Mid-South Booksellers Forum Stresses Colleagues' Interaction

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When booksellers from Kansas to Louisiana and all points in between travel hundreds of miles in the middle of the week to meet for three hours in Dallas, they want to accomplish a lot. And they did on April 10 in Dallas -- according to a number of booksellers who attended both an ABA Booksellers Forum and bookseller programming, which was sponsored by the Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association (MSIBA). Both events were hosted by The Enchanted Forest Bookstore.

Oren Teicher, ABA COO, met with over 20 booksellers from the far-flung region to discuss in detail the ABA Strategic Plan, and to answer any questions about ABA and its programs. Also attending was ABA Booksellers Advisory Council member Michele Lewis of Afro-American Book Stop in New Orleans. Among the booksellers who came for the day’s events were those with barely a year’s experience, as well as those who have owned and operated stores for decades. New booksellers from Books on the Square in Granbury, Texas -- Viki Young, owner, and Sherry Mann, manager -- listened carefully to the observations and advice of those attending.

A major part of the forum was a discussion regarding the new ABA Strategic Plan. As in other forums, booksellers in the region had received in advance a survey questionnaire listing the new plan’s six proposed goals, and they had been asked to rank them in order of importance.

Young told BTW that when ranking priorities for the ABA, she was aware of how important networking and sharing information with ABA and other booksellers was. "Our uniqueness is what we all have to sell, but we each run our stores very differently. We need to play on what makes us special to make people aware of the benefit of our stores," she said.

MSIBA President Tamra Doré of Katy Budget Books in Katy, Texas, mentioned how valuable the ABA educational programs and information are to those in the mid-South since many stores are very isolated geographically, "[These stores] don’t see reps, and they may not be able to travel to BEA."

All attendees contacted remarked on the dynamic and informative afternoon presentation by Debbie McClure, vice-president of MSIBA and owner of Abilene Bookstore in Abilene, Texas. She brought examples of the many and varied sidelines that she carries, which, she said, boost her sales tremendously. She also introduced a sales rep to describe the ordering process from the vendor’s perspective and to offer advice for those considering different sideline products.

Jennifer Anglin, owner of the host store, The Enchanted Forest, was enthusiastic about the meeting. "I like meeting in a member bookstore," she told BTW. "It’s a lot of fun to be with other booksellers and also to see how others do it…. We had time for an open discussion --'have you had this author… how do you display that.' We had a nice range of experience, from 20-year veterans to new people who have a fresh perspective on things." -- Nomi Schwartz