booksellers are using their ingenuity and their roots in the community to find new and interesting ways to sustain their book sales.

Children's Bookselling
The Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) will present a session specific to children's booksellers. Details to come!


Friday, February 5

ABA's Gift Card Users Group: Preparing for the Transition
All attendees welcome. The ABA Gift Card Program Users Group, led by ABA's Jill Perlstein, will review the process for winding down the national program to a more cost-effective in-store program. Learn about the importance of reconciling and other procedures for a smooth transition. Space is limited. Contact Perlstein at to reserve your space.

ABA's New IndieCommerce: A Demo
IndieCommerce (formerly has been transformed by its migration to the open-source content management system Drupal. This new and improved e-commerce product provides booksellers with more intuitive and robust administrative tools and greater creative control, and it allows ABA staff to roll out new features more quickly. Come see a demo and ask questions of ABA's IndieCommerce staff.

Beating Up on Your Landlord (or, Renegotiating Your Lease)
This presentation uses real-world examples to show how savvy owners and managers can strategize to approach their landlord about an existing lease. ABACUS benchmarks can be the starting point for these potentially fraught negotiations. Issues covered will include paying per square foot vs. paying a percentage of sales, the necessity of beginning a lease renegotiation well in advance of its expiration, and more.

Creating and Maintaining a Profitable Magazine Section
With the plethora of titles and types, magazines can be a unique attraction in the store. A representative from Ingram Periodicals will discuss the benefits of selling magazines in independent bookstores. Topics covered will include choosing titles, marketing and merchandising a section, rack display allowances, and more.

Creating Sales: How & Why You Need to Promote Your E-Commerce Solution
Have an e-commerce solution but still not seeing the web sales that you want? You need to promote your e-commerce solution and treat it as an integral part of the store! Owners, managers, and marketers, come learn how and why to promote your website to your customers from a panel of successful online indie bookstore retailers.

Indie Retail: A Report From the Front
Retail can feel like a battlefield. What are other independent businesses doing to survive and thrive in today's very competitive retail environment? How are they promoting themselves to their customers? How are they banding together with other indie businesses? Come hear a panel of non-bookstore indie retailers discuss these topics and more.

Large-Store Roundtable
All attendees welcome. Aimed at owners and managers of large stores. A veteran bookseller will moderate this roundtable discussion for owners and managers of large stores. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in attending should e-mail ABA's marketing coordinator, Sarah Rettger ( with "Large-Store Roundtable" in the subject line.

The Fundamentals of Security & Loss Control
Linda James, president of Loss Prevention Resources, Inc., has over 38 years of law enforcement and loss prevention experience. Her career includes positions as deputy sheriff and as director of loss prevention and risk management for major corporations, including Nordstrom. James teaches loss prevention classes at seminars for Washington State Crime Prevention. Her professional experience will help you to identify and control loss in order to keep your store profitable.

ABC Presents the Gen Z Reader: Understanding the New Reader of the Post-Electronic Age
Is reading in decline, or has the definition of a 'reader' simply changed? This panel will take a look at how the "new reader" of the post-electronic age defines reading and how children's booksellers can meet the needs of this reader -- from digital and online content to audio and traditional formats.

The Business of Accepting Credit and Debit Cards
Come learn how to navigate the myriad rules associated with accepting credit and debit cards. From managing procedures to ensure you are getting the best rate to understanding PCI compliance, learning more about this topic can save you money.