Last week SIBA hosted the B3! webinar “Bringing Used Books into the Mix for Higher Sales and Profit.” Megan Bell and Josh Niesse from Underground Books in Carrollton, GA and Hills & Hamlets in Serenbe, GA, Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL, Frank Reiss of A Cappella Books in Atlanta, GA, and Shane Gottwal’s from Gottwals Books (franchising nationwide as "Walls of Books") of Macon, GA and beyond presented their best tips. Because all the presenters began as used booksellers adding in new books, stores transitioning in a similar way will also find this webinar quite informative.
Josh noted the “incredible variety of approach to including used books” among the panelists. He and Megan prefer to buy book collections from private homes rather than allowing folks to bring boxes of books to the store. These bulk purchases help the unit price go down. Although he and Megan emphasize being selective, when they find aesthetically interesting but damaged books, like children’s books, they may take them off the owner’s hands for free, and then use what they can from these books to create journals, buttons, and more for sale in their stores. They hold a quarterly sidewalk sale to clear out inventory, and these days are often record sales days.
Although Cathy’s store is moving towards 70% new and 30% used, they do quite well with used books in genres like mystery and romance, and have a separate antiquarian book section. They are quite selective about what they bring in, Cathy emphasizing that “more isn’t better" and they only buy "gently-used" books. She loves the “cool factor” of beautiful and retro antiquarian books, and mentioned a growing trend in younger customers appreciating and purchasing antiquarian books.
Frank cautioned that “it’s a challenge to do both (new & used books) well.” He noted that they are very different from each other. The aesthetics and price margins for used books appeal to him, but he’s always considering the allocation of labor costs, as well has how to best merchandise them. He advised booksellers looking to add used books to “respect how much time used books can take...if you’re going to do both, then have a lot of focus.” He agreed with Cathy’s comment about younger customers being drawn to used books, saying, “Young people do seem to be getting into old books in a way that surprises me, and is gratifying.”
Shane’s buying philosophy is one of bringing in as much product as you can in categories that do well for you. His buyers are serving multiple stores and selling online, with the ability to store overstock in a warehouse, which is different from the other presenters. He suggested keeping used books separate from new books in the store, at least initially. He also believes online sales of college textbooks is a lucrative market for new stores wanting to start selling used.
Questions from attendees including paying for used books with credit and/or cash, charging for shipping, online sales and pricing, and whether adding used books undermines new book sales.
Additional resources are Cathy Graham’s tips and pitfalls when adding used books to your new book inventory, Josh and Megan’s Used Book Sorting Chart, and tipsheet on evaluating used book values, and Shane’s 2017 Winter Institute presentation on bringing used books into your inventory. All are available in our Peer Brain Trust under Working with Business Resources.
Posted By Christy, Avid Bookshop,
Monday, October 21, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2019
I feel so lucky to have had the chance to attend SIBA this year in Spartanburg, a town that is so vibrant and changing. Having the opportunity to attend as a scholarship recipient is something I will always be grateful for. It was amazing to be able to immerse myself completely in every seminar, meal with an author, and publisher meeting that was offered. I also am so grateful for the chance to connect with other booksellers and events staff - to have the chance to see how they thrive and struggle in similar and different ways than our own shop and how we can grow together as a greater community of indie bookstores in the South. ~Christy, Events Assistant and Bookseller, Avid Bookshop, GA
Stores that are participating in SIBA's Holiday Catalog program should be receiving their catalogs within the next couple weeks. Here are the next steps you should take to make the most of the catalog and maximize your holiday sales:
Ingram is also offering a promotion on catalog title orders: Get +3% OFF any title in the Regional Holiday Catalogs No promo code needed. Plus, get FREE freight for qualifying orders. Order Now! Offer valid from October 2 – December 14.
2) Upload your email newsletter materials
All stores participating in the catalog also get email catalog newsletters sent to your customer list. The newsletters, which are created and powered by Shelf Awareness, will be sent in four seperate emails, once a week, between November 8 and December 12. Ecommerce cabability is not required.
SIBA stores who do not use IndieCommerce can request the web-version of the catalog for their stores from SIBA. Email email@example.com.
SIBA stores without ecommerce-capable websites can request a "no click" version of the catalog for their website. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Plan your in-store displays
While the catalog itself is an invaluable tool for capturing holiday sales, you can boost your sales with in-store catalog displays and signage. Here is a slit card/shelf talker for use in your displays and to highlight catalog titles wherever they are found on the shelf:
SIBA booksellers share that talking shop with other booksellers, discussing what’s going well, or not, at their stores, makes a big, positive, difference. Conversations can spark a new approach to author events, the creation of a press kit, a reexamination of training practices, the decision to switch to another POS system, or maybe a road trip to visit other bookstores and be inspired.
Beginning in 2020, we’re extending the resource roundtable experience we offer at our Discovery Show into a monthly event on zoom. These zoom events will offer a face-to-face opportunity to discuss areas in your business, peer-to-peer, that you’d like some feedback on, or wish to share success stories about, with your colleagues.
What subjects would you like to see as topics for roundtable discussion? Would you like to be one of the hosts for a particular discussion? Please email email@example.com and let’s talk!
Posted By Nora Ketron, Star Line Books,
Monday, October 14, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2019
The 2019 SIBA Discovery Show was an incredible experience, one filled with learning, networking, amazing new reads, and a jam-packed weekend that made me even prouder to be a part of the Southern bookselling world than when I started. I came to SIBA 19 hoping to hone my understanding of the industry, especially as it relates to the many things that make bookstores so special in the South. I was able to accomplish this and much, much more. I spent time learning about management best practices, handselling techniques, how to improve and refine our e-commerce platform. Meeting other first-time attendees and booksellers who are faced with some of the exact same challenges and rewards I am was inspiring and encouraging. The trade show floor was a veritable cornucopia of delights and opportunities, offering the chance to source sidelines, new reads, meet and network with reps from the big five publishers and small presses alike. I spent time getting to know authors, thinking about new ways to feature and highlight southern writers in my shop, and gained a much better understanding of the industry landscape and just how and why one small shop fits into that landscape. SIBA 19 was truly a chance at discovery, and I am so thankful and grateful for the chance to have attended and the scholarship funds that made it possible. ~Nora Ketron, Bookseller & Coordinator of Many Things, Star Line Books, TN
Store and location: Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA
Position at the store: Bookseller/Assistant Buyer
Store's Social Media Stats: We have 12.3k Twitter followers, thanks to Kelly's viral tweet about a certain unnamed online retailer! last December. We have a strong presence on Facebook and Instagram as well, with different employees heading up different branches of social media.
Events and buyer contact info:Kelly Justice, firstname.lastname@example.org
Number of years as a bookseller: Almost two years.
Best part about being a bookseller?Books! And people, and helping people find their new favorite author or book :)
What book(s) are you reading? I am almost done with Her Sister's Tattoo, a story about two sisters who were pulled apart during the anti-Vietnam protests in the late 1960s. It's really powerful and follows their story and the consequences their actions have for years after.
Favorite handsell of 2019: This is a tough one! I loved Where the Crawdads Sing but that doesn't need much help selling. A mystery that I try to get everyone to read is An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.
Best thing you did this year at your store: I love all of our events, but my favorite one was getting to interview Mesha Maren about the incredible novel Sugar Run back in February
What are some ways you work with your community? We partner with other businesses in our neighborhood and will be putting on a festival later this month to celebrate Halloween in the community. We also have events at some great offsite venues like the Poe Museum, American Civil War Museum, Sam Miller's restaurant, and several others!
Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? I play in a local branch of an international all-female pinball league and I've recruited several coworkers to join me. It's such a fun, supportive environment with an amazing group of women! I love that my bookseller sisters get to be a part of it with me.
Top priority for 2019:We have a new plan in our store called #SellOneMoreBook, and the intention is to get just one extra book into a customer's hands. The impact it can make in sales is really powerful. We are also dedicated to continuing to bring fun, interesting events to our community as often as possible.
Favorite SIBA programming benefit:I love meeting and connecting with other booksellers, and getting to talk to the publishers and authors. The authors are all like rock stars to me, and being in the bookselling world is a dream come true.
Some of the reviews submitted this week on Edelweiss+ from your fellow SIBA booksellers. SIBA members earn B3! points for every review if they join the SIBA community on Edelweiss. Email email@example.com to be added.
9780062913463Nothing to See Here 10/29/2019
"Absolutely loved this book, I listened to it on Libro.fm. Quirky, entertaining, smart, and funny. I could not put it down. I can not wait to put this book into hands of readers I know will love it as much as I did. Thank you Kevin Wilson for giving the weird and wonderful a voice! And thank you to Marin Ireland for doing an excellent job with the southern accent! " -- Jessica Osborne, E. Shaver, booksellers, Savannah, GA
9780316485340Little Weirds 11/5/2019
"Little lovely weirds from the big, lovely, weirdness of Jenny Slate's brain. I am recommending that you get both a physical copy to beautify your shelves and the audiobook so that Slate can croon her little weirds into your ears and that way your hands are free for snacking or petting the dog or arranging acorns on your mantle. You will laugh and sigh and wish her words could bring things to life because she is, after all, a magical person so it should be a thing she can do. And who knows? Maybe she will. "-- Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA
9781640092587The Revisioners 11/5/2019
"Reminiscent of Octavia Butler's KINDRED, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's new novel is a brilliant story that transcends time. Told over the course of almost 100 years, and several generations of one family, this book confirms that the dark legacy of slavery is something we cannot escape, even in the 21st century. Several times while reading this I had to put it down and step away. It is unflinchingly honest and brutal in a way that is hard to read. There is a suspense building throughout that made me think something terrible was lurking under the surface of both Josephine and Ava's stories. " -- Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
9781635573657The Broken Road 12/3/2019
"The Broken Road is an incredibly honest memoir from the daughter of George Wallace, Peggy Wallace Kennedy. She gives her view of her father's life, political struggles, and personal values. Kennedy also details how she came to a heightened awareness about the hurt her father caused so many with his stand against desegregation. A must-read for those who are interested in Southern history, politics, and the civil rights era." -- Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
"Our lives are worth literature. it doesn't matter where you come from, or who your parents were, or how broken or torn apart your home was, the life you lived was worth writing about." -- Wiley Cash
When Wiley Cash was chosen to be the 2020 Conroy Legacy he was able to sit down and talk to Linda-Marie about Pat Conroy, independent bookstores, and what it means to be a writer in his home state of North Carolina.
"The first time I met Pat Conroy was in 2013. I was in a room with him and it was like a solar system with a black hole, all of the energy in the room was going towards him just by his presence." --Wiley Cash
Those videos, along with a list of Cash's books, graphics to share on social media, and downloadable posters are available to SIBA booksellers in the Wiley Cash Conroy Legacy Award Toolkit
Posted By Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette,
Monday, October 7, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2019
This year at SIBA was one of my best experiences. I felt like I was coming home, so many friends and authors that I have seen in the past felt much more comfortable. I sensed a lightness of spirit throughout the total event. There was more laughter and optimism in the meal events and in the workshops. The AUTHORinteraction which revolved around Pat Conroy’s friends was especially jovial. Delightful to attend!
I’m very grateful to have been able to attend this year and thank SIBA for their support of indie booksellers! SIBA is my family! ~Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, AL
One of the highlights of last month's #SIBA19 was the Parapalooza event, held in the hotel bar -- for ambiance -- and by all accounts a riotously funny hour filled with authors reading short paragraphs from their books, WITH FEELING.
But for all its hilarity and deep-felt moments, the night was missing something, or rather, someone. T.J. Klume, author of the much-looked-for "The House in the Cerulean Sea" had been scheduled to read, but instead became the victim of a capricious set of circumstances when his flight was delayed because of mechanical problems (not the sort of thing a passenger wants to hear), making him late for his connecting flight, which after being rescheduled was also delayed...because of mechanical problems.
Since he couldn't be on-site at the show, we asked him to record video so booksellers would have a chance to meet him (and his cat) and hear about his wonderful book.
"1984 meets The Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in." (Gail Carriger)
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. An enchanting love story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours. The House in the Cerulean Sea is Lambda Literary Award-winning author TJ Klune’s breakout contemporary fantasy.
TJ Klune is an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. He has won the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance and the 2016 the Gold Medal from the Florida Publisher’s Association. Visit him online at TJKluneBooks.com, on Twitter at @tjklune or on Instagram as @tjklunebooks.
The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is a trade association which represents hundreds of bookstores and thousands of booksellers in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi.
SIBA exists to empower, promote, and celebrate our core member bookstores in a spirit of partnership. "Core members" are independent, privately held, brick and mortar, commercially zoned bookstores with a retail storefront, in our region.