ABA Education for Booksellers

  • What if transforming the indie bookselling industry

    is as simple as A, B, C?
    If every bookstore took these three actions, we could reshape our collective future.
  • Videos from Children's Insititute 2024
    are now available!
  • Bookseller Lightning Talks
    Next Meeting: Thursday, August 8 at 3pm ET
    Writing Compelling Shelf-Talkers with Danielle King (Left Bank Books)
    Blue Dot in a Red State with Lyn Ciurro (Bound to Happen Books)
    Subscription Programs with Courtney Ulrich Smith (Underbrush Books)
  • Next Meeting:
    Wednesday, July 17 at 3pm ET

Upcoming Events

  • Fall Regional Trade Shows
    August through October 2024
  • Banned Books Week
    September 22-28, 2024
  • Indies First
    November 30, 2024
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Contemporary bookselling requires advanced strategic thinking, a keen sense of customer behavior, strong financial literacy, proficiency in ecommerce, digital media analytics, personnel development, community outreach, and, above all, a passion for the written word. As a core component of the ABA's Ends Policies, the ABA offers a wide range of resources as an exclusive benefit for members of the ABA. Designed with the professional bookseller in mind, these resources include tailored educational sessions and events, customizable forms and documents, financial benchmarks and tools, and educational meetups.  From bookselling fundamentals to digital challenges, ABA Education equips bookstores with the necessary tools to achieve profitability, differentiate themselves from their competitors, and remain relevant and innovative in the ever-evolving industry.


Education Conferences

ABA hosts two national education conferences per year. 

  • Winter Institute: ABA's premiere four-day annual industry conference featuring educational programming for independent bookstores, as well as keynote talks, author receptions, publisher parties, and dedicated time to network with booksellers, authors, and publishers from around the country. As the largest gathering of bookselling professionals in the US, Winter Institute attracts over 900 booksellers, along with hundreds of authors, publishing professionals, international booksellers, and industry partners. The 20th annual Winter Institute (Wi2025) will take place in Denver, Colorado from February 23 to 26, 2025. 
  • Children's Institute: A three-day event offering unique education for children’s booksellers in addition to general education sessions, roundtable discussions, networking events, and author appearances. The 12th annual Children's Institute (Ci2024) took place in New Orleans, LA from June 10 to 12, 2024.

In addition to ABA's national conference education, ABA presents specially-designed education at the annual Regional Indie Bookseller Associations Tradeshows.

  • Fall 2023This is a Fire Drill: Preparing for and Avoiding Crises: Join ABA staff at the Fall Regional Tradeshows as we review some of the top crises stores have experienced this past year. From cybersecurity threats to a car driving into the store, we will provide resources and tips to prepare for and, when possible, avoid these crises at your store. Topics will include: fire, flood, and natural disasters; protesters, break-ins, and ransomware, credit card fraud, and more. Throughout the session, we’ll explore ways to respond to these crises, prioritize employee communication, and mitigate the risk of these events occurring at your store. Think of this session as insurance and take this time to invest in protecting your business.
  • Fall 2022Decoding the P&L for Booksellers, Managers, and Owners: A bookstore’s profit and loss statement (P&L) is a critical tool for evaluating a store’s overall performance. Join ABA staff on a walk-through of a bookstore P&L statement as we lay a groundwork for understanding bookstore financials, decode individual line items to identify opportunities for improved profitability, discuss how to use ABA’s ABACUS Report, and consider ways to share financials with staff in a meaningful and cooperative manner.


On Demand Education Sessions

Browse our collection of education sessions recorded virtually and at ABA Institutes, including:


Bookstore Resource Library

The Bookstore Resource Library is a collection of customizable templates and resources specifically designed for bookstores. From Consignment Applications to Daily Checklists, we’ve collected essential bookstore forms and documents that you can edit to meet the particular needs of your store, along with toolkits on everything from Advocacy to ABACUS.


Virtual Meetups

Virtual meetups are an opportunity to network and learn from fellow booksellers on a range of topics relevant to bookselling today. View upcoming virtual meetups here.

  • Book Biz Book Club: Join fellow booksellers to discuss selected business books, ranging from retail strategy and customer engagement, to time management and workplace dynamics. The Book Biz Book Club meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 3:00 pm ET. Register here.
  • Bookseller Lightning Talks: ABA's Bookseller Lightning Talks series features booksellers presenting 5-10 minute talks on tech tools, organizational strategies, communication methods, or innovations they’ve made in their stores. Each presentation will be followed by time for Q&A and discussion. Lightning Talks take place on the second Thursday of every month at 3:00 pm ET. Register here.
  • ShopTalks: Open conversation format to share best practices, talk about business, and crowdsource ideas & solutions to problems. ShopTalks are held bimonthly on Tuesdays. Dedicated ABA Children's Group ShopTalks meet quarterly.
  • New Member Series: The three-part New Member Series runs quarterly, with meetups dedicated to Intro to ABA Benefits, Store Ownership 101, and Business Services.
  • ABA Board Office Hours & ABA Open Houses: These forums offer an opportunity for booksellers and bookstore owners to talk directly with ABA board members and ABA staff to ask questions, share concerns or experiences, and/or express their needs for support.
  • Affinity Groups: ABA has created Affinity Groups to allow members an opportunity to gather for connection, support, community, resources, networking, etc. ABA is not present during these sessions and the discussion topics are completely up to those in attendance. These closed sessions are available only for those individuals who identify as members. Ally support is greatly appreciated while attendance is not.


BookED: ABA's Bookstore Education Podcast

Tune in to audio recordings from past ABA education sessions! New episodes will be added each week, so be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast app for updates when a new episode drops. 

Apple Podcasts

Spotify OvercastPocket CastsPodcast Website


ABACUS Financial Benchmarking Report

As bookstores rethink strategies and operations in a post-COVID world, the insight from the ABACUS financial survey showing how your store compares with others — whether in terms of key expense categories or sales performance — has never been more important.
ABACUS is a free annual report filled with detailed information highlighting how your store compares to other stores in a range of areas, including profitability, productivity, and financial management. Using the ABACUS report is like adding a financial officer to your staff; it clearly highlights areas that need improving and areas in which your store is succeeding.
For more information about ABACUS, check out the members-only materials on the ABA On Demand Education Sessions page (under "filter results by tags," select "ABACUS") or access the past five years reports. A Chart of Accounts with references to ABACUS line item data can be found in the Bookstore Resource Library.


Opening a Bookstore

Bookselling is a wonderful and fulfilling profession. Owning your own store may seem a natural and attractive idea if you love books; however, passion and knowledge have to be combined with business acumen if your bookstore is to succeed. Like any other retail business, you will have to meet the cost of rent, utilities, compensation, and payments to your vendors, all while striving to make your bookstore profitable. It's not always easy, but ABA and our community of booksellers and industry professionals are here to help you each step of the way. Our Opening a Bookstore Tool Kit includes information on Provisional ABA Membership, Prospective Booksellers School, and developing your business plan.


Submit Your Ideas!

ABA Education strives to meet the needs of ABA Member Bookstores through peer-driven and expert-led conference and virtual programming. In order to serve the diverse needs of our membership, we actively welcome all ideas for future education programming, panelists, and speakers for ABA Conferences and virtual programming. As an industry trade organization, we rely on the generosity and expertise of individual booksellers to provide peer-to-peer professional development and operational support with the bookselling community at large. Submit your ideas and suggestions for forthcoming education through this form or reach out to the ABA Education Team directly at [email protected].


About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


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