The American Booksellers Association's road show explaining the details of its new IndieBound program landed in Southern California earlier this month, where ABA held four meetings over two days discussing the program with about 55 booksellers. One of those meetings kicked off SCIBA's Summer Quencher meeting, held in the courtyard of the Brentwood Country Mart, site of Diesel Bookstore's new location in Los Angeles that will open in August.
The booksellers were generally enthusiastic about IndieBound's potential. “This is really motivating for us,” said Diesel's manager and community coordinator Joey Puente. “IndieBound is creating a revolution on the independent bookstore level—people are waking up and realizing that we really do make a difference. And what's enriching for our customers is enriching for the whole community.”
Glenn Goldman, owner and founder of West Hollywood's Book Soup, will also support IndieBound, but he noted that it will not solve all of the challenges facing independents. “While IndieBound is a terrific marketing concept, and we'll be implementing some of its tools, the program is still limited in addressing the problems that exist in the trade right now,” he said. Recounting his experience of listening to Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos's speech at the recent BEA, in which Bezos decried the fact that Scott McClelland's hot new book was out of stock, Goldman speculated that it was sales made through the online retailer that likely resulted in the book being out of stock and unavailable to independents. The stock question “is just one of the issues that goes way beyond the concept of marketing, but I'll support IndieBound nonetheless,” Goldman said.
As part of her demonstration, Paige Poe, ABA's IndieBound outreach liaison, showed a PowerPoint display featuring images from stores across the country that are already putting IndieBound's marketing tools to use, most notably the oversized “Eat Sleep Read” poster that many stores now have hanging in their front windows. Poe also described ways to use IndieBound T-shirts, buttons, bookmarks and colorful 2”×3” cards imprinted with a variety of spirit taglines. Poe said initial feedback from stores has been “80% positive.” Poe stressed that IndieBound is much more customer-focused then BookSense, which the new program is replacing. “[IndieBound] consciously links stores with their customers, whereas BookSense created a relationship between indies and publishers. With its emphasis on buying locally our hope is that IndieBound will help increase sales at all the participating bookstores.” During her presentation, however, Poe did not address how booksellers could engage other retailers in launching community-wide shop local alliances, one of IndieBound's objectives.
Poe's SCIBA appearance is just one of several meetings ABA execs will have with booksellers about IndieBound this summer. “We gave booksellers a taste of IndieBound at BEA and now we want to show them the materials and get feedback on how to tweak the program,” ABACOO Oren Teicher said. Come autumn, ABA reps will be attending the regional fall shows to conduct IndieBound sessions, at which point Teicher expects to be able to present examples of how stores are implementing the program.