May 8 – May 15, 2008 Edition

ABA Revamps Indy
Book Sense Program
To Rise to New Era

NEW YORK, NY/5/6/2008–The American Booksellers Association (ABA) will formally unveil its new, as-yet-unnamed imitative in independent bookselling at its Celebration of Bookselling event during BookExpo America, May 29-June 1 in Los Angeles.

The organization has been testing and refining its concepts in a series of nine regional forums called “Bookselling at the Tipping Point.” The new initiative, which has been a year in the making, is designed to help independent booksellers promote the themes that “shopping local” and “shopping independent” provide significant advantages for the consumer.

The ABA wants to capitalize on what it sees as a new window of opportunity for independent booksellers. The organization, battling a serious decline in membership from 4,400 members to about 1,800 today, is optimistic about the survival of independent bookstores. ABA COO Oren Teicher recently told Publishers Weekly that “We are convinced things really are at a tipping point.” He said the time is right for locally-owned, independent bookstores to rebound.

Independent booksellers are buoyed by the trend for consumers to shop green, and shop locally. Teicher said that fifty percent of American consumers are shopping independent businesses–because they are independent.

ABA has been working with identity consult Brains on Fire in Greenville, S.C., to revamp its nine-year-old Book Sense program and provide edgier marketing materials to member stores.

The new initiative is intended to connect with consumers in a better way than the existing Book Sense program, which has fallen short of expectations. The Book Sense name will be abandoned and will be redesigned. New tools and materials will be developed to help booksellers define who they are. After the BEA show, ABA members will receive a “white box” containing materials to help them get started on the new initiative. Meanwhile, the bestseller list and picks will remain in tact along with the gift card program.

Teicher cautioned that the transition would not happen overnight. It will take several months for the ABA to convert Book Sense URLs for its members to

Reactions from booksellers who attended the nine regional forums have been generally favorable to the ABA initiative. “There is a moment in 2008 and 2009 that now works to our advantage,” he told PW. “There’s wind behind our sail,” Teicher concluded.