BookPeople: Creating Banners to Spread the Indie Word

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Claire Klassen couldn't wait to return home from BookExpo America and start using IndieBound at Austin, Texas' BookPeople. "We are the perfect environment to spread the message of 'independents,'" she explained.

As BookPeople's merchandising director, Klassen recognized that IndieBound's message of Buy Local would work well in displays at the store, and would also jibe with the city slogan, "Keep Austin Weird." "Our customer base is as broad a base as one can imagine," she told BTW. "So I wanted to bring this message to them in a way that could reach them all."

To broadcast the message, Klassen thought "what better way to announce it then how they do in department stores -- in big, bold banner form." She added, "This gives a customer a sign shape and layout they're used to seeing. Allowing them to look past the sea of wall-to-wall books that are in every bookstore, and focus on the message."

Klassen turned to the IndieBound toolkit of logos, spirit lines, and other designs that lend themselves to customizing and chose three lines -- "Are You Doing Your Part to Keep America Interesting," "Celebrate the Independents in Your Community," and "Shop Local First" -- to print on the 16'' x 40'' banners, along with other design elements. The banners hang over a BookPeople Buy Local display featuring a wide range of titles whose focus extends from the benefits of local farmers markets to books about the effects of Wal-Mart on the economy.

Asked to outline for other booksellers how she created her banners for BookPeople, Klassen said: "I went to the DIY section on, downloaded the IndieBound Logo, and took note of a few of the clever sayings and messages on the promotional materials. I used free vector art, some I paid for, and some I made myself for the shapes and background effects.

Click for larger image.

"To create the banners I used Illustrator CS3, a program similar to Photoshop. There are other programs, such as Gimp, that are free and easier to use for the computer un-savvy. I made a new document and set my document boundaries to the size and shape of the banners. Then I placed the downloaded files, clip art, and vector files onto my document, and rearranged and resized until I came up with a layout I liked."

Klassen brought the files to the local sign shop, which helped her with final touch-ups and layout options. She chose a double-sided banner and a layout that allowed for the use of wooden dowels at the top and bottom.

For booksellers who think this sounds a bit complicated, Klassen added, "It was easy enough... if you have a basic knowledge of the software programs. If you don't, it might take a week or two to get the hang of the programs. At the end of those two weeks, if your computer monitor is still alive, you'll begin to make some really amazing things. You don't have to be a designer or artist to work these programs. It just takes a little time."

Another bonus is that staff loves the display and is "enthused about the initiative," she said. "The more I can show the staff how cool and important this message is, the more they will want to share it with the customers. We just have to put the info in their hands, get the words in their heads, and the message in their hearts." --Karen Schechner