Top 10 Things to Know About...



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To help indie booksellers as they enter the critical fourth quarter, in September 2020 the American Booksellers Association launched a webinar series on the “Top 10 Things to Know About…” The series will cover topics like cash flow, operational workflow, customer and sales data, ABA’s fall marketing campaign, virtual events, and more.

Watch Bookselling This Week for registration links for each event as well as recaps of each session. In addition, all webinars will be recorded and added to the Education Resources page, and the top 10 items on each topic will be listed below.


Top 10 Things to Know About: Cash Flow

  1. Revisit sales and inventory budgets with current trends in mind.
  2. Be cautious with cash and try to keep a cushion each week.
  3. Manage inventory levels and buy using a hybrid model; buy seasonally for popular titles and monthly for everything else.
  4. Use returns to manage cash flow; this means returning categories, such as travel, that won’t sell much this season as well as returning old inventory.
  5. Keep open lines of communication with your credit rep, and reconcile books with publisher statements to be sure you’ve received shipments.
  6. Establish a line of credit with your bank.
  7. Make sure you receive funds from credit card vendors daily.
  8. Adjust staffing levels to the current situation, and change staff hours based on traffic patterns.
  9. Don’t leave any publisher co-op on the table.
  10. In case of emergency, negotiate payment plans and deferrals if possible.


Top 10 Things to Know About: Ordering Calendars and Nonreturnables

  1. Use non-book, stationery, and toy purchases to improve your margins.
  2. Order with average turn numbers in mind. Booksellers might consider cutting orders down based on when orders are placed and what works best in their communities.
  3. If cutting orders, narrow options down by focusing on just a few vendors, and choose those vendors with discounts in mind.
  4. Consider buying with the intention of selling through much earlier in the season than usual to avoid having leftovers later that may not sell.
  5. Plan purchases to arrive throughout the season so there’s always something fresh for your regular visitors. Set calendars out upon arrival to give dated materials every possible chance to sell through.
  6. Be rigorous about markdowns at the end of the first turn cycle if an item is not paying for its shelf space.
  7. Use the coming weeks to test out new lines with smaller orders. If customers respond well, bring in a bigger order in the 4th quarter.
  8. Call before placing orders to see if vendors are offering split cases or lower minimums.
  9. Aggressively promote nonreturnable seasonal items.
  10. Take advantage of free freight, but don’t over-order just to qualify for a freight deal.


Top 10 Things to Know About: Buying Monthly

  1. Indie bookstores are shifting to monthly buying because of the disruption in business resulting from COVID-19
  2. Buying monthly can let you bring in smaller numbers of each book
  3. Buying monthly can let you look at smaller pub date windows, rather than an entire season’s catalog
  4. In other industries, buyers aim to hold onto their money until the very last second, which is in line with monthly buying
  5. Booksellers can keep a list of the store’s top 150 items and reorder them monthly, so they’re always in stock (this can be done simply by keeping a running spreadsheet that staff can add to)
  6. Stores can get a better margin on orders and have more inventory control when buying monthly
  7. Buyers can get a better sense of buzz surrounding a book closer to pub date and plan buying around that
  8. Some publishers have buying and promotion cutoffs that stores could miss if buying monthly
  9. Buying monthly means stores may not be able to get as much feedback from sales reps because the typical meeting window will have passed
  10. Stores ordering less than three to four weeks out from an on-sale date might not get the title by pub day because of delays with reprinting and shipping



About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.




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