SIBA takes a leap of faith and introduces the "Circle of Sites"

SIBA believes in its booksellers and takes a leap of faith

(Columbia, SC)—In order to demonstrate the collective clout of independent bookstores and booksellers in the South, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) has taken an unprecedented, and daring, step. In a new policy just announced to its members this week, SIBA has offered to forgo collecting membership dues from its stores for the upcoming year if the stores in turn will allow SIBA to place a single banner ad on their store websites.  The ad, whose content will be sold by and controlled by the organization, will appear simultaneously on every participating SIBA store site for the duration it is booked—giving it extensive regional exposure.

“We are always looking for ways to show the impact and clout our stores have on the market,” said SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell, who says she envisioned a “circle” of store websites collectively promoting the same title, at the same time, to their customers—something she is confident will both help boost sales of the book and raise the visibility of the stores with publishers.

“Of course, waiving the dues for stores that participate is a real carrot,” said Jewell, who acknowledges that the economy remains a challenge to SIBA’s member stores and that they need to find ways to cut expenses. “We’re happy we’ve found a way to help, and can still give stores access to all the many benefits of being a member of SIBA.” she said.

But forgiving dues for participating stores is not without its own repercussions for the organization. SIBA relies on income from membership dues and is therefore betting that revenue generated from the ad space on store sites will make up what would have been collected in dues.  Jewell says she is confident that will happen—so confident that she regards the collective advertising model as an entirely new way for trade organizations like SIBA to operate.

According to Jewell, the response from stores so far has been “very enthusiastic.” Within hours of announcing the program more than twenty stores had signed up, included such high-profile booksellers as Books & Books in Miami, Florida, Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama, and The Regulator in Durham, North Carolina.

The current list of participating stores includes the following (and more are added daily):

A Novel Experience - Zebulon, GA
As the Page Turns - Greenville, SC
Author Squad – Huntersville, NC
Bay Books – Bay St. Louis, MS
Bayou Books - Gretna, LA
Beauty and the Book – Jefferson, TX
Blue Elephant Bookshop - Decatur, GA
Book and Cranny – Statesboro, GA
Bookin it! – Belmont, NC
Books & Books  - Coral Gable, FL
Book Swap of Carrollwood – Tampa, FL
Bound to be read– Atlanta, GA
Burry Bookstore - Easley, SC
Capitol Books & News – Montgomery, AL
Chapters Bookshop – Galax, VA
City Lights - Sylva, NC
Deb's Bookstore – Cullman, AL
Dee Gees - Morehead City, NC
Eagle Eye Books – Atlanta, GA
Family Bookshop – DeLand, FL
Fiction Addiction - Greenville, SC
Fireside Books and Gifts – Forest City, NC
Flyleaf Books – Chapel Hill, NC
Hall Book Exchange – Gainesville, GA
Island Bookstore - Duck, NC
Literary Book Post - Salisbury, NC
Lorelei Books - Vicksburg, MS
Malaprops Bookstore & Cafe - Asheville, NC
Orchard House Books - Smithfield, NC
Pablo's on Market - Athens, AL
Page & Palette – Fairhope, AL
Page After Page – Elizabeth City, NC
Phillips & Lloyd - Hayesville, NC
Quartermoon Books - Topsail Island, NC
Regulator – Durham, NC
Retro Cinema & Books – Washington, GA
Simple Pleasures Books & Gifts – Ashland, VA
Spellbound Books - Asheville, NC
Sundial Books - Chicoteague Island, VA
Swift Books – Orangeburg, SC
That Bookstore in Blytheville – Blytheville, AR
The Bookstore – Huntsville, AL
Two Sisters Bookery – Wilmington, NC
Words Bookstore – Hardy, AR
Yawn's Books - Canton, GA

The SIBA Bookstore Banner Program is not the first time the organization has experimented with collective advertising. Earlier this year SIBA, in cooperation with the eight other regional booksellers associations, implemented a banner ad program that appears on each of the nine associations’ websites.  But that program is targeted towards industry, where as the Bookstore Banner Program is designed to reach directly into the consumer market.

“It’s a much more ambitious undertaking,” said Nicki Leone, SIBA’s Web site administrator. “We’re coordinating dozens of sites with a weekly rotating series of banners.” Over the next few weeks, SIBA will be concentrating on helping its stores to add the special banner links to their Web sites and testing the delivery system. The Circle of Sites banner ad has already begun to appear on some store sites.

Leone added that SIBA will also be working with bookstores so they know the schedule of upcoming ads, and providing statistical information to publishers so they can evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

The SIBA Bookstore Banner Program will go live on January 1st. SIBA has designed a creative pricing model that will be attractive to publishers.