We have an edict here at the American Booksellers Association that come Thanksgiving, as the holiday season heats up, we do our best not to bother members and interrupt what we know is very serious business for you — putting great titles into the hands of as many readers and book buyers as possible. But, before that deadline arrives, I wanted to share an update about some new tools from ABA, and other relevant information, that we hope will help you increase your holiday sales.
As you’ve probably read in recent issues of BTW, Saturday, November 26, is the second annual celebration of Small Business Saturday (SBS), a nationwide event organized by American Express that promotes holiday shopping at small local retailers. Last year, indie booksellers were among the many retailers nationwide that participated, and we heard positive feedback about the effectiveness of the promotion. In addition to the millions of social media connections and the national organizational and municipal support for SBS, most importantly, small retailers that accept the American Express card saw a 28 percent increase in sales.
This year, ABA is again working with AMEX to promote the campaign, and I strongly encourage you to participate. For a quick refresher on SBS, go to the event page on Facebook, and click “for your biz” on the left-hand navigation bar. On the Facebook page, under the Small Biz tab, you can access a number of promotional materials for both in-store and e-marketing. To further help booksellers promote the event, ABA has adapted some of the templates from the SBS Toolkit to make them more effective for bookstores. Those materials, which include press releases, blog posts, and e-mail or web announcements, can be found here.
To encourage participation, SBS is offering a number of incentives — everything from $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 business owners who sign up at the SBS Facebook page, to a $25 statement credit to the first 200,000 card members who register their cards and use them to shop on SBS at any locally owned, independent small business that accepts American Express. In order for your business to be listed in the SBS store finder, you need to sign up. So we strongly encourage you to do so!
It all adds up to a very dynamic campaign with a number of effective marketing tools, and we believe it offers indies a great opportunity to start the holiday season on a very positive note. If you have questions, I encourage you to contact ABA Membership and Marketing Officer Meg Smith.
And to help you more effectively market to holiday shoppers on Small Business Saturday and beyond, at the request of many members, there are are several new holiday designs available in the members-only BooksellerDIY on BookWeb.org. (The inspiration for this year’s message — “Indie Booksellers Hold Up Half the Sky” — came from a post on Tor.com that underscores the power of booksellers in their own communities.) In addition, in the DIY you’ll also find a number of new general poster and bag designs that emphasize the uniqueness and importance of locally owned, independent retailers, including the tagline “Find it here. Buy it here. Keep books on your Main Street.” I hope you can find some new designs that refresh your holiday messages.
As you review the materials in the DIY, the new designs are clearly tagged, and all the materials are offered as a bookmark and as a poster. And you can also right-click and save the images to use as web graphics. Again, should you have any questions, please, contact your membership relationship manager — either Kaitlin Pitcher (NAIBA, NCIBA, NEIBA, SCIBA regions) or Nathan Halter (GLIBA, MIBA, MPIBA, PNBA, SIBA regions). Their job is to help you take advantage of whatever ABA can offer.
And, finally, an important update about the fight for sales tax equity — and a request to do something this holiday season that might help us make 2012 the year when e-fairness is finally achieved. As you may have read in BTW, with the recent introduction of new sales tax equity legislation in the Senate and the House of Representatives we have seen very significant progress in our long fight for e-fairness. Recognizing how much so many of you have already done, the political reality is that this is a moment when it’s important to do even more.
First, it’s essential that you contact your elected representatives to express your support for the legislation that has been introduced in the Senate. To help you in this outreach, we have prepared a template letter that you can adapt and e-mail or fax to your senator. To access the letter, booksellers should go to ABA’s E-Fairness Action Kit, scroll down to their state, and click on the link for “Letter Supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act.”
Second, and, importantly, the holidays are also a perfect time to extend an invitation to elected officials — national, state, or local — to come and visit your store. Trust me, politicians are appreciative of the opportunity to meet with constituents, and a visit with them in your store is a perfect opportunity to discuss the key small business issues that affect your store and the businesses of other indie retailers in your community.
This season, we urge you to extend such an invitation to your member of Congress and/or U.S. senators, and, if they accept, use the opportunity to talk about why sales tax equity is so critical to your business. David Grogan, ABA‘s senior public policy analyst, will be pleased to provide you with materials about sales tax fairness to share. And, again, thank you for all that you have done — and continue to do — in this fight! We are making progress.
All best wishes to you for a busy and profitable holiday season from all of us here at ABA. As I said, we will try our best not to bother you in December, but if there is anything that we can do to help you, please, do contact Kaitlin or Nathan, and if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback regarding ABA, please never hesitate to contact me.
Oren J. Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association