As I write this, my ABA colleagues and I have been on the road traveling to regional trade shows, and, as always, it has been great to have the chance to meet so many of you and hear the latest news about your stores and your communities. All of us are grateful for your feedback, ideas, and suggestions regarding ABA initiatives and programming. We always come back from the shows with a full notebook, and that input directly translates into helping us provide more relevant and effective services for our members. If we did not connect at the fall shows — or even if we did — please keep the ideas coming. You can always reach us via e-mail or phone. (And here’s a link to our contact page.)
At the shows this fall, we did hear from many of you about how the Local First/Shop Local movement has continued to strongly influence the way your customers are shopping. One clear indicator is the growth of Small Business Saturday (SBS). Awareness and participation has steadily grown since the first SBS in 2010, and last year approximately $5.5 billion dollars was spent in independent businesses on that one day. Clearly, millions of Americans are deciding to make a growing proportion of their purchases in locally owned, indie businesses, and we expect shoppers to be out in force on November 30, this year’s SBS.
But I strongly believe that we have barely scratched the surface of what can be achieved. Last year, ABA’s multi-publisher promotion “Thanks for Shopping Indie” (TFSI) — which kicked off with SBS — made a very strong debut, and TFSI is returning this November. Your participation in TFSI is a great opportunity to showcase a wide-ranging list of quality titles — all of which have appeared on either the Indie Next List or the Indie Bestseller list — that are available at terms that allow you to say “thanks” to your customers. In addition, the success of TFSI can underscore to the industry just how important the indie channel is for the discovery of consumers’ next great read. Here’s a link to more information, and we’ll soon be posting new marketing materials in the DIY to help you promote TFSI in your stores.
There are many allies who are helping to spread both the message of the renaissance of indie bookstores and the power and promise of localism. That became even more clear in September, when author Sherman Alexie launched “Indies First,” in which he calls on his fellow authors to show their support for independent booksellers by signing up to work at their favorite indie bookstore on SBS. Already, scores of authors nationwide have joined him, and they, too, will be volunteering in their local indie bookstores.
This is an amazing grassroots movement that is fueled by the common passion and commitment that forms the unique bond between authors and booksellers. I hope you have had a chance to read Sherman’s call to arms, and that you will be a part of what I know will be an incredible experience.
Very much in the spirit of Indies First, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to review the debut adult and children’s titles that have been chosen by two committees of your peers for the new season of “Indies Introduce.” Here’s a link to the full story about the program — but here’s the important take-home message: This program showcases to your customers like no other the unique role that you play in discovering not only the best great writing of today, but, also, the bestsellers of tomorrow. Like TFSI, the titles in this program are being offered at favorable terms, and ABA has developed DIY marketing materials that will help your in-store marketing.
I know that’s a lot to cover, but in the run up to the holiday season I think it’s vitally important that we don’t underestimate by one iota the importance of the localism movement. It is driving customers into your stores, and independent booksellers have been at the forefront of Local First/Shop Local, pioneering early victories that formed the foundation of today’s success. We hope these programs are just one more way for you to increase your store’s sales and community presence, knowing that the more bookstores that participate, the greater our national profile becomes.
Here’s to a great start to the holiday season!
CEO, American Booksellers Association