ABA Turns to Web to Stop Declining Sales

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The American Booksellers Association is hoping its $4-million integrated marketing campaign will be enough to reclaim the market share its independent bookseller members lost to national chains and online retailers last year.


The centerpiece is an e-commerce Web site (www.booksense.com) set to launch in August. In addition to selling books on the site, booksense.com will offer links to the sites of participating members. The ABA will charge booksellers a one-time setup fee of $500, a monthly fee of $200 template and a 4.5 percent commission on sales to cover operating costs. The bookseller closest to the customer's ZIP code will fulfill orders placed on booksense.com.


Earlier this month the ABA launched a print and television ad campaign and a toll-free number providing consumers with the location of the nearest participating member. In July, the ABA will introduce a national gift certificate program.


According to the ABA, independent booksellers accounted for 16.6 percent of book sales last year, down from 25 percent five years earlier. National chains grabbed 25.3 percent of sales last year, said the ABA, while the Web accounted for 2 percent. The Boston Consulting Group forecasts that Web sales will grow to 30 percent within five years.
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