ABA's Curriculum Guide on BookWeb.org offers member booksellers more than 100 free educational resources, covering everything from formulating a business plan and conducting a store survey to creating killer events and stocking a graphic novels section. The guide is divided into five major sections -- Advocacy, IndieBound, Finances, Bookstore Management & Operations, and Bookstore Sales & Marketing -- each featuring best business practices and innovativeideas shared by indie booksellers, other book industry leaders, and ABA staff at an ABA education event in the last several years. Some are PowerPoint presentations, others are in PDF or video format, but all are available online 24/7.
If you missed the Winter Institute or an ABA Day of Education at BEA, here's the place to catch up on marketing checklists, tech glossaries, and just about anything else related to bookselling.
In the Advocacy section, find out how you can work alongside ABA and other indie booksellers to bring about e-fairness in your state. There's also plenty of information about how to build Local First/Shop Local campaigns and samples of event fliers from the likes of Tome on the Range Bookstore in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Women & Children First in Chicago.
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression provides a free speech checklist, information on explaining the First Amendment to customers, what to do if the police arrive requesting customer records, and more.
Not sure what IndieBound is, but were afraid to ask? The answers are here.
There are also step-by-step guides, such as this year's Winter Institute IndieBound Design Workshop handout, which walks users through creating designs for store bookmarks, posters, websites, and more. Each step is explained thoroughly.
Learn the best ways to go about renegotiating your lease, how to claim and manage co-op dollars, and more in the guide's Finances section. Especially in this economy, knowing how to claim every dollar available to you while doing everything to reduce expenses can be critical to the survival of your business.
Bookstore Management & Operations
The Bookstore Management & Operations section is the mother lode for best business practices. Materials here include resources for those just starting out in the book business as well as those looking to improve the operations of stores of any age. Topics cover a wide range, including developing a business plan, reimagining your store, remainder buying, loss control, green retailing, children's bookselling, graphic novels, succession planning, and more. There's plenty here for tech novices (see the Language of Technology for an expanded glossary of frequently used terms and concepts in the tech world), and social media holdouts can get up to speed with Social Media and the Independent Bookstore .
Thanks to Michael Barnard of Rakestraw Books in Danville, California, there's also Wi5's The Business of Accepting Credit & Debit Cards,to help you make decisions about the best credit and debit card options for your business.
Bookstore Sales & Marketing
Among this section's resources are several Wi5 session materials, including Techniques & Tactics for Online Website Promotion, outlining dozens of ways to drive traffic and sales to the store website, and E-Books and Opportunities, explaining how indie bookstores can ensure they're a part of the e-books revolution.
There's lots of critical information available to booksellers directly from customers, and to help you gather it, the Curriculum Guide provides sample surveys, how-to instructions, and training guides.
Popular multimedia resources include ABA's video vignettes, which dramatize 10 potential customer service scenarios to show the best and worst practices in five key areas of bookselling.
Other Bookstore Sales & Marketing information focuses on creating killer events, building and rewarding customer loyalty, offering print-on-demand services in your store, and developing sections and events that appeal to romance or graphic novel readers.
There's so much in the Curriculum Guide for booksellers at every level of experience, whether owners or staff. All that's needed to access it is a BookWeb log-in. If you don't have one, create one now. --Karen Schechner