Great Catalog Idea

Josie Leavitt - August 13, 2014

Every bookstore strives to create unique newsletters and catalogs, and oftentimes we are successful. But there are times when we could use a little help. This is where the ABC Children’s Group sponsored by the American Bookselling Association, comes in. Every year they create a full-color catalog for all member stores to use for the whole year. The catalog, Best Books for Children and Teens, features titles vetted by members, so it’s not about publishers paying for advertising, this is a catalog of books we all feel strongly about recommending in our stores.

Printing up a 20-page, full-color newsletter would cost a store a small fortune. Many stores have shifted away from print newsletters because of the expense, opting instead for e-newsletters, which are obviously cheaper, but customers do like to have something tangible. I remember customers coming in with our old newsletters with books circled in different color pens (each family member had a chosen color and would mark up the books they liked) for easy shopping during the holidays. The real beauty of this catalog is the cost to ABC members. Every member store gets 250 copies, free, just by being members of the ABC group. If members want more copies, they are available in units of 500 for $25. The cost for getting the catalogs imprinted with store information is only $75. Stores can the choose to mail these out to customers, or place them as inserts in their local papers and help drive business to their stores by offering something unique. I cannot stress again just how inexpensive this is: something like this would cost upwards of $1,500 for 500 if a local printer did it. And often, getting just 500 of something would cost far more because the costs go down the more you print.
To have such a well-done catalog with books that are fabulous for so little expense is a great reason to join the ABC Group. For children’s only stores, or stores with very strong children’s departments, this catalog makes a lot of sense. It highlights excellent books -– books that most stores are likely to carry. While the holiday catalogs done by the regional trade associations are wonderful in their own right, sometimes they include titles a store wouldn’t normally carry, but needs to bring in so customers aren’t disappointed when they come in looking for them. Oh, and the last brilliant thing the Best Books for Children and Teens catalog does is to not have anything that dates it as a holiday catalog, so stores can use it well past the fourth quarter.
Being able to give a catalog to all customers with a purchase is just another way to stay in their minds when it comes to holiday shopping or any gift-giving event. Schools love this catalog and it’s very handy to give away imprinted catalogs at teacher nights. Anything an independent bookstore can do to help distinguish itself from big box store or Amazon by having a personal touch can only be a good thing. And when something costs this little and is so well done, stores would be foolish to not take advantage of it.

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