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If you have ever been curious about how your independent bookstore shapes up compared to others — whether in terms of key expense categories or sales performance — each year, the American Booksellers Association offers you an opportunity to find out.

ABACUS-17 Report coverABACUS is a free annual report that provides detailed information about where your store falls across a range of areas, including profitability, productivity, and financial management. Having access to the ABACUS report is like adding a financial officer to your staff; it can inform you of areas that need improvement, areas in which your store is succeeding, and everything in between.

The annual survey that informs the report opens in early May, and booksellers who fill it out will receive in return a customized report in September. The more stores that fill out the survey, the more robust the reports will be.

Much of the information needed to fill out the survey will come from a store’s income statement and balance sheet, and all data shared through the ABACUS survey is confidential. Booksellers have several weeks in which to complete the survey, and the survey can be saved in progress and returned to at any time.

Questions about the ABACUS survey and report can be addressed to ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen.

For more information about ABACUS, check out the members-only materials on the ABA Education Resources page (under "filter results by tags," select "ABACUS").






ABACUS not only helps me run my business better — I share it with my bookkeeper, landlord, and staff — but it also allows ABA to illustrate to our industry partners the economic realities of indie bookstore operations, and helps everyone work on how to reduce our costs and sell more books all around.
— Jamie Fiocco, ABA President, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina



Running a bookstore without ABACUS is like trying to drive a car blindfolded. If we don't understand, at a visceral level, the drivers of profitability, we can't create a budget, manage payroll, make decisions about product mix, or have meaningful conversations with our landlords. It's as necessary to our business as a point of sale system, a website, or phone system.
— Len Vlahos, Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado


I've been completing the ABACUS survey and using the results every year since I bought Red Balloon in 2011. It is such an important planning tool for me, and now that the results are coming back earlier, it is even more helpful. These numbers give me more perspective on how our bookstore is doing and helps our bookstore set financial goals for the coming year. Thank you, ABA, for doing this survey every year!
— Holly Weinkauf, the Red Balloon


Completing the ABACUS reporting is one of those rare tasks that pays off over and over again. The reporting is robust and flexible. I find myself looking at different aspects of the business throughout the year, and I use ABACUS to see how we compare to our peers and to help my leadership team understand what we need to improve upon.
— Melissa DeMotte, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho



I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from ABACUS. It allows us to look at financial and operational benchmarks set by our colleagues around the country, look at our own performance, and ask, ‘Why is this different?’ I can say with confidence that we’re a much healthier store today than we would be without ABACUS.
— Andy Perham, Books Inc., San Francisco, California


ABACUS is essential to validating our store's performance to those outside our business — from the landlord and banker to business consultants and community investors. ABACUS is a convincing industry standard that proves our model works!
— Nicole Magistro, Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, Colorado

About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


PRESS CONTACT: Dan Cullen (dan@bookweb.org)


INDIECOMMERCE: staff@bookweb.org




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