As part of its Authors Round the South consumer offerings, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is getting ready to launch a program designed to help booksellers find a small batch-high margin product that will sell at stores throughout the region.

The idea for producing a nonbook item that could boost the bottom line at stores in the South came to SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell, she told PW, after meeting with innovator Doug Hall, founder of Eureka! Ranch.

“My goal,” said Jewell, “is to create a high-margin item that will sell easily and often. That’s my dream.” And she plans to begin acting on it this fall by encouraging member stores to test a variety of products, ranging from notebooks and coffee mugs to chocolates. These products, and/or their packaging, will link back to the region with signatures from some of the South’s biggest authors.

Currently SIBA is in the midst of what Jewell calls the “fail fast, fail cheap stage of the process.” In addition to putting together a menu of items for booksellers to sell at their stores, the group is offering bookstores branding opportunities to market these products as exclusive collectibles. To that end, the items either support local businesses or are branded as specifically for Southern writers and readers.

Booksellers will be asked to report back on how their sales went, and on how the branding worked out. Based on the responses, SIBA will offer a second round with fewer small batch products in the coming year. Jewell plans to continue refining the concept until booksellers find a single item that works across the board.