The virtual community of independent booksellers received a boost on Thursday, November 4, with ABA's launch of new forum software on the Idea Exchange section of BookWeb.org. The new, improved forum software was developed in response to booksellers' requests for more user-friendly forums, which provide flexibility and where booksellers can prioritize and search for topics of interest. Access to the forums is open to all ABA bookstore and provisional members and provides them with a valuable professional development tool. ABA is encouraging both regular users and new forum visitors to post their opinions about the new software, as well as suggestions on ways to improve activity on the forums, on the new Idea Exchange. (Booksellers who do not already have a BookWeb Account will need to create one.)
The way in which ABA members access the forums remains unchanged: The "Idea Exchange" link on the left-hand menu bar on the BookWeb homepage will bring booksellers to the new forums page, and booksellers who have book marked the forums will find that their links still work. The Idea Exchange is located on the Web at www.bookweb.org/ideaexchange/.
There, booksellers will see a completely new layout and links to:
- General Forum;
- Ask ABA;
- Ask BookSense.com; and
- Inventory Control Systems.
While the forum names have remained the same, the new software includes numerous enhancements.
When booksellers navigate to the new Idea Exchange homepage, they will be presented with the latest posts in each forum.
At the top of the Idea Exchange homepage, users can link to:
- The BookWeb homepage;
- "Recent Threads," where they can view the latest threads in the different forums;
- "My Profile," where the user can edit personal and viewable information, setting personal preferences including whether or not an e-mail address or IM name is visible to others; and
- Search or Help menus. The Search menu will allow the user to search the forums via keywords or by member name in all forums or in one particular forum. The user can also determine the number of results per page. The Help menu offers the user a wide range of information, from how to change a profile to creating and formatting posts.
Additionally, there is a menu bar on the left-hand side of the page that allows users to link to a page where all of the forums are listed.
Once a user navigates to a particular forum, he or she will be able to add emphasis to a posting with italic, bold, and underlined characters as well as 60 "smilies" that indicate a range of emotions. And handy formatting buttons allow the user to easily insert a URL, e-mail address, image, programming code, ordered list, or quote.
For booksellers with particular interests, the new software allows users to add a particular forum thread to their very own "favorites" list or add an e-mail "watch" to a particular thread.
Posts on the previous Idea Exchange will not be carried over to the new Idea Exchange. However, they will still be accessible on a "read-only" basis from the new forum homepage. Booksellers with questions regarding the new forums are urged to post their questions in the "Ask ABA" forum or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. --Dave Grogan