Conference Book Sales

Through its annual conference book sales, AIS has offered members the opportunity to purchase some of the latest titles in interdisciplinary studies. The Conference Team is responsible for designating a Book Sale Coordinator to make arrangements for the book sale. Over the years, there have been two ways for a Conference Team to arrange for a book sale. The first way is simply to contract with another vendor, usually the university bookstore, to handle all the orders and sales. The second way is for a Book Sale Coordinator to handle all arrangements for the book sale, with his/her own team of on-campus volunteers and help from the AIS Office Manager.

Over the years, AIS has found that the book sales that have been organized by the Conference Teams are usually more exciting and offer a greater variety of materials than those developed by a private vendor. They also help raise a small amount of revenue for AIS. So we strongly recommend that Conference Teams develop their own conference book sales. The following is a set of guidelines to do that.

1. APPOINT BOOK SALE COORDINATOR: The Conference Coordinator should appoint a Book Sale Coordinator and notify the AIS Conference Liaison and AIS Office Manager.
2. START ORGANIZING TEAM: The Book Sale Coordinator should begin organizing a team that will help with the display during the conference (set-up, taking inventory, manning the tables, handling sales, follow-up returns).
APRIL/MAY

1. DEVELOP MATERIALS LIST: The Book Sale Coordinator will develop a list of books/materials for the upcoming conference.

2. BEGIN WITH LAST YEAR’S LIST: The Book Sale Coordinator should contact the AIS Office Manager for the list of books/materials that were available at the previous conference. This list will be the starting point for the list for the upcoming conference. The Book Sale Coordinator should review the list and eliminate any titles not needed (out-of-print titles, etc.).

3. BRAINSTORM ADDITIONS TO THE LIST: The Book Sale Coordinator should brainstorm titles that should be added … newly published books and materials, books by keynoters (these have usually been very good sellers), titles related to the conference theme. Do any of the presenters have new books out? The Office Manager can generally help with this, having information on newly published works by AIS members.

4. CONTACT INFORMATION: A final list should be compiled, listing publishers/contact info (name of rep and e-mail address) when available. The Office Manager can help with tracking down contact information.

5. BOOK SIGNINGS: Note which titles are by writers who will have a book signing during the conference so you can notify publishers that multiple copies will be needed for the signing.

6. THE FINAL LIST: The list should be complete no later than Memorial Day.

1. CONTACT PUBLISHERS: The Office Manager can contact publishers or share the workload with the Book Sale Coordinator; this is up to the Book Sale Coordinator. A Book Sale Coordinator who wants to make some of the contacts should notify the Office Manager and provide the names of the publishers he/she will contact.

2. SEND FIRST E-MAILS: The first e-mail invitations should be sent by early June (earlier if possible). The e-mail should include information about the conference, the date and hosts for the conference, the conference theme, and then particulars that would be of interest to the publisher who is contacted. For example, cite the particular titles from that publisher that are needed. It will be easier for publisher’s reps to send you materials if they know exactly what you need, and it alerts them that you are familiar with the publisher’s authors and titles. (It tells them this is not a generic e-mail.) Also include a line that you would welcome other suggestions from the publisher’s list of titles that relate to the conference theme. Identify the number of copies of each title that are needed (more for book signings, etc.)

View Sample E-mail Invitation

3. FOCUS ON THE ESSENTIALS: In the initial email invitation, do not set the deadline for sending materials, the mailing address, or other managerial details. This information will be provided in follow-up e-mails to those publishers who have agreed to participate.

4. STATE TERMS FOR PARTICIPATION: Make sure the e-mail invitations state the terms for participation clearly. (Again, see sample email invitation.) AIS does NOT pay publishers in advance for book copies. AFTER THE CONFERENCE, AIS reimburses publishers for sales and sends back any unsold copies. While there is no charge for publishers to participate in the book sale, publishers are asked to offer attendees at least a 20 percent discount on books/materials. Some publishers may offer more than a 20 percent discount. In these cases, you still sell the item at a 20 percent discount, and AIS makes a small profit. Publishers are familiar with this practice and will be more likely to give a higher than 20 percent discount if the authors of the book are participating in the conference.

5. PUBLISHERS’ REPS: Usually, invitations go out by e-mail inviting the publisher to participate in the conference. Few publishers have the resources to send a representative, but reps are welcome if they can come. Conference coordinators should provide space in the book display area for the rep, if they ask for it, and waive the rep’s conference fee (not the hotel charges, however).

1. SET DEADLINE: The Book Sale Coordinator should set a deadline for the materials to be sent. A good timeframe would be about two to three weeks before the conference’s starting day. That should allow enough time to inventory what has arrived, determine what hasn’t, and notify publishers whose materials have not yet arrived. Don’t set the deadline too early so you don’t have to make room for stock for an extended period of time.

2. ARRANGE FOR MAILING ADDRESS:The Book Sale Coordinator should make arrangements for a mailing address on campus where publishers can send the materials for the book display prior to the conference.

3. NOTIFY AIS OFFICE: The Book Sale Coordinator should communicate the deadline and the mailing address to the AIS Office Manager as early as possible.

4. RESPOND TO REPLIES: As e-mail replies come in from publishers, respond to any questions they may have, and if they have agreed to participate, send them the mailing address and the deadline to send. Again, the Office Manager may handle this or the Book Sale Coordinator and the Office Manager may collaborate.

5. HOW MANY COPIES? Some publishers will agree to send copies of their books to be sold during the conference, but they will ask how many copies are needed. Use your best judgment on how many copies you think might sell at your conference. Ten copies is usually a good figure for most titles, except for book signings or very popular works. Then you could ask for as many as 50 copies. You want to have enough copies to meet the demand for each book, but on the other hand you don’t want too many leftover unsold copies that will have to be shipped back and the shipping charges paid. Always ask for paperback copies of a title, if they are available. They sell better because they are less expensive. Welcome flyers, even if the publisher is sending books to be sold. Conference attendees may want to order a book later rather than buy it on site.

6. DISPLAY COPIES: Other publishers have policies against sending copies of their books for sale unless a rep is present, but they will send a display copy and flyers, usually with a conference discount. Welcome these because they will add to the variety of available materials and give attendees the opportunity to take a look at the book and decide if they want to order it later at the discount price. All display copies (except those on loan from an author) become the property of AIS. (They are not returned to the publishers.)

7. SECOND E-MAIL: Send out a second e-mail to those publishers who have not yet responded. Phone them if there is no reply to this second e-mail, if it seems advisable.

1. COMMUNICATE: The Book Sale Coordinator and the AIS Office Manager should consult with each other on which publishers have replied, which ones are sending materials or participating, and which ones are not planning to participate or haven’t replied. A final record should be compiled and shared between the Book Sale Coordinator and the Office Manager by early August.

2. CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS: The Book Sale Coordinator should make arrangements with his/her institution for handling credit card payments during the book sale.

3. SALES TAXES: Sales taxes should be collected for all sales. The Book Sale Coordinator should check on state and local sales tax rates for the conference site, adding the appropriate amount to the purchase price of each item, and then ensuring the tax revenues are properly remitted to the state and local governments.

4. REMINDERS: In late August, send a reminder to those publishers that have notified you they will be sending books/materials, repeating the deadline to receive materials and the mailing address. The AIS Office Manager can handle these e-mail reminders.

1. TEAM SHOULD BE SET: The Book Sale Coordinator should have his/her team set by early September. We recommend small teams of 3-4 persons, if possible. The Team will need to keep close communication and accountability for items on the table. Too many workers may cause confusion or result in lost items.

2. DOCUMENT MATERIALS: As materials arrive, the Book Sale Coordinator should begin a record of what has arrived. The record should include the title, the author, the publisher, hardback or paperback, list price, conference discount price, and number of copies. Leave spaces to note how many copies sold, and how many copies are to be shipped back.

View Sample Book Sale Record

3. STORE SHIPMENTS: Store the incoming shipments from the publishers until it is time for them to be taken to the conference site. Any accompanying records or communications on the shipments should be made available to the AIS Office Manager. Any questions should be referred to the AIS Office Manager.

4. LATE OR NO ARRIVALS: Note what hasn’t arrived but was expected. E-mails should be sent out promptly to any publishers whose books you have not received by the deadline.

1. SCOUT OUT BEST LOCATION: In advance of the conference, the Book Sale Coordinator should scout out the best location for the book sale at the conference site. Close to the registration area is probably best. Arrangements should also be made for display tables, and for a nearby secure area where merchandise can be safely stored after hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.

2. BOOK SALE HOURS: The Book Sale Coordinator should meet with his/her team to set hours for the Book Sale Display and establish work schedules for manning the book sale display. It is recommended that the book sale open as early as practical on Thursday morning and close by 3 p.m. Saturday to allow time for counting and packing up materials, balancing books, etc.

3. STAFFING THE DISPLAY: There should always be at least two members of the Book Sale Team present at the display at all times while it is open, so that one can be watching the display or answering questions from attendees browsing the display area, while the other is handling a sale.

4. MONEY MATTERS: The Book Sale Coordinator should acquire a receipt book and a moneybox, and everyone should be trained in advance on how to process sales and record receipts. Only one receipt book should be used for all sales. In filling out the receipts, note title, author, no. of copies, type of transaction (cash, credit card, check), transaction total.

5. MERCHANDISE LIST: Make sure the Book Team members each has a list of books/materials to be sold, and pricing information for each item. As noted earlier, no more than a 20 percent discount should be set for any book, regardless of the publisher’s discount. (Some publishers may offer a greater discount; this additional revenue helps offset some of the AIS administrative costs involved in the book sale.)

6. SIGNAGE: Make signage for the book sale display prior to opening. These may include directional signs (This way to the Book Sale), hours of operation, pricing, etc.

7. SET-UP: Either late Wednesday (if you have arranged for a secure storage area on site) or early Thursday, move the books and other materials to the conference display area. Make sure you will have a moneybox, and enough cash on hand to make change (document the amount you had in the money box before opening).

8. THE DISPLAY: On Thursday prior to opening, make sure the display tables are in place, and arrange the books and materials. Place AIS publications (Issues in Integrative Studies and the AIS Newsletter) in an area where attendees can easily sort through the different volumes. Post book sale hours of operation in 2 or 3 areas of the display so they are readily visible. You may also want to post titles of books for sale and their conference prices, compared to the list prices. Try to set a display copy of the most popular books on a stand so they are easily scanned when passing by the book table. You may also want to provide a small bowl of mints or candy. Make the display as attractive and friendly an area as possible.

9. OPENING: Usually conference attendees who come to register will also stop by the Book Sale Display. It is important to have the book table open during registration hours. There will be busy periods and slow periods during the book sales hours, depending on the conference sessions underway. If you schedule a book signing with an author at the book sale display, this will bring in attendees. Make sure the area for a book signing is a comfortable area with sufficient space for both the author and the attendees.

10. REARRANGE, AS NEEDED:: Periodically, check the display area and arrange to fill gaps to replace items that have been purchased.

11. CLOSE OVERNIGHT: Close the book display area each evening and secure the merchandise in a safe area. Check receipts against payments for each day. Secure the moneybox and move extra cash from that day’s purchases to an envelope and place in a secure strongbox to turn over to AIS at the end of the conference.

CLOSING AND AFTER THE CONFERENCE
1. CLOSING: You may sell out of some titles (we have in the past), but you will likely have merchandise left over. So at closing, the unsold copies need to be packaged in boxes for each publisher and prepared to be shipped back as soon as the conference closes. The Book Sale Coordinator is responsible for shipping the unsold books back to the publishers but can submit a receipt for the shipping costs to AIS for reimbursement. Remember, display copies are not returned, only those copies that have been sent as merchandise to be sold.

2. BALANCING THE BOOKS: The most important part of closing is balancing the books, making sure the cash amounts, checks, and credit card payments match the totals on the receipts. This is best done by separating the receipts by type of transaction, and then tallying up the results. Then turn over the receipts and the payments (cash and checks) to AIS (the Executive Director or the Office Manager). Make sure arrangements are made for the credit card proceeds to be sent to AIS. These are AIS funds, not part of the conference revenues.

3. SETTLING WITH THE PUBLISHERS: The AIS Office will send checks to each of the publishers for the proceeds of the sale for each of their books, based on the information that the Book Sale Coordinator has provided. The Book Sale Coordinator should provide the Office Manager a copy of a detailed record from the sale. For each book sold, this record should list the title, the author, the publisher, hardback or paperback, list price, conference discount price, number of copies received, no. of copies sold, no. of copies to be shipped back, and amount owed the publisher, along with any pertinent comments. (See example.)

Congratulations! If you have completed all the preceding steps of these guidelines, you have most likely had a very rewarding experience. Organizing an AIS Book Sale is one of the more exciting and worthwhile aspects of an AIS Conference. A successful one not only results in a number of sales and sends home happy purchasers, it also gives attendees the opportunity to examine closely a variety of books and other materials that are being published in interdisciplinarity and integrative studies.

For further information about organizing an AIS Conference Book Sale, contact the AIS Office Manager at aisorg@oakland.edu or by phone at (586) 263-6098.

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