Basic Bookselling

Our Basic Bookselling Course is designed to welcome staff into a career in bookselling. It is intended as a primer for frontline booksellers with a year or less experience. The course introduces the book industry as a whole, and the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in bookselling, including: merchandising, hand selling, creating shelf talkers and other reviews, customer service, and creating displays that sell. 

Spring 2023 Student Resources Page

2023 Course Instructors

Dean Gary Lovely, Manager, Prologue Bookshop, Columbus, OH

Susan Kehoe, Owner, Browseabout Books, Rehobeth Beach, DE

John Evans, Co-Owner, Diesel, A Bookstore, Los Angeles and San Diego, CA

Gabriel Moushabeck, Owner, Booklink Booksellers, Northampton, MA

Sarah Bagby, Owner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, KS

Heather Hebert, Owner, Children's Book World, Haverford, PA

View Instructor Biographies


Being an active member of the bookselling industry is a critical step in growing a bookstore and shows commitment to your chosen profession. Stores with students in all Professional Booksellers School courses are required to be current members of their regional trade association and/or the American Booksellers Association. Students must also be enrolled in PBS, which is free.

Course Components & Cost

This course consists of live classes via Zoom and live presentations of a final project. Homework is assigned for each class. Students are expected to attend the live classes and finish and pass all homework to be certified. The course is $125, with discounts available for members of NAIBA, CALIBA, and MPIBA. Some regional trade associations refund the full registration cost for students who successfully complete the course and are certified.

Course Objectives
The Professional Booksellers School Basic Bookselling Course provides booksellers with the skills and tools to:
  • understand how bookselling fits into the overall book industry
  • learn the vocabulary of bookselling
  • provide outstanding customer service
  • handsell to adults and kids
  • understand a store’s layout and merchandising strategies
  • write effective reviews and shelf talkers
  • make use of foundational resources such as the ABA, regional trade associations, Edelweiss+, BINC, IndieNext, and other industry organizations
Major Project Deliverables

Weekly shelf-talker/book review and a final project of a display built to serve the store’s customer base and mission statement, with shelf-talkers and live handselling demonstration.


Class 1 – Welcome to Class, Syllabus Review

Class 2 – Bookseller Tools & Services

Class 3 – The Makings of a Bookseller

Class 4 – Inside the Store & Merchandising

Class 9 – Finances of Bookselling

Class 6 – Customer Service & Engagement

Class 7 – Sales

Class 8 – Handselling: Children's Books & More
Class 5 – Inventory & Curation

Class 10 –Live Presentations of Final Project

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand how Indie bookstores work including roles within stores and how stores function within the book industry, including how publishers work, Ingram, ABA, trade associations
  • Gain a functional knowledge of how books are acquired and reviewed, including being taught about: the ABA, white boxes, Edelweiss, Indie Next, BookTok, and the relationship between a store’s mission statement and which books are stocked and displayed
  • Identify and understand the traits, skills, and practices that make a frontline bookseller successful, including understanding where to find information on genres and books, understanding leading literary awards, and how effective hand-selling works
  • Understand how to capture and increase sales, including special orders, sidelines, wrapping
  • Understand the basics of bookstore design and how to create effective displays
  •  Gain skills applicable to an entry-level bookselling job, including copywriting, display design, and the creation of marketing and publicity ideas
  • Write an effective shelf-talker or blurb

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