The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is the largest organization of independent booksellers in the South, and one of the largest trade organizations of its kind in the country. The benefits and services available to members of SIBA have all been carefully evaluated to ensure that it fulfills two goals: 1) that the program or service will help SIBA’s core bookstore members become better, more profitable businesses, and 2) that the program or service will help them sell more books and raise their visibility in their communities.
The beauty of independent bookstores is that they are independent. SIBA recognizes that every store faces its own challenges and has its own needs. Some stores are looking for ways to increase their visibility in their community. Some stores would like help minimizing expenses. Some are looking for authors and event opportunities, while others would like information on coop. SIBA's wide range of benefits offers something for every store, no matter how large or small, no matter how different their priorities.
SIBA Helps You Sell More Books!
Marketing Programs for SIBA Members
SIBA’s marketing initiatives are designed to extend the shelf life of favorite Southern books, allowing bookstores to sell more copies over a longer period. SIBA provides bookstores with professional-quality materials and a comprehensive publicity campaign to generate word-of-mouth buzz among the media, the book industry, and among readers.
- Southern Indie Bestseller List
SIBA works with the American Booksellers Association and Indiebound to generate a weekly list of bestsellers specific to the South.The Southern Indie Bestseller List is distributed to all SIBA members, promoted to the region’s newspapers and media, and archived on SIBA’s websites. The Southern Indie Bestseller listis printed in dozens of newspapers and is carefully watched by publishers, who love to see their books climb up the lists. More regionally distinctive than national bestseller lists, the Southern Indie Bestseller List is used by SIBA stores for displays and promotions.
- SIBA Book Award
Each year, hundreds of booksellers across the South vote on their favorite “hand-sell” books of the year. These are the “southern” books they have most enjoyed selling to customers; the ones that they couldn’t stop talking about. The SIBA Book Award was created to recognize great books of southern origin. The winning books are promoted to the media, included in the SIBA-produced holiday gift catalog,and featured on SIBA’s websites and blogs. SIBA also produces in-store signage for its booksellers to use in displays. All nominations must come via a SIBA bookseller—making the SIBA Book Award a true “readers’ choice” award and one of the most well-known awards for Southern literature . Books are nominated in several categories, including fiction, nonfiction,poetry, cooking, young adult, and children’s. For a book to be eligible, it must be set in the South and/or the author must be Southern (preferably both!). It must have been published within the previous calendar year.
- Holiday Gift Catalog
SIBA coordinates with publishers to produce a consumer gift catalog for its members so that they can make the most of the fall holiday shopping season. These catalogs are professionally designed, full-color, and feature titles of regional interest. Catalogs are imprinted with your store logo so they appear to come directly from your shop. They are absolutely free in any amount to SIBA members. Every catalog promotes the winners of the SIBA Book Award and as well as titles specifically requested by SIBA bookstores. Approximately 1.5 million catalogs are distributed to shoppers each fall holiday season.
Getting the most out of SIBA
One of SIBA’s primary goals is to help its members becomes better, more profitable businesses. To that end, SIBA sponsors a number of educational sessions for its members throughout the year, making an effort to bring at least one such opportunity to each part of its territory every year. Topics vary based on requests from members and availability of speakers. Most of SIBA’s educational programming is hosted free of charge for its core bookstore members.
- SIBA Trade Show
The trade show is SIBA’s major event of the year. Hundreds of companies exhibit books,sidelines, and other items of interest to booksellers under one roof for one weekend. Aside from the opportunity to meet with publishers and authors and learn about upcoming new books, SIBA produces two full days of educational sessions solely targeted to bookstores. Friday features a day-long schedule of sessions on a variety of topics geared towards everyone from the beginner bookseller to the seasoned veterans in the business. Topics are designed based on member input and requests, and produced in cooperation withthe American Booksellers Association. SIBA also facilitates one-on-one meetings between booksellers and industry professionals who can help with specific problems or concerns.
- Spring Book Show
The Spring Book Show is a Remainder book fair held annually in March in Atlanta, the most centrally located large city in SIBA territory. SIBA works with the Spring Book Show organizers to provides bookseller education at the show for attendees. SIBA stores gain valuable information about the remainder product category, as well as a chance to attend seminars and panels they may not have a chance to see at other times of the year.
The Revivals are SIBA’s way of taking the SIBA trade show on the road. 4-6 times a year, usually in the Spring, SIBA hosts a get-together at member bookstores throughout the south. These “Revivals” last about four hours, and are usually devoted to one topic—“getting authors for events” for example, or “effective publicity”. Lunch is provided by SIBA and often an author comes for the meal to talk about books. Time is also made for booksellers to exchange ideas and information among each other.
Any store can host a revival. Bookstores often use revivals not only to share information and their own expertise, but to get feedback on their own store layout and programs.
Independent Bookselling in the Information Age
SIBA understands that the Internet isn’t just for people who separated geographically to connect in one “place” according to specific interests. Nor is it simply a giant shopping mall. It can also bring together geographically contained communities like neighborhoods and towns. Bookstores, while eager to adapt and embrace new technologies, often do not possess the skills or resources to make the most of the Internet’s potential. So SIBA has developed a series of tools and applications to help its members make the best use of the Internet for their businesses— both by providing simple and inexpensive tools like website directory pages, online discussion forums and free blog hosting services—and by working actively to promote its members on are various high profile sites like MySpace, Library Thing, etc. In addition, SIBA hosts its own online literary sites, integrating its own marketing and advertising programs with the promotion of its independent bookstores members.
- Authors ‘Round the South
SIBA created Authors Round the South--ARTS—to be the site to find your favoritewriters at your favorite bookstores. With the participation of bookstores The ARTS calendaris the most complete collection of book signings, author appearences, book festivals and literary events associated with independent bookstores. ARTS is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, an organization of over 300 independent booksellers across the South, from Florida to Kentucky to Virginia. Authorsroundthesouth.com carries southern literary news, book recomendations by SIBA booksellers, an archive of the Southern Indie Bestseller List, back issues of Lady Banks’ Commonplace book, as well as author news and interviews, links to bookseller blogs and other sites of interest to people who love Southern literature.
- Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book
Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book is a newsletter for people interested in Southern literature, sponsored by booksellers who are members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA).
“Lady Banks,” of course, is the name common name of a climbing rose (Rosa banksaie) that is ubiquitous throughout the South. Commonplace books first appeared during the Renaissance, where they were used as a way to deal the information overload of that era. Th eyhelped students select and organize tidbits of interest--medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers and students, and each commonplace book was unique to its owner. SIBA publishes the Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book email newsletter once a month. It is a compendium of information found on the Authors ‘Round the South website, including book events, author interviews, literary news and “gossip” as narrated by her ladyship, the editor.
- Other Online Services: Listserv, Websites, & Blogs
SIBA runs an online discussion group on Yahoo! for members to exchange information and seek advice. The organization will also provide a free simple website to its members and host free blogs for any interested bookseller. See more detailed information under “Business Services for SIBA members.”
SIBA Puts You In Touch with Your Peers
Building a Community of Booksellers
SIBA is dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to network and share information. It does this via its programming—giving space for SIBA members to convene during trade shows and workshops,and in its regular communications with its membership and the book industry at large. SIBA also hosts a variety of forums where booksellers can communicate directly with each other.
- SIBA Ink! Newsletter
SIBA Ink! is the organization’s bimonthly toolkit and serves as a marketing piece for bookstores on a variety of topics.
- SIBAmembers Yahoo Group
Have a question that needs a fast answer? Want to catch up on industry gossip? Or maybe just rave a little bit about the book you are reading? The SIBA Listserv is the place to do all that and more. SIBA’s ongoing discussion group, hosted by Yahoo!, is an online forum for booksellers and industry professionals to meet, exchange news and ideas. SIBA membership is not required to join in the conversations,but the group is carefully moderated to keep the discussions on topic and of interest to booksellers.
- SIBA member Blogs
SIBA provides free blog space to any member bookstore who wishes one, and promotes member blog posts to the southern literary community at large. Members use blogs as a way to keep in touch with their customers as well as each other, using blog space as a kind of continuous “hand-sell” opportunity to talk to readers. SIBA promotes all its hosted blogs on its consumer website authorsroundthesouth.com, as well as in the Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book newsletter.
SIBA Saves You Time and Money
Business Services for SIBA Members
As a trade organization SIBA uses its collective bargaining power on behalf of its members to negotiate for special terms with other businesses and service providers to give SIBA members special and competitive rates. Members can take part in these special offers as they see fit. SIBA also uses its resources to provide some basic business services it has identified as being of use to its members.Simple websites and online networking, facilitating the sharing of resources, acting as an archive of useful business forms and letters…the organization works hard to help its members become more efficient businesses without having to reinvent the wheel.
Shipping Program from Freight Management Systems
SIBA has partnered with Freight Management Systems to offer to members in good standing discounted shipping rates. The program offers international shipments and volume shipment significant discounts with many major carriers, including ABF, American Freightways, Central Transport, Clipper, Old Dominion, Overnite Transport, SAIA, Roadway and Wilson. Discounts are also available for Canadian/Mexican Shipments (With select carriers) and international shipments and volume shipments will be quoted on a flat rate basis. Shipments (150 Ibs. or more) may qualify for the UPS less-than-pallet-load (LPL) program through Freight Management Systems. Full details are on the SIBA website at www.sibaweb.com.
Customer Loyalty Program from Capture Systems
Capture Systems Customer Loyalty Program and Credit Card Processing Service can reduce your credit card processing fees with special SIBA member pricing. It is six times more expensive to obtain a new customer than it is to retain one. Capture Systems is working with SIBA to offer members a true benefit through their association. Capture provides programs designed to increase average tickets, drive margins higher and produce greater profits. Capture Systems offers the ability to not only track spending of your customers but also reward the for purchases, all through the existing expense of credit card processing. Imagine being able to send a customer a happy birthday email or reward them for buying books all year with a gift card. It is all possible with Capture’s loyalty programs. Capture is also helping SIBA members reduce their costs with National Account Pricing on credit card processing and will conduct a free analysis for SIBA members.Capture was founded to bridge the gap between the capabilities and the commitments of large service providers and the reality of what is delivered. Capture’s strength lies in its relationships with associations created in order to better serve their members. To learn more about Capture Systems and our SIBA loyalty and processing program, please call (800) 5370338 ext. 305. Full details are on the SIBA website at www.sibaweb.com.
The Document Library
On the theory that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, SIBA created The Document Library as an archive of useful forms and papers for its members. The Document Library contains dozens of sample forms, letters, signs and templates free for use in your store. Most of the available documents were submitted by fellow SIBA booksellers, who have field-tested them in their own business operations. Others are handouts from some of SIBA’s many educational seminars. Every file is available for members to alter to fit the needs of their own store. Files are copyright-free and include such things as coop claim forms, policy letters for self-published authors, forms for tracking book club members and orders, personnel time sheets, book marks, shelf talkers, and other kinds of store signage. There are even budget spreadsheets which can be adapted to the needs of your store.
Documents are all in MSWord, PDF, or Excel formats, and specific documents can be converted to other formats on request.