A Letter to the Editor

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So I'm puzzled ...

I read the article in [last] week's Bookselling This Week about the lack of participation in ABACUS. Only 150 stores in the entire country have sent in numbers to ABA for this year's survey.

I am puzzled because ABA is working on our behalf, spending countless dollars for one purpose: To make our stores more profitable. Why is there not a 100 percent participatory rate in this survey? Is everyone making enough money?

I am puzzled because there are countless conversations about the "struggle" of bookselling. About how we have to stop the chains from coming in and disrupting our business. About how small bookstores "just can't make it" anymore. But then when it comes to taking this very smallest of steps to improve one's bottom line, there is little interest.

I just don't get it. If people don't have time for filling out the form, what are they doing with their time?

I'm here to say that ABACUS has been invaluable for our little bookstore. We have modified our business plan based upon our results and by comparing our numbers with those stores that are even more successful. We are doing well and have been more profitable every year since we opened, and I give much of the credit to the industry organizations (ABA, PNBA) and their programs.

I hope more people spend the hour to send in their financial numbers to ABA and then use the data that ABA sends back to make their store more successful and to keep the world of independent bookselling alive and thriving. ABA is trying to help us, but we have to help ourselves.

Brian Sweet
Trails End Bookstore
Winthrop, Washington

For more information about ABACUS, and for the 2006 Survey Form, click here.
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