Bookselling in Tough Times: A Roundup

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In case you missed any of Bookselling This Week's previous coverage of Bookselling in Tough Times, here's a look at the resources available to help ABA member stores weather this season's economic challenges.

One-on-One Consultation

In a letter to bookstore members, ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz addresses the challenges facing booksellers in a turbulent economic environment and encourages members to set up an appointment to talk to him by sending an e-mail to Director of Member Services Jill Perlstein.

Financial Worksheets

Budgeting carefully is important in uncertain times. These worksheets can be used to monitor key expenses such as inventory and payroll. Topics include: Sales, Expenses, Inventory, Payroll, Productivity, and more.

ABA Webinar

An online seminar focusing on cash reserves, controlling expenses, managing inventory, managing staff, and providing leadership skills. ABA members can check availability and make a reservation for one of four sessions being offered before Thanksgiving by contacting ABA Education Coordinator Jamie Rogers.

Bookselling This Week's Tough Times Series
  • Loss Control - In desperate times, thieves come out in droves. Here are tips from experienced booksellers on how you can do your best to thwart them.
  • Cash Flow - Having control of cash flow will be key to determining whether your business is able to handle what lies ahead.
  • Remainders - In both good times and bad, many booksellers turn to remainders as a way to supplement and complement their inventory without breaking the bank. The benefits of selling remainders are simple but significant.
  • Merchandising - At any time of year, in any kind of economy, the importance of merchandising cannot be overstated. Offering customers a visually enticing and comfortable spot to shop, with the right product and title mix, can mean the difference between a profitable season and a poor one.
  • Staffing - During tough times, it's imperative that booksellers control costs. Payroll represents approximately 20 percent of a store's costs, so taking control of staffing is crucial for stores looking to weather economic turmoil.
  • Marketing - Tips for marketing when money is tight and the holiday season is fast approaching. Key among booksellers' recommendations is getting the message out that books are a great gift value.
  • Inventory Management - Four booksellers share their thoughts about inventory management in a tough economic climate coupled with the fast-approaching holiday season.

ABA Education Session Resources

One major advantage independent bookstores have in difficult times is their adaptability. These education session materials provide a starting point for optimizing your business, finding new profit areas, and minimizing overhead and loss.

  • Surviving Tough Times: Here are some suggestions on how to prepare your business for tough times.
  • Loss Control: How to Stop Profits From Running Out the Front (and Back) Door. Sample the Daily Records Sheet from Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops. Learn best practices to identify and control loss in your store.
  • Increasing Margin: Strategies for optimizing your inventory by adding high margin items and more effectively managing trade sales.
  • Green Retailing: Being a green retailer, or an environmentally friendly retailer, will not only raise your status among your current and future customers, it will also save you money and increase your bottom line.
  • Negotiating a Lease: Occupancy cost is a bookstore's second-largest expense; learn how to negotiate or renegotiate your terms.
  • Introduction to Co-op Advertising: The ABACUS study shows that profitable booksellers spend much less on advertising than unprofitable booksellers. This does not necessarily mean profitable bookstores advertise less, but it does mean that they claim more co-op.
  • Getting the Most Out of Your Website: A checklist of best marketing practices that will help you make your website a success.
  • Improving Efficiency: By using their time more effectively, making staff more productive, and implementing efficiencies throughout the store, managers will be able to devote more time and energy to achieving important strategic goals for the store.
  • Developing a Business Plan: Thinking critically about your business, and laying out strategic goals, can be a huge help in difficult times.

A Tool to Optimize Inventory Management

Above The Treeline monitors inventory and sales data from your store and provides rich, vital statistics about what's selling and what isn't. It's also possible to benchmark (anonymously!) your store's sales performance against similar stores, see which bestselling books your store is missing, even track sales by book category over time. It's accessible over the web or through e-mail. ABA Members receive a substantial discount.

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