Meg Zelickson Smith , Chief Marketing Officer of the ABA, spoke to the NCBPMA about the newly launched Indiebound program. Indiebound is an important tool for independent bookstores, as it enables them to effectively compete in today’s marketplace. Launched at BEA, Indiebound is essentially the new Booksense, it’s re-branded to reflect what independent bookstores all about. The term, “independent” means, “shop local, sustainability, community, value” which are issues that resonate strongly with consumers, especially in this failing economy. In fact many of the chain stores are closing, approximately 5700 thus far this year. It’s a good time to take advantage of being independent and to start a movement that booksellers and publishers can be a part of it.
For example, publishers can contribute galleys, books, and other promotional items to the big red box (similar to the white box) and shelf talkers (small pieces of paper on shelf that people can tear off to alert them of forthcoming products). Down the line, publishers may be able to pay for table top displays in conjunction with Indiebound.
The next list (formerly the Booksense reads) are books nominated by ABA booksellers (but publishers can recommend titles for this in the red box) and the weekly bestseller lists are included in brochures which are sent out to bookstores for them to put out. Also, bookstores receive posters, i.e. “Eat, Sleep, Read” and “Peace, Love, Books”, cards that promote Indiebound, stands, booklets, t-shirts, bookmarks with reinforcing messages like “We live Indiebound”.
All of these items help to identify them as local, independent business. The reaction so far to Indiebound is 95% positive. Many people also like the new logo which is reminiscent of a butterfly and symbolizes energy.
Ken White from SFSU Bookstore really likes the new Indiebound, and his customers do too. Other bookstores are enthusiastic as well. For example, one store was on the brink of closing and Indiebound changed their mind. Bookpeople in Austin made banners to promote the new program and a group of young booksellers have come together to help further promote Indiebound, they’re called “indiebounders.”
Other independent stores (non-bookstores) in communities are responding positively too. Everyone wants to encourage consumers to shop locally, as this is good for the economy. In Mizzoula, MT, one bookstore owner created Indiebound posters for 10 local businesses in the same block, thus branding it an Indiebound block. Consequently, Indiebound.org can be hub for many independent businesses, not just bookstores.
All publishers are encouraged to log onto the website and sign declaration of Indiebound, download banners to their websites, encourage their authors to link to indiebound.org (affiliate program), and create a video to post to youtube.com. Other things that will promote Indiebound in the near future is a community page on the website and a blog where celebrity bloggers can participate. Indiebound already has pages on the social networking sites, My Space and Facebook.
— Marina Cook