Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NAIBA Wants To Be Frontline Of Sales Force

Things are happening faster than I can post about them. I'll have to save some items for other days.

One interesting announcement. Tuesday's Shelf Awareness reported that the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) announced that they are going to "change the focus of their annual convention and trade show from 'soliciting orders to selling better what booksellers have already acquired.'"

Monday's Publishers Weekly quoted the NAIBA Executive Director Eileen Dengler: "We want publishers to view booksellers as part of their sales team . . . We're telling publishers that the reason they're [at the show] is to take selected books and to tell booksellers how to sell them, why to sell them and every piece of information they need to know."

At a time when independent booksellers are going out of business at an alarming rate and large bookchains are being squeezed by discounters like Wal-Mart and Target, this dramatic shift in focus makes good sense. NAIBA is trying to position itself as an extension of the publishers' sales force. Handselling books works. The big box retailers may offer books at deep discounts, but they don't have staff pushing those sales.

This is a great example of adaptation. More than once on this blog, I've posed the question as to what the future of brick and mortar bookstores will be in the digital age. If booksellers can transform themselves into the "frontline of a publishers' sales force" as the new NAIBA board president Joe Drabyak told Publishers Weekly, they can solidify a viable place for themselves in the digital world.

The timing of the announcement is somewhat ironic, coming as it does right after Random House announced the layoff of part of their sales force.

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