The ABC Children’s Group at ABA, which is dedicated to expanding the reach of children’s books, is a useful tool that all ABA member booksellers are invited to take advantage of.
“The ABC Group should be important to all booksellers, not just children’s-only stores,” said Lauren Savage, owner of The Reading Bug in San Carlos, California, and a member of the ABC at ABA Advisory Council. “Children are our future customers and if we continue to inspire and garner enthusiasm in young readers, we will have informed and well-rounded adults who will continue to keep our stores in business.”
The ABC Children’s Group coordinates several important programs that booksellers rave about from year to year, such as the Children’s Institute, which Savage said is her favorite event. “It’s the most exciting and interesting meet-up of the year. I can’t wait to get to Orlando this year to be among many of my favorite children’s authors and bookseller friends. I always come home full of optimism and new ideas that I want to implement right away.”
Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas, and a member of the ABC at ABA Advisory Council, said there is a different art and science to buying and selling children’s books. “This is why I think the Children’s Institute can improve the bottom line in the children’s category. The booksellers in my store who have been to Children’s Institute have come away with so much information and enthusiasm to share with the rest of the staff.”
Each year, the ABC Group produces the popular ABC Best Books for Young Readers catalog, a full-color newspaper insert and in-store/event handout that features more than 200 titles, including award-winning backlist books. Members of the ABC Children’s Group automatically receive 250 free catalogs each year.
“The fall catalog is worth the price of joining the ABC,” said Koehler, who distributes the Best Books for Young Readers catalog to the smaller schools in her community in place of book fairs, takes them to book talks, and uses them as bag stuffers in the store.
The ABC Listserv provides group members with a forum dedicated to children’s bookselling, a handy tool for booksellers looking for book suggestions, help with book fairs, cool ideas to use in stores, or any other challenges specific to children’s bookselling. The listserv includes nearly 200 members ready to share their ideas and suggestions.
Koehler said she personally enjoys reading the listserv because of the extensive experience shared by the booksellers who chime in. “If you don’t know the answer to your customer’s request, there is always someone on the listserv who knows the answer!”
Additional children’s initiatives from ABA include Indies Introduce, which showcases the top middle-grade and young adult debut titles of the season and provides booksellers with special publisher offers (see the newest crop of Indies Introduce picks here), and the national summer reading program Give Me Summer! Give Me Books!, which this year challenges young readers to pick up a 24-space Bingo card from their local independent bookstore and check off boxes for each book they read.
With annual dues of just $50, benefits of membership in the ABC Children’s Group are plenty. They include:
- A regular e-newsletter featuring the latest updates about the ABC Group and children’s bookselling
- Exclusive benefits relating to Children’s Institute registration
- Dedicated children’s bookselling education at Children’s Institute, as well as at Winter Institute
- Children’s bookselling-focused events at BookExpo America
- 250 free ABC Best Books for Young Readers catalogs
- Marketing materials and special terms for middle-grade and YA debut titles in the Indies Introduce program
- Give Me Summer! Give Me Books! summer reading program promotional materials
- A dedicated listserv
- A free “Snack Nap Read” poster upon joining
ABC Group membership is not automatically included with ABA membership or renewal; members must opt in annually. Current ABA members who would like to join the ABC Group can contact the Member Relationship Manager for their region: Nathan Halter (for the NCIBA, SCIBA, MPIBA, PNBA, SIBA regions) at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7514, or Catherine Cusick (for NAIBA, NEIBA, GLIBA, MIBA) at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7566. Those not currently ABA members can join ABA and select the opt-in option for the ABC Children’s Group membership on their application.
In 2010, the Association of Booksellers for Children’s member bookstores voted in favor of merging with the American Booksellers Association. The ABC at ABA Advisory Council is comprised of booksellers from the Booksellers Advisory Council, the ABA Board of Directors, and booksellers at large. Advisory Council members are drawn from both children’s-only bookstores and general-interest bookstores and represent various regions across the country.
Questions about the ABC Children’s Group at ABA can be directed to ABC Group Manager Matthew Zoni.