From the start, gift certificates have been a key but slow-growing part of the Book Sense program. To allay customer concerns that there won't be stores near their uncle, aunt or cousin to redeem the certificates, the ABA created a new map sponsored by Fodor's that's available in two sizes to show where the country's 1,200 Book Sense stores are located—size large is 1.5 × 3 feet, and extra large is 3 × 5 feet.
"We wanted the map out before the regional shows, and people are just nuts for it," Carl Lennertz, soliciting and marketing consultant for the ABA, told PW. "What it does for both the bookseller and the customer is, it shows, 'oh, my God, there's a lot of you and you're national.' " An updated four-page flyer sponsored by Time Warner supplements the map and lists all the Book Sense stores. This flyer lists every town and city that has a Book Sense store. In addition, customers can call the toll-free (888) BOOKSENSE or consult the bookstore directory on BookSense.com. Stores also have a 32-page binder at the front counter, and they can even print a list of stores by state via PDF files at bookweb.org.
While booksellers can carry both their own gift certificate and the Book Sense one, "we do see the Book Sense Gift certificates building," said Lennertz, whose goal is to sell a million dollars' worth of gift certificates this year. As he sees it, "It's one more visit to an independent. Long term, we want to sell between $3 million and $5 million a year."
Past NEBA president Donna Urey of White Birch Books in North Conway Village, N.H., has given the new Book Sense map pride of place. It's the first thing customers see when they walk in her store. It's "a wonderful tool," Urey told PW. "We have switched totally to Book Sense gift certificates, other than for donations. I would say that at least 90% get redeemed here, but at least it builds awareness in customers to come to you if they're going to send something to people far away."
"It's all building each year, and this year looks very good," said Lennertz. "We'll keep on with the various efforts next year, including up to four rounds of 350,000 city/state fliers and possibly a new map every year."