Basic Bookselling

The Fall 2022 course begins Sept 12, 2022. (Enrollment has closed.) The next course will begin in Spring 2023.

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For current students - access the Fall 2022 Student Resource List here.

The Basic Bookselling Course is intended as a bookstore and book industry primer for the general, frontline bookseller. It is recommended for those who have been in bookselling for a year or less. This course will be offered twice a year.

Registration will open on August 15, 2022 for the September class. The fee is $125. Classes are on Mondays at 7pm ET / 6 pm CT / 5 pm MT / 4pm PT for one hour from Sept 12 through Nov 14, 2022.

2022 Course Instructors

Dean Matt Keliher, Manager and Buyer, Subtext Bookstore, Saint Paul, MN

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

Course Objective

The Basic Bookselling Course provides instruction and practice in basic bookselling techniques, customer engagement, and best practices in building displays. Students learn to write effective short book reviews and shelf talkers as well as how to effectively use signs to help drive sales. They learn the vocabulary of bookselling, as well as how Indie bookstores fit into the overall book industry, and the finances of how bookstores work. They also learn to make use of foundational resources such as the ABA, their regional trade associations, Edelweiss+, BINC, IndieNext, and other industry organizations.

Course Components

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.

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 – The Makings of a Bookseller

Class 3 – The Life Cycle of a Book

Class 4 – Inside the Store & Merchandising

Class 5 – Inventory

Class 6 – Customer Service & Engagement

Class 7 – Sales

Class 8 – Handselling: Children's Books & More
Class 9 – Finances of Bookselling

Class 10 – Career Considerations and 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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