First Kansas City Forum a Hit

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On Saturday, April 16, the American Booksellers Association held its second spring Booksellers Forum and Education Program in conjunction with the Midwest Booksellers Association. The event was held at the Brio Italian Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. ABA's first program in the MBA region this year was held in March in Bloomington, Minnesota.

"We were delighted to have booksellers from all four of the southern-most states in the Midwest Booksellers Association region," said Susan Walker, MBA's executive director, about the program. "I'm combining the Spring Meeting and Forum weekend with eight days of visits to MBA/ABA bookstores in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, so the meeting was a focal point for our region's 'Grand Tour' outreach program. The Spring Meeting/Forum plus the store visits together are an excellent way to get to know in much more depth our booksellers and their priorities and concerns."

ABA's Kansas City program included "The 2% Solution" seminar, a Booksellers Forum, and an ABACUS workshop. Both "The 2% Solution" and the ABACUS workshop were led by ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz.

Vivien Jennings, co-owner of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas, is a fan of "The 2% Solution." She told BTW, "Avin covers some invaluable information about business. I've heard it before, and I need to hear it about every six months. I hear about the things I know I need to do, but need reminding."

Sarah Bagby, co-owner of Watermark Books in Wichita, Kansas, also valued Domnitz's seminar. "He did a good job of providing an overview of what you can do to become or stay profitable," she said. "A lot of what he talked about mirrored discussions we'd had at the store -- things that we talked about, but he inspired us to do them, because he had the information so well laid out. It was truly validating."

Bagby told BTW that she appreciated that MBA and ABA held the forum and education seminar in her area. "It was nice that the associations hosted something in Kansas City. Because of where we are geographically, we tend to get kind of isolated." She also was pleased with MBA's decision to drop the "Upper" from the association's former name.

The afternoon Booksellers Forum was moderated by Domnitz and ABA COO Oren Teicher. Booksellers received an update on ABA programs and initiatives and discussed a number of issues, including Book Sense gift cards,, Constant Contact, and the Book Sense Picks list.

"The forum was again invaluable," said Jennings. "Some of the booksellers had been [in business] a long time, but many were new booksellers, and we were able to exchange information, while also being updated on what resources are available through ABA."

Booksellers discussed various issues related to Jennings said that moderators explained how to use publisher co-op to cover a percentage of the cost of a website. Jennings also mentioned that booksellers were interested in Constant Contact, a company that provides services to manage e-mail marketing campaigns.

Bagby said the most helpful thing for her about the forum was the discussion of gift cards. "I was truly inspired to get gift cards," she said. "The discussion during the forum echoed everything I've read about. And my customers want something they can just put in their wallets... It's just a matter of convenience."

Ellen Scott of The Bookworm in Omaha, Nebraska, said the talk about gift cards caused her to "seriously consider" adopting the program.

"Most everybody seemed pleased," said Jennings. "Booksellers seemed glad that they came. It was very positive, very collegial. There was a sense of dialog and an exchange of information among peers." --Karen Schechner