Winter Institute Registration Opens

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Registration for the American Booksellers Association's Fourth Annual Winter Institute (Wi4), to be held from Thursday, January 29, through Sunday, February 1, 2009, at Utah's Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown, is now open. The highly anticipated, free education event exclusively for ABA bookstore and provisional members is sponsored by Ingram Book Company/Ingram Publisher Services.

"The Wi4 program features lots of new material for booksellers at all levels of experience," said ABA Chief Program Officer Len Vlahos. "To help members choose from among the institute's 26 different educational offerings, we've indicated the intended level of experience for each topic. For example, we think the session on using multimedia to market your store is great for just about every attendee.

"The Winter Institute will also feature a number of special events, including a reprise of the very popular Author Reception, and completely retooled rep picks sessions."

Among the topics booksellers will explore at 19 new Winter Institute education sessions are creative graphic novel marketing and events, taking co-op to the next level, remainder buying, book clubs, book fairs, IndieBound, and much, much more. The schedule also provides booksellers the option of going on a merchandising tour of The King's English on Friday or Sam Weller's Bookstore on Saturday. (Space on the tours is limited, so interested booksellers need to sign up by sending an e-mail to; see details in the descriptions below.) There are also IndieBound and ABA E-Commerce users group meetings, a roundtable discussion for large stores, and another for small and mid-size stores.

The two full days of education on Friday and Saturday kick off with a Welcome Reception at Sam Weller's on Thursday evening and conclude with Sunday Morning Bookseller Cafés.

A limited number of booksellers can sign up for an all-day pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives, to be held on Thursday, January 29, and featuring Betsy Burton of the King's English; Stacy Mitchell, author of Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for American's Independent Businesses (Beacon) and senior researcher for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance; Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker; other leaders in the independent business alliance movement; and community-focused author Terry Tempest Williams. (There's a special check box on the Wi4 registration form for booksellers who wish to participate in the Shop Local Conference.) In addition, the American Independent Business Alliance will be holding its second national Leadership Gathering of networks from all across the country on Wednesday, January 28, at the Marriott. This event, featuring presentations and discussions, will provide further in-depth opportunities to learn more about IBA's, shop local campaigns, and more. Watch BTW for details or contact AMIBA Director Jennifer Rockne at

ABA has negotiated a special room rate of $122 per night at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown for Wednesday, January 28, through Sunday, February 1, exclusively for ABA bookstore and provisional members. The special rate is available until Monday, January 5, or until the group block is sold out, whichever comes first. All hotel reservations must be made through the hotel (a link to the hotel's special Wi4 reservations web page is here and on

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 asking members to limit the number of registrants to 10 per store. To allow as many members as possible to participate in Wi4, booksellers are asked to cancel unneeded reservations as soon as possible. The Wi4 registration deadline is November 21.

To help ABA plan meal events, booksellers who prefer vegetarian meals are asked to indicate their preference on the registration form.

For more information about the Winter Institute, and to register, visit Questions may be addressed to

The Fourth Annual Winter Institute's Education Sessions

Here are descriptions of all of the sessions planned for the Winter Institute. (You can also download this information in PDF format.) The complete Wi4 schedule is now up on

The 8½ Percent Solution: Mobilizing Your Store & Your Customers in the Fight for Sales Tax Equity
Aimed at Owners and Managers.
Big Box online retailers have successfully skirted existing sales tax laws in virtually every state where sales tax is collected. Come hear a panel of experts discuss how you can lobby your state government to equitably collect sales tax and make advocates of your customers.
ABA E-Commerce Demonstration
Aimed at Owners, Managers, Webmasters, and Frontline Booksellers from stores not currently using the product.
The ABA E-Commerce Solution (the program formerly known as has been transformed. Specifically, the product has migrated to an open-source content management system called Drupal. This new and improved program provides booksellers with more intuitive and robust administrative tools, allows for much greater control over the look and feel of their websites, and allows staff to roll out new features more quickly. Come see a demo of this new product and have questions answered by ABA's E-Commerce staff.
ABA E-Commerce Solution Users Group
Aimed at Owners, Managers, Webmasters, and Frontline Booksellers who currently use the ABA E-Commerce Solution.
ABA's E-Commerce program (formerly known as has undergone a major overhaul. The site has migrated to the open-source platform, Drupal, which now provides users with new and improved administrative tools, better performance and reliability, and a shorter path to new features and functionality. Participants in the users group have an opportunity to meet with, and provide feedback to, ABA's E-Commerce staff. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Aimed at Owners, Managers, and Prospective Booksellers.
The ABACUS Study continues to help independent booksellers compete by giving them comparative, line-by-line analysis of the primary factors affecting bookstore profitability. This session will summarize the results from the most recent ABACUS Study 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 how to read and use ABACUS reports to improve your store's financial performance.
Book Club Brainstorming
Aimed at Events Coordinators, Book Club Coordinators, and Frontline Booksellers who already have book clubs in place at their stores.
Book clubs are a perfect tool for increasing your sales as well as for reaching out to your community. This session will highlight a few very successful book club programs. Attendees will examine which aspects of these programs make them such a huge success and will learn ways to implement these strategies in their own stores. Booksellers will join together in guided brainstorming exercises to discover interesting ways of setting up, maintaining, and marketing book clubs to customers.
Book Fairs: How & Why
Aimed at All Booksellers with limited or no experience in organizing and running a book fair.
Learn how to sell a book fair to the appropriate people in your school district, how to organize and run it, and how to deal with the back end. Hear suggestions about how much staff time you should budget and how to capitalize on a book fair by turning a purchase into an actual visit to your store. A simple book fair will not only sell books--it can also connect you with those people in the school system who share your passion to get books into the hands of children.
Creative Graphic Novel Events and Marketing
Aimed at Events Coordinators, Frontline Booksellers, and others involved in marketing a store's Graphic Novels Section.
You have established a Graphic Novels/Comic Section in your store. Maybe you even have someone on staff who lives and breathes this section. But sales still aren't what you'd hoped they'd be. How can you introduce, or reintroduce, this section to both your comics customers and your non-comics customers--and, also bring in new comics customers? Besides a traditional author signing or drawing event, what can you do to present graphic novels in a creative and fun authorless event? Come hear a panel of experts discuss successful graphic novel marketing.
Frontline Bookselling: Year One
Aimed at Frontline Booksellers and Prospective Booksellers.
This session is for frontline booksellers and those who have recently joined our bookselling ranks. Welcome! What does it take to be a successful bookseller? Where can you find more information about the book industry? What happens at regional shows and other industry events? What survival strategies are available as you face your first major holiday sales season? Come hear a panel of new booksellers share their first-year experiences, answer questions, and provide tips and hints.
The Immutable Laws of Customer Service
Aimed at Frontline Booksellers and Prospective Booksellers.
Customer service should be a bookstore's number-one focus, but sometimes the basics are forgotten. This session will outline specific customer service dos and don'ts that every bookseller should know and practice at her bookstore. This session will benefit all booksellers, as it will cover rules of customer service that everyone should know and consistently practice. It will be especially beneficial to Prospective and Frontline Booksellers.
Increasing Margin
Aimed at Owners, Managers, and Buyers with basic knowledge of buying and inventory management.
The cost of goods (how much you pay for the merchandise you sell) is a key driver of profitability. Lowering that cost, which will increase your margin, will put you on the path to financial success. This session will include strategies for optimizing your inventory, including: adding high-margin items and more effectively managing trade sales; taking advantage of seasonal and stock offers; finding the right blend of buying direct versus buying just-in-time; and much more. Attendees should at least have knowledge of buying at a "100" level. This will be a 2½-hour workshop with a 30-minute break, and plenty of time for questions and audience participation.
Indie Retail Business Alliance Case Study
Aimed at Owners, Managers, and Prospective Booksellers who are interested in creating IBAs in their communities.
This is a new twist on the previously successful panel discussion on how to create a local business alliance in a community. Come hear the results of a case study involving a bookstore that did not have an existing IBA six months ago but has since created one. Ask questions and find out what it takes to go from being an independent alone to being an independent with a business alliance behind you.
IndieBound Case Study: Presentation & Discussion
Aimed at Owners, Managers, Frontline Booksellers, and Prospective Booksellers who want to learn more about implementing IndieBound in their stores and communities.
This session will look at a diverse group of stores from different parts of the country that have applied the principles of IndieBound to their stores over the past six months. There will be concrete examples documenting their efforts and showing the audience just how they did it. Immediately following this session there will be a 30-minute break; then, booksellers will reconvene for a guided "put it into practice" discussion, where they will take what they have learned from the case studies and think up ways to implement similar programs in their own communities.  
IndieBound Users Group: Show & Tell
Aimed at Booksellers currently using the IndieBound materials and ideas in their bookstores and communities.
What have you done with IndieBound DIY ? How have you used your palm cards to start conversations with customers? Come share your use of the IndieBound materials with fellow booksellers and learn what's coming next for the IndieBound Program. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis and attendees are encouraged to bring visuals to share.
Introduction to Buying
Aimed at Prospective Booksellers, Frontline Booksellers, and others with little to no previous knowledge of buying.
Not sure what "open-to-buy" means? Don't know what a "stock offer" is? Does the term "seasonal buying" make you think of winter sweaters and summer shorts? If so, this session is for you. Attendees will learn the absolute basics of buying, including: terminology, publisher buying, wholesaler buying, discount schedules--and more-- from a seasoned buyer.
Large-Store Roundtable
Aimed at Owners and Managers of large stores.
This roundtable discussion for owners and managers of large stores will be moderated by a veteran bookseller. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in attending should send an email to ABAs Chief Program Officer Len Vlahos ( with "Large-Store Roundtable" in the subject line.
Making Free Speech Pay
Aimed at Owners and Managers.
American booksellers have opposed censorship since the 1920s, but they do not always recognize that their defense of free speech is a strong selling point with their customers. In this program, Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), will moderate a discussion among several booksellers who have taken a leading role in the fight for free speech. They will discuss how speaking out on First Amendment issues, participating in Banned Books Week, and organizing programs on current free speech issues has attracted people to their stores, built customer loyalty, and positioned them to effectively confront censorship issues that may arise in their communities.
Aimed at Owners, Managers, and Buyers.
The ABA/Applewood Print-on-Demand program will be six months old in January. Sit in to learn how booksellers have successfully used the program to create and sell highmargin, community-focused merchandise, and learn where the pitfalls and obstacles have been--and how to avoid them!
Reimagining Your Store: Presentation & Discussion
Aimed at Owners, Managers, and Buyers.
Do you shelve Tony LaRussa's memoir in Biography or Sports? Do you shelve Persepolis in Graphic Novels, Memoirs, or Mideast History? How do you merchandize used books and non-book items? How do these decisions affect your buying? As the culture changes, so, too, does the way consumers think about, search for, and buy books. Join a dialogue with a panel of experts on the latest trends in store layout, category management, and buying, as well as the impact the Internet is having on how consumers think about, search for, and organize information.
Remainder Buying
Aimed at Novice Remainder Buyers, Regular Buyers interested in the remainder market, and Prospective Booksellers.
Even experienced book buyers shy away from the remainder market. This session will help demystify remainder buying and demonstrate the skills needed to bring high-margin merchandise into your store.
Small & Mid-Size Store Roundtable
Aimed at Owners and Managers of small to mid-size stores.
This roundtable discussion for owners and managers of small to mid-size stores will be moderated by a veteran bookseller. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in attending should send an email to ABAs Chief Program Officer Len Vlahos ( with "Small Round Table" in the subject line.
Store Merchandising Tours
Aimed at Owners, Managers, and Prospective Booksellers.
On both Friday and Saturday afternoons, booksellers will break free from the Salt Lake City Marriott to visit bookstores. On Friday, a merchandising professional will lead attendees on a tour of Sam Weller's Bookstore and on Saturday The King's English. Booksellers will be provided with a list of merchandising best practices and will get ideas for their own stores and benefit from the knowledge of this expert. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested booksellers should email with "Store Tour" in the subject line to sign up. Friday's tour of Sam Weller's Bookstore will have an emphasis on the merchandising tactics for a large store. Saturday's tour of The King's English will have an emphasis on merchandising tactics for small to mid-sized stores.
Surviving Tough Times
Aimed at Owners and Managers.
Financial markets are strained, the housing bust is getting worse, energy prices are soaring, and your customers are scared. This isn't the first time and it won't be the last that your business has to navigate tough times, and while the road may be bumpy, there are proven strategies to help you emerge stronger. Hear from bookseller experts as they discuss the value of cash reserves, controlling expenses, managing inventory, managing staff, and providing leadership skills. This special survey session will run three hours, with a 20-minute intermission.
Taking Your Co-op to the Next Level
Aimed at Owners, Managers, Buyers, and Events/Marketing Directors.
Co-op is a daunting and difficult task to navigate, even for the seasoned bookseller. In this session, attendees will learn from experts in the field of co-op who will share their organizational habits and tips for making co-op navigable in stores big and small. This session is aimed at booksellers who already have an understanding of co-op at the "100" level and who wish to continue their education to the "200" level.
Using Multimedia to Market Your Store
Aimed at All Booksellers.
What asset helps most to distinguish your store from the competition? It's you! Learn how to tell the story of your store (store history, staff and owner's bios, your place in the community) in a way that will capture the imagination of your customers. The session will instruct booksellers on how to use sight and sound (video, photos, podcasts) to make their stores interesting, exciting, and a place consumers will want to visit over and over again. Hear from a professional documentarian and see concrete examples of booksellers who have already taken the multimedia plunge.
What Booksellers Can Learn from Libraries
Aimed at Buyers, Owners, and Managers. Kristen McLean, Director of the Association of Booksellers for Children, will return to deliver her excellent material on working with your local library to develop your Children's section.

Pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives
Thursday, January 29, 2009
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Salt Lake City, UT

ABA’s Winter Institute attendees are presented with a unique opportunity to arrive in Salt Lake City early for an important day of independent business alliance education. Utah has one of the most active Local First campaigns in the country, and indie bookseller Betsy Burton of The King’s English is a key player in that campaign. During this conference, attendees will learn from some experienced players in the IBA world and will benefit from their experience in creating and maintaining successful programs. The day will begin with words from independent business guru Stacy Mitchell and introductions by Betsy Burton and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. Morning workshops will divide attendees according to whether or not they currently have local first campaigns in their communities. Participants will learn best practices from well-established IBAs or the basics on how to get started. After a lunch event with community-focused author Terry Tempest Williams, a general session will help attendees learn how to work with local governments and other funding sources to gain support. Optional tour of a successful local independent business in Salt Lake City will be held in the afternoon, and the day will conclude with the Wi4 Opening Reception at Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

TO REGISTER: Space is limited! ABA member bookstores and provisional members can register on the main Wi4 registration form on by checking the box for “Pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives”. (If you’ve already registered for Wi4 and would like to come to this conference, please email with "Pre-Institute" in the subject line.)

OPTIONAL: ABA Members attending ABA’s Local First/Shop Local Conference are encouraged to attend the AMIBA Network Meeting that begins on Tuesday evening, January 27 and runs through Wednesday, January 28 in Salt Lake City. For more information on how to sign-up for this event, please contact AMIBA’s Jennifer Rockne at

Sunday Morning Bookseller Cafes
Sunday, February 1, 2009
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown

Booksellers who are still around on Sunday morning are encouraged to attend roundtable discussions over coffee. Tables will be organized by a wide variety of topics, such as: events coordinators, children's stores, technology, frontline booksellers, IndieBound, digital issues, etc. This is a great way to wind up the Institute and to garner ideas from fellow booksellers who share your concerns and problems.