BookSense.com Testing New Publisher Co-Op Program

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In February, BookSense.com began testing a new program that could help participating bookstores fund the entire cost of their BookSense.com Web sites through the use of newsletter co-op.

"We believe this program will be very valuable because, not only will it help offset the bookstore's cost of operating its Web site," said Len Vlahos, director of BookSense.com, "but it makes available co-op dollars that many bookstores don't have the time or the staff resources to collect." The co-op program is scheduled to officially roll out at the end of May, to coincide with BookExpo America, which will be held in Los Angeles from May 28 - June 1.

The BookSense.com co-op program is designed to give BookSense.com members a simple way to collect exempt newsletter co-op funds for some or all of the cost of their BookSense.com Web sites. BookSense.com will handle all the paperwork for participating bookstores, and, in turn, will charge bookstores 15 percent of the co-op dollars earned from the publishers. This fee is simply to cover administrative functions, Vlahos noted.

At present, three publishers are participating in the BookSense.com program: AOL Time Warner Book Group, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. Harcourt, Inc. will be joining the co-op test for April and May.

Jeanette Zwart of HarperCollins noted, "Our newsletter co-op program has always been a successful medium to help retailers sell books. We look forward to the assurance of increased in-store placement for our titles as a result of this initiative."

Said Jeff Meltzer, a consultant to BookSense.com, who is helping to expedite the program, "In my experience, most smaller booksellers are looking for ways to boost their sales and take advantage of the programs that many publishers put together. By our putting together this program, booksellers/owners are able to work to take advantage of the co-op programs offered."

Here's how the BookSense.com co-op program works:

Each month, BookSense.com will present participating stores with seven to 12 themes to post on their Web sites. Each theme will contain five titles, each of which will be eligible for newsletter co-op. These themes can be posted on the store's BookSense.com Web site both through the "edit national content - edit themes" and "edit local content - include special feature" modules of the store's administrative tools.

Once posted, a bookstore must leave the theme or themes up for the entire calendar month in order to be eligible for co-op reimbursement. The store also needs to feature the books in an in-store display and place a minimum order for five or 10 copies for each title, depending on the publisher. Moreover, a bookstore does not need to claim co-op for each title in each theme. It can claim co-op and order books for as many or as few titles as the store wants.

Each eligible title earns $50 in co-op. The bookstore will receive a check or credit memo (as well as a statement) directly from the publisher. ABA will then charge 15 percent of the total co-op earned to the bookstore's credit card that is on file with BookSense.com. For example, if a bookstore features two themes and claims co-op on all five titles in each theme, the store will receive $500 in co-op reimbursement from the publishers. ABA will charge the store's credit card $75, or 15 percent of $500.

For more information on the BookSense.com co-op program, contact Len Vlahos at (800) 637-0037, ext. 1215, or via e-mail, len@booksense.com.