While much emphasis has been placed on the ability of indie booksellers to sell e-books online to stay competitive with online booksellers, their ability to sell print books and other items online is essential.
In an e-newsletter sent late last week to members of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, the organization revealed the level of discontent of its board and that of the New England Independent Booksellers Association with the American Booksellers Association’s IndieCommerce site.
“The customer experience feels as if it’s at least a decade behind other online sites, highlighted by a completely inadequate search engine. We do not expect ABA to offer a site equal to that of Amazon or other online giants, but we do believe the current site is in immediate need of significant upgrades,” wrote the NAIBA board.
The NEIBA board wrote in support of the NAIBA letter. “It appears to us that, despite the valiant efforts of the ABA staff, the organization is under-investing in its digital initiatives.... What is particularly striking is that, almost one year after a major IndieCommerce infrastructure upgrade, we still lack a number of important features that were available prior to the upgrade and we would be hard pressed to identify any significant features that have been made possible by the upgrade,” the letter stated.
Similar complaints were made at the ABA Spring Forum held in conjunction with NEIBA in April. Bookseller Josh Cook at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., noted that their research indicates that customers drop off the store’s website after a search.
At the time, ABA CEO Oren Teicher told booksellers that the ABA board has commissioned a study of how it is competing online and has a task force of booksellers, who are looking at independent bookstores’ online presence.
ABA president Betsy Burton responded to the organizations’ letters by acknowledging that the new platform still has some kinks. “We have high hopes that we can not only accomplish [working them out] pretty quickly but also begin to make greater headway in other areas—and we completely agree that issues surrounding the search function are of the highest priority,” she wrote.