From the Land of SIBAA message from SIBA to its membership
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Reader Meet Writer: An Author Event Series on Zoom for SIBA member bookstores
Bookstore Deadline for Grady Hendrix is Saturday, April 4
RSVP to Wanda Jewell firstname.lastname@example.org
SIBA has created the Reader Meet Writer Author Series as an event alternative for bookstores that--now that most of the country in under some version of a shelter in place order—are seeking to create ways to engage with their customers online. Participating stores will be able to invite their customers to exclusive video events with authors which are only available to SIBA stores. Events will be hosted by SIBA and can be attended by up to 1000 people. Bookstores handle all ticket and book sales from their customers.
Here is the confirmed schedule so far:
Reader Meet Writer, Okra Pick
April 7: Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires / Grady Hendrix
April 16: The Coyotes of Carthage / Stephen Wright
April 21: Blue Marlin / Lee Smith
April 28: Feels Like Falling / Kristy Woodson Harvey
Please fill out our COVID-19 Bookstore Impact & Best Practices survey, to let us know how COVID-19 has affected you and your bookstore. We want to stay connected to member stores, and find out what’s going on in your communities. We're also looking to share with other member stores those best practices that you have implemented in your store. This information will be shared with the ABA to advocate for financial relief funding for independent bookstores and small businesses.
As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we encourage you to return to this form at any time to submit a new response.
With so many people now staying at home, good books are more essential than ever. Southern independent booksellers have selected thirteen titles for their 2020 Spring Okra Picks, their seasonal list of great forthcoming Southern books. The Spring Okra Picks publish in April, May, and June and feature southern voices, southern stories, and southern writers. Each and every one of them also has a cadre of southern bookseller champions, eager to share their enthusiasm with other readers.
Cavalier House Books co-owner and SIBA Board member John Cavalier presents "Tips for Managing an Unexpected Crisis," focusing on business strategies during COVID-19. During a time of crisis, it's vital to put a plan in place, as a thoughtful response can mean the difference between persevering and closing up shop. John talks generally and specifically about how you can work with your staff and community to craft a plan that will help you achieve your goals. He also provides a list of concrete steps you can take to build resiliency for your store's future and daily operations.
Read This! Resources for your store from Authors Round the South
What a strange time for booksellers: as customers have never been more eager to read, it's increasingly challenging to get books into their socially-distanced hands. Authors 'Round the South (ARTS) wants to help. ARTS has a wealth of engaging, reader-focused, bookseller-friendly content and we are working hard on ways to make it more accessible, useful, and shareable for your store. And oh yeah, it's all free.
We're most excited about our treasure-trove of SIBA member bookseller reviews and recommendations. Have you wondered exactly what happens to the reviews and recommendations your store submits via Edelweiss? In addition to being regularly featured in the SIBA newsletter and blog, SIBA's reader-focused site Authors 'Round the South (ARTS) also runs store reviews on or near the publication date of the book.
The newest reviews appear on the ARTS home page and on the main Read This! page, but even better, every single review is tagged and sorted into the ARTS bookseller review database, making each review accessible not just at publication but for the future. At present, there are hundreds and hundreds of books (actually 985, and counting--by the time you read this we will be closing in on 1000!) in the review database. Each review links directly to the reviewer's store's online retail (if available) and regardless of whether a store has ecommerce, the review links to the reviewer store's website.
SIBA wants to make ARTS even more of a resource for our members and their customers. Your store is welcome and encouraged to make use of any and all existing and future ARTS content (you don't need to ask permission) in any way you think might be helpful.
We have expanded the number of reviews featured on the home page, and are updating it much more frequently. Our goal is to feature as many as we possibly can. Individual reviews can be linked to and shared.
The Read This! database is now featured directly on the home page as well as on the main Read This page. Every category can be linked to and/or shared directly via social media or email.
We make an effort to feature as many SIBA stores as possible, and as mentioned above, ARTS does not limit the featured reviews to stores with ecommerce.
Pushing Our Limits: Givens Books and Little Dickens on Bookselling Under COVID-19
Like most retail during this difficult period, we've been pushed to our limits trying to find creative and undiscovered methods of reaching our customers and doing business. Unprecedented and unimaginably challenging times have brought new levels of anxiety. One small byproduct of this for us has been innovation.
Our goal is to support our customers at home while maintaining their sense of connection with being in our store...the ambiance, warmth, staff friendliness, and overall positive experience.
We are amplifying the "support your community" message with banners along with curbside pick-up services and regular posts on Facebook and Instagram.
Personal thank you notes are dropped into each curbside bag we hand to our customers.
We got in some ride-on toys and we promptly made a post with me racing on this unicorn against another employee with derby music in the background. It was a big hit and brought laughter and smiles.
Our approach through all of this is to connect with the community and customer frequently and with a lightness which people need after a lot of dismal news. We are getting more likes and shares than we ever have with many of these posts. But, we're also promoting the message of staying safe, practicing physical distancing, all while pushing hard our curbside pick up service and web ordering.
Read more about SIBA's Circle of Sites Program (aka the "banner for dues" program) and find out whether your store is eligible to participate and receive free membership dues.
In Brief: April Lady Banks Bookshelf
SIBA promotes six new books every month to readers, the customers of our member stores, in our Lady Banks Bookshelf promotion.These titles appear at the top of our weekly Lady Banks Commonplace Book newsletter, which has a circulation of over 60k. We also feature them above the fold on the homepage of Authors 'Round the South and as the cover image of the ARTS facebook page, with buy links promoted to our 15,000 Facebook friends. Plus, we boost these titles on our Facebook page for thousands more views. A different member store is featured with the titles every week.
For publishers looking to promote their new titles out to readers across the South, Lady Banks Bookshelf is our greatest value because of high visibility and engagement across multiple platforms. To support the efforts of publishers launching books during this challenging time, we're offering this, and all of our other promotions (except the RAMP holiday catalog) for half-price.Contact us for more information or to get your titles on "The Shelf" in coming months.
The ABA's resource page is the absolute best source of information for booksellers and is constantly updated. Pay special attention to CEO Allison Hill's updates, now archived here. If you aren't an ABA member, we highly encourage you join (ask about their dues relief plan during the crisis).
Use an expense line item called COVID-19 in your operation and dump all extraordinary expenses in there--not just supplies, but also time (safety meetings). You may need it for relief programs from the government and it will help you and your financial support staff understand these unexpected costs down the road.
Continue to message your customers with COVID-19 sensitive promotions on all your newsletters and platforms. Keep them informed and act as a consoling and thoughtful community leader who understand the importance of safety, but wants to supply books during the quarantine, directing them to online sales platforms.
1. The Mirror & the Light Hilary Mantel, Holt, $30, 9780805096606 2. The Glass Hotel Emily St.John Mandel, Knopf, $26.95, 9780525521143 3. The Night Watchman Louise Erdrich, Harper, $28.99, 9780062671189 4. The Dutch House Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062963673 5. The City We Became N.K. Jemisin, Orbit, $28, 9780316509848
1. The Splendid and the Vile Erik Larson, Crown, $32, 9780385348713 2. Untamed Glennon Doyle, The Dial Press, $28, 9781984801258 3. Educated Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504 4. Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown Anne Glenconner, Hachette Books, $28, 9780306846366 5. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone Lori Gottlieb, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328662057
SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
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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.