ABACUS Financial Survey to Open April 21

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After a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, the American Booksellers Association’s annual financial survey — the ABACUS report — is restarting this month. As bookstores rethink strategies and operations in a post-COVID world, the insight from ABACUS regarding how your store compares with others — whether in terms of key expense categories or sales performance — has never been more important.

The ABACUS survey for years 2019 and 2020 will be open for ABA member bookstores beginning April 21.

“ABACUS 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,” noted ABA CFO PK Sindwani, who himself was a bookstore owner for 29 years and an ABACUS participant. “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.”

ABA member bookstores will receive instructions to access the survey on April 21 in an email from Michael Becher of Industry Insights, with the subject line “ABACUS Benchmarking Survey.” Booksellers are encouraged to check with their colleagues or in their spam folder if they did not receive the email. Bookstores that join the ABACUS community by filling out the survey will receive in return a customized report in September. The more stores that fill out the survey, the more robust the reports will be.

Some key facts:

  • Much of the information needed to fill out the survey will come from a store’s income statement and balance sheet,
  • All data shared through the ABACUS survey is confidential. ABA never sees any store’s individual data,
  • Booksellers have several weeks in which to complete the survey, and
  • The survey can be saved in progress and returned to at any time.

The ABACUS reports for this reporting cycle will cover both 2019 and 2020 financial results, providing participating stores with a user-friendly overview of the economy with regards to the impact of COVID-19, informative graphs, and interpretive information.

Participating stores will receive:

  • Industry-wide reports for 2019 and 2020, including an executive summary, detailed survey results, and multi-year trend comparison tables,
  • Individual company performance reports — confidential, individualized reports shown alongside appropriate industry comparatives (for instance, net sales and profitability, etc) that give stores an easy way to interpret their ABACUS results and provide actionable feedback on the success and/or improvement areas for each respondent.
  • Excel data tables of the aggregated ABACUS results for 2019 and 2020, to which they can add their stores’ data for analysis.

This year, ABA will again be working to compile and create the ABACUS report with Industry Insights in Dublin, Ohio, a company that has worked with associations for more than 35 years in preparing studies of business demographics, operations information, and financial ratios. In compiling the data and preparing individual reports, no one from ABA ever sees any store’s individual data, which is only available to select staff at Industry Insights and kept strictly confidential.

The deadline for submitting to ABACUS is Monday, May 31. Booksellers with any questions about ABACUS are encouraged to contact ABA’s Dan Cullen or Industry Insights’ Michael Becher.