By Guinevere Platt
In front of Skylight Books' IndieBound display.
As the sun rose bright and early, so did the booksellers of Southern California who gathered last week for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association's first annual series of Summer Quencher Meetings. From San Diego, to Laguna Beach, to Pasadena and finally Brentwood, SCIBA staff and ABA IndieBound Outreach Liaison Paige Poe spread the word on all things business, fun, and independent! At four scheduled meetings, numerous bookstore visits, and with lots of coffee, booksellers of all genres gathered to learn and share ideas about one of the most important aspects of our jobs: Promoting localism and elevating awareness of its importance to our surrounding communities.
During the course of the meetings, 75 booksellers, representing more than 25 stores, shared ideas on a wide range of topics. How to incorporate IndieBound in stores and communities, using the SCIBA Holiday Catalog to increase sales, participating in the SoCalBookScene.com website, and using the Mentor Program to improve business were all on the table for discussion. Also put out on the table (a bit more literally) was an assortment of promotional items pertaining to Indiebound. Decorated with bookmarks, bags, buttons, rally cards, and T-shirts (not to mention coffee mugs filled to the brim), meeting rooms were filled with the color RED!
A fun time at the San Diego meeting.
SCIBA's Executive Director, Jennifer Bigelow, began each meeting by introducing and thanking Amy Sandberg from Co-optimize for helping to sponsor the event. The mic was then handed over to Sandberg, who presented her soon-to-be-launched web-based software that will assist stores in claiming co-op money from publishers. (She will be demonstrating the software at the regional trade show this fall).
Bigelow then discussed the Holiday Catalog and how, if advertised correctly, it can help boost bottom-line results. She suggested that stores in nearby sub-cities use the catalog to their advantage and "join forces by printing up a single bulk shipment and saturating the local papers with catalog insertions. Stores will then be promoting one another and therefore making consumers more inclined to shop independent." Laguna Beach bookstores did this last year to great success! Member San Diego stores are already looking at ways to utilize their proximity by uniting together on catalog distribution for this coming season.
Next on the agenda, (and the most lively discussion of all), was Paige Poe's lead-in to IndieBound. With a PowerPoint slideshow, she displayed various ways in which the contents of the Literary Liberation boxes could be put to use. And as the color red once again took center stage, questions and innovative ideas circulated the room. When Poe asked what other IndieBound collateral booksellers would like to see, hands were raised and suggestions were excitedly shouted.
Rubber wristband bracelets, mouse pads, license plate holders, pencils, canvas bags, key chains, promotional chocolate ... and the list went on.
While some stores have already displayed their enormous EAT SLEEP READ posters, others are still in prep for near-future launch parties.
In the offices of Book Soup.
With the IndieBound movement underway, we, as Independents, have come to realize that we are all bound not only by the "Indie Mind," but by the "Indie Soul." As booksellers across Southern California shared their thoughts, concerns, suggestions, and interests, it was apparent that, although the ideas exchanged at each meeting varied, the core theme remained the same.
As Independents, we are united, and together we can successfully move onward and upward -- "For the Love of Books."
Guinevere Platt is POS assistant manager/periodicals buyer at Vroman's in Pasadena and communications manager for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association.