Productive Exchange of Ideas at ABA/MSIBA Forum

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On Wednesday, February 2, approximately 25 people attended a daylong American Booksellers Association Booksellers Forum and Education Program, held in conjunction with the Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association (MSIBA), at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. According to those in attendance who spoke with BTW, both the morning's educational session and the afternoon forum provided much food for thought.

"I thought it went pretty well," said Steve Bercu, the owner of BookPeople and an ABA Bookseller Advisory Council member. "People seemed to be extremely appreciative of the ABA information they're getting.... I thought it was productive and enjoyable for everyone who attended. The forum was a lively exchange of ideas and questions and answers."

In attendance from ABA were CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, ABA COO Oren Teicher, Director Len Vlahos, and Associate Director of Programming and Constituent Groups Liaison Kristen Gilligan.

The day kicked off with "Cost of Goods Sold, 101," presented by Domnitz. This seminar for owners, managers, and booksellers expanded on the Cost of Goods Sold component of the well-received "The 2% Solution" presentation at last fall's regional trade shows. The new program examined what Cost of Goods Sold is, how it fits into and affects a bookstore's operating results, and finally, the best, easiest, and most accurate way to calculate it.

Alice Meloy of the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas, told BTW that Domnitz's seminar was "very informative.... Showing how you determine cost of goods sold for booksellers was helpful for us. I learned a lot."

Susan Post at BookWoman in Austin said that, following Wednesday's forum, she came to work and began "using what I learned. [Domnitz's presentation] solved some of the knottier questions."

Following lunch, ABA hosted the Booksellers Forum, where attendees received an update on ABA programs and initiatives. The hot topic of the discussion was trade practices. Of particular concern was publishers selling direct to consumers. Overall, the forum covered a wide range of subjects, including the sales tax initiative, Book Sense Picks list, Book Sense Gift Cards, and Co-op.

"We discussed the impact of the [Book Sense Gift Card] program," said Post. "I've been reading all the articles [in BTW], trying to wrap my mind around it.... I think we're going to do that."

Meloy commented that the group was small enough to allow for a good exchange of ideas and opinions. The size of the group also meant "specific questions were answered. Overall it was very informative and open. There was a lot of information shared with us.... I'm really glad we went." --David Grogan