You Have to Be in It, To Win With It

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

As the popularity of Book Sense gift cards continues to grow, ABA, taking a cue from New York State's lottery slogan, "You have to be in it, to win it," would like to remind booksellers that they have to be in the Book Sense Gift Card Program to win sales with it.

"One of the successes of the gift card program is that we're seeing an increasing number of consumers with gift cards purchased in one store redeeming them in another store," said ABA Marketing Director Jill Perlstein. "But we want to remind booksellers that, in order to accept Book Sense gift cards, they must also sell them. We know of several instances where customers have sought to redeem Book Sense gift cards in stores that have not signed on to participate in the program and were thus ineligible to accept the cards.

Book Sense Gift Cards

"These experiences clearly highlight two points: the popularity of gift cards -- the purchasers of these cards had the option of buying a Book Sense gift certificate or going to a chain, but chose the Book Sense gift card instead -- and the need for more stores with Book Sense to join the program so that we continue to live up to customers' expectations of Book Sense as a nationwide program -- something we've worked for the last five years to establish."

Perlstein pointed out that basic fairness dictates that stores must be full participants in the Book Sense Gift Card Program to be eligible to accept gift cards as a form of payment. "Bookstores selling gift cards pay a fee to participate in the program, and the reward for this is increased sales. It is unfair for a store that does not take on the expenses of the program to benefit from it," Perlstein said. "In addition, these stores just don't have the ability to process the cards correctly. One of the benefits to customers is that they do not have to use the total amount of the gift card. They can carry the remaining balance on the card for as long as they like. Non-participating stores do not have the ability to deduct the sale amount from the card and to leave a remaining balance. This is clearly a disservice to the customer and to stores participating in the program."

For stores choosing not to participate in the gift card program, ABA suggests that customers coming in with gift cards be directed to a participating store's Web site or that the store help the customer locate a participating store by checking the list of "Book Sense Gift Card Participating Stores" on or by calling 1-888-BookSense. Since Book Sense gift cards have no expiration dates, no inactivity fees, and no hidden charges, customers can use the cards at their leisure.

"I hope that non-participating stores faced with customers who want to redeem gift cards will see this as a sign that customers do prefer gift cards, and they will consider joining the program. When the program first rolled out last fall there was confusion as to the pricing structure and the technology requirements. Booksellers are finding the program to be competitively priced, easy to use, and most do not need to purchase equipment. In addition, our program allows each bookseller the ability to have a co-branded gift card that the customer can use in the selling store, online, or in another store with Book Sense -- and all the while the customer is carrying around a reminder of where the card was purchased. We don't know of any other program available to independent businesses that is as flexible and as cost effective as ours. I hope that stores that are considering signing-up in time for Mother's Day will send in the order form within the next few weeks to allow time for card production and staff training."

For more information about the gift card program, click here. To set an appointment for a gift card demonstration, send an e-mail to Perlstein at [email protected].