Now Live From BEA ... ABA Education Programs

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In May, the American Booksellers Association launched "ABA Education Programs Online," a new benefit that provides member booksellers with access to streaming video of select ABA education programming through the association's trade website, Booksellers who have used the videos describe them as a highly effective and affordable way to bring educational programming to all staff members.

"ABA Education Programs Online" currently features three videos, with interactive PowerPoint slide presentations, of seminars from ABA's Day of Education at BookExpo America 2005 in New York City: "The 2% Solution," presented by Chuck Robinson of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, which focuses on the drivers of bookstore profitability and how they can be used to move a business to greater profitability; "Increasing Margin," presented by ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, aimed at booksellers already familiar with the principles of inventory management; and "Cost of Goods Sold 101," presented by Len Vlahos, the director of ABA's education program, which examines what the Cost of Goods Sold is, how it fits into and affects a bookstore's operating results, and the best, easiest, most accurate way to calculate it. Selected seminars from BEA 2006 will be online this fall.

The online programs have been accessible for only a short time, but they have already won high marks from booksellers, including Will Peters at Annie Blooms in Portland, Oregon. "It's fantastic," he said. "Obviously we can't afford to bring everyone to BEA or the Winter Institute. This is a fabulous tool that stores can use to make [educational programming] available to more people."

Peter Schertz of Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colorado, also considers the easy accessibility of the free (with ABA membership) program as one of the primary benefits of "ABA Education Programs Online." "I think the videos are incredibly useful because so much of this material needs to be understood at a staff level, not just at the owner and manager level," said Schertz.

He also appreciates the flexible format of the videos, which are divided into titled segments. "You can skip around in a presentation," Schertz said. "I like that because if you want to discuss one particular topic with a staff member, you can do that without having to watch the entire thing."

Schertz sees great possibilities in the online education program. "We think if this info trickles down to staff, it could be very powerful for the whole industry. I think it's really a breakthrough in ABA's educational programming," he said.

For Windows users, the videos are best viewed with the most current version of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. For Mac users, the presentations must be viewed with RealOne Player 9.0. A link to more detailed information on systems requirements can be found on the opening page of each individual session.

There is no charge for ABA members to view these sessions, but members will need their BookWeb login information. (Booksellers who do not have a username and password, can create one here.) --Karen Schechner