An Update on ABA's Thursday Afternoon BEA Programming

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On Thursday, June 3, at BookExpo America (BEA), ABA will once again be holding its popular All-Day Education Program. Here's an update on afternoon programming, which offers booksellers a choice of five different sessions that will be held from 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. and then again from 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. In addition, there will be a College Store Idea Exchange and Roundtable, held at 1:45 p.m. only, and a Large Store Roundtable, which spans Thursday morning and afternoon.

There is no additional fee for BEA educational programming, including ABA's Thursday programming, which is open to all ABA member bookstores, but booksellers must register through BEA. Tomorrow (Friday, May 21) is the last day that BEA registration for ABA members is $65; after May 21 the registration fee is $100.

Identify Competition & Self-Evaluation: A Method to Conduct the Analysis
Room 402B 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Everybody is selling books, or so it seems. This session, presented by ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, will help booksellers identify competitors in their trade area and will suggest a method for measurement when comparing yourself to the competition. Questions to be explored include: Why does any consumer buy their books at any place and at any time? What are the factors that enter into this basic decision that is at the core of all consumer conduct? How does your store measure up?

Effective Inventory Management
Room 404D 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Consultant and professional speaker Bob Steele, founder of Trinity & Associates, will moderate this session, which will explore how to effectively measure and monitor a store's inventory. "Good inventory management is a must in operating a successful bookstore," Steele said. "With the average ABA independent bookseller having 80 percent of their assets currently in inventory, the checkbook, and receivables, it's seldom too late to get started."

Steele noted that his session will look at some vital inventory control "best practices," which include using a systematic approach to measure and monitor key inventory metrics. "The emphasis will be on achieving a balance between inventory turn and gross margin, using Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment as one of the key measurables."

At the session, booksellers will be challenged to look at how they're currently doing business, compare it to some proven industry best practices, and determine which practices they may need to adopt in order to maximize success and improve the bottom line.

Forming Independent Business Alliances in Your Community
Room 402A 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Moderated by ABA COO Oren Teicher, this session, discussing ways to promote the ever-growing importance of locally owned independent businesses to the economic stability of communities, will feature:

  • Jeff Milchen, co-founder and outreach director for the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). He was a co-founder of the first Independent Business Alliance (BIBA) in Boulder, Colorado, and was director for the first three years. Milchen is also an opinion writer whose commentaries have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Christian Science Monitor;
  • Judy Wicks, co-founder and co-chair of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and owner of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia;
  • Dan Houston and Matt Cunningham, partners in Civic Economics, which wrote the report "Economic Impact of Locally Owned Businesses," conducted in Austin for Liveable City, including Bookpeople and Waterloo Records. Civic Economics provides businesses, communities, and civic organizations with creative tools to achieve sustainable prosperity. Before establishing Civic Economics, Cunningham served a national technology-led economic development firm as Research Manager, performing economic impact studies for real estate projects and complete economic, demographic, and land use analyses for economic development projects; and Houston served as Senior Project Manager for a national firm focused on technology-led economic development;
  • Booksellers Chuck Robinson of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, and Betsy Burton of The King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah -- both of whom have been in the forefront in creating local business alliances in their respective communities.

Succession Planning: Employee Buyouts
Room 404A 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Bookstore owners planning to sell their business or bookstore employees hoping to buy a store should plan to attend this session moderated by Director Len Vlahos and featuring Barbara Wilson of Butterfly Books in De Pere, Wisconsin; Dinah Paul of A Likely Story Children's Bookstore in Alexandria, Virginia; and Kevin Ryan of Green Apple Books in San Francisco.

Wilson, Paul, and Ryan were all employees of the stores that they eventually purchased. Each will describe the history of their connection to the bookstores, from the time they began working there, through the decision to purchase, through the actual purchase, and where things stand today. After their presentations, there will be a question and answer session.

Small Store Issues
Room 404B/C 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

ABA small store members have set the agenda for this seminar, which will cover issues of inventory management, stocking and ordering, time management, choosing a POS system, and more. Booksellers are encouraged to bring their questions and to send topic suggestions to Associate Book Sense Marketing Director Meg Smith at

The first session will be moderated by ABA Board Member Russ Lawrence of Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton, Montana, and incoming ABA Board member Linda Ramsdell of The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick Center, Vermont, will host the second gathering.

Handouts at the session will include an Author Event Partnership Program sheet and rate card, and Author Consignment Agreement, courtesy of Eric Wilska of The Bookloft in Great Barrington, Massaschusetts; a summary of advantages for the small store from selected POS vendors; and "The Magic of Inventory Returns and Inventory Practices," courtesy of outgoing ABA Board member John Bennett of Bennett Books in Wyckoff, New Jersey; and a workbook on mastering time management and getting things done.

College Store Idea Exchange & Roundtable
Room TBA 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. only

Presented in conjunction with the National Association of College Stores (NACS), this session, moderated by Cindy Thompson of NACS, will focus on proven strategies that can help make a college store an even more valuable community resource, on and off the campus. The event will feature two presentations, one titled "Find Your Niche, Increase Your Sales," which will explore how to develop a niche, take advantage of co-op advertising, and boost sales. The second presentation, "Success with Remainders," will address using remainders to increase revenue, turns, margins, and profitability. After the presentations, the session will be opened up to suggestions and questions from the group. Booksellers are invited to stay afterwards to continue networking with college store colleagues.

Suggestions regarding this session should be sent to Thompson at

About the roundtable Thompson said, "I hope that any bookseller serving a campus community will join us! This is a great chance to learn from each other, to share challenges and successes."

Large Store Roundtable
S105B/C 10:30 a.m. - noon; reconvening at 1:45 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

ABA Board member Gayle Shanks from Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore and Carla Cohen from Politics & Prose Books & Coffee in Washington, D.C., will facilitate the Large Store Roundtable. This session will span the morning and afternoon and, in between, lunch will be provided free with a chance to talk to other booksellers. The morning session will investigate "How to Improve the Bottom Line," which will be broken down into subtopics including payroll, profit-sharing, shipping, occupancy costs, and inventory systems like Above the Treeline. The afternoon session, which will tackle Marketing and Events, examines different methods of marketing including creating e-mail and printed newsletter and catalogs, finding new constituencies, developing book clubs, and holding events outside the store. Shanks and Cohen encourage booksellers to bring printed materials (50 copies of each) including newsletters, both printed and e-mailed versions, holiday catalogs, bookmarks, anniversary booklets, etc.

Shanks told BTW, "I always look forward to the large store roundtable at BEA. I find that it allows me to share ideas, ask questions, and spend time with my colleagues in an intense but interactive way. It is usually one of the 'best' parts of my convention experience each year and I go home ready to try new things in my store. I hope we have a large turnout this year and that people come with handouts and ideas that worked for them that they're willing to share with each other."

When registering for BEA, ABA member booksellers must check off "ABA Bookstore Member" and provide their ABA ID number under "Registration Options" on the BEA registration form.

For more information about ABA programming at BEA, click here.