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The ABACUS survey is currently live. Booksellers have until July 21, 2024 to submit their responses.




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-20 Report CoverABACUS 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.

This ABACUS reporting cycle will cover 2023 financial results, providing participating stores with useful data, an overview of an economy impacted by COVID-19, and  informative graphs.

Much of the information needed to fill out the survey will come from a store’s income statement and balance sheet, and a year end z report from point of sale system, and all data shared through the ABACUS survey is confidential. The time is now to complete the survey. It doesn’t have to be done all at once, the survey can be saved in progress and returned to at any time.

Participating stores will receive:

  • Industry-wide reports for 2023, including an executive summary, detailed survey results, and multi-year trend comparison tables,

  • Individual company performance reports — confidential, individualized reports shown alongside appropriate industry comparatives (for instance, net sales and profitability, etc) that give stores an easy way to interpret their ABACUS results and provide actionable feedback on the success and/or improvement areas for each respondent.

  • Access to interactive online report-generating tools

  • Excel data tables of the aggregated ABACUS results for 2022, to which stores can add their data for analysis.

  • And, if we have enough participation to ensure a good sample, a regional report to show how your store’s financials compare with others in your region. 

Introduction to ABACUS


Resources for Filling Out the 2023 ABACUS Survey


Using the ABACUS Report


For more information about ABACUS, check out the members-only materials on the ABA Education Resources 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.

Questions about ABACUS? Email ABA Chief Financial Officer, PK Sindwani.



"As Peter Drucker famously said, "If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it." In the case of running a bookstore, even when you measure it, it’s not enough. Being able to compare your financials to industry averages allows you to utilize your data in a more meaningful way. When I was a bookseller, the release of the ABACUS survey results was an opportunity for me to carve out some time to dig into my store’s financials, compare them to industry averages, and reveal areas of our business that needed a closer look. ABACUS became part of my financial review and provided critical data for my strategic planning."
—Allison Hill, ABA CEO


"The information we receive from ABACUS has always been helpful and interesting, especially when we are looking at possible changes to our stores, involving inventory, location, staffing and other challenges. The ABACUS survey gives us an opportunity to look closely at the financial health of our own bookstores, while keeping an eye on the industry at large."
—Glenda Childs, Owner, Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops


"ABACUS not only helps me run my business better — I share it with my bookkeeper, landlord, and staff — but it also allows ABA to illustrate to our industry partners the economic realities of indie bookstore operations, and helps everyone work on how to reduce our costs and sell more books all around."
— Jamie Fiocco, Former ABA President, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina


"Eight years ago when I was looking into buying my store, ABACUS was an essential tool in my decision-making. I was able to compare the store's numbers to the industry averages. Having this information gave me the confidence I needed to take this literal life-changing step of becoming a bookstore owner. Since then, I continue to turn to ABACUS every year (and often throughout the year) to provide myself with a clear snapshot of my store's financial position, especially as it relates to other successful bookstores. The time invested in filling out the ABACUS survey is worth every second — and it's really not that hard! It is time well-spent both for your own store as well as helping other stores to evaluate their positions. Do it in the spirit of collegiality!"
— Susan Hans O'Connor, Owner, Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pennsylvania


"I've been completing the ABACUS survey and using the results every year since I bought Red Balloon in 2011. It is such an important planning tool for me, and now that the results are coming back earlier, it is even more helpful. These numbers give me more perspective on how our bookstore is doing and helps our bookstore set financial goals for the coming year. Thank you, ABA, for doing this survey every year!"
— Holly Weinkauf, the Red Balloon


Completing the ABACUS reporting is one of those rare tasks that pays off over and over again. The reporting is robust and flexible. I find myself looking at different aspects of the business throughout the year, and I use ABACUS to see how we compare to our peers and to help my leadership team understand what we need to improve upon.
— Melissa DeMotte, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from ABACUS. It allows us to look at financial and operational benchmarks set by our colleagues around the country, look at our own performance, and ask, ‘Why is this different?’ I can say with confidence that we’re a much healthier store today than we would be without ABACUS.
— Andy Perham, Books Inc., San Francisco, California


We have found the data from ABACUS to be very helpful in planning and budgeting for the upcoming year. Importantly, it can give us some insight into areas we should investigate for further growth or cost savings. Submitting to the survey has gotten easier over the years -- I think this might have been the easiest one yet.
— Jenny Cohen and Muir Cohen, Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, Oregon

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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