Book Sense gift certificates are issued by the ABA in batches of 150. Book Sense membership includes the first set free, while additional orders of 150 are $12. Much like bank checks, each group of certificates is printed with a sequence of numbers identifying the store that purchased them. The certificates are printed on special security stock designed to reveal erasures or changes.

When a store sells a certificate, it stamps the back with the store's sales validation information and takes payment from the customer. If that certificate is redeemed at its store, no further action is needed. If the certificate is redeemed elsewhere, the certificate is forwarded to the ABA. The ABA reimburses the redeeming store less a 5% handling fee for processing the transaction. The ABA deducts the certificate's face value from the account of the store where it originated.

All Book Sense member stores are required to accept the certificates and to have them available for sale.

Book Sense certificates are valid at 1,207 locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Barnes & Noble certificates can be used at 505 stores; Borders at 398 locations.