Basic Bookselling

Our Basic Bookselling Course is designed to welcome Independent Bookstore 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 world of bookselling and the specific job of a frontline bookseller. We teach 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. The course uses a combination of lectures, in-class discussions, and hands-on work to support beginning booksellers as they learn how to help their stores succeed. Students will learn the vocabulary of bookselling, how bookstore finances work, how inventory/curation decisions are made, job roles in stores, and the range of resources available to support bookselling such as BINC,  Netgalley,, ABA and regional trade associations. They will also learn how to use Edelweiss to get information and to post reviews. 

   2024 Student Resources Page

2024 Course Instructors

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

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

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

Dionne Sims, Owner, Black Garnet Books, St. Paul, MN

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, NEIBA, CALIBA, MIBA, SIBA, and MPIBA. Find out what support your Regional Trade Association offers on our website.

Course Objectives

This course will provide a thorough understanding of the bookselling business and an overview of the traits and qualities that a successful bookseller must possess. By the end of the course, participants will be able to: 

  • Demonstrate effective and confident hand-selling techniques 

  • Become familiar with the bookstore industry, including ABA, Regional Trade Associations, and BINC. 

  • Learn to use Edelweiss to find book information and post reviews 

  • Identify and understand the traits, skills, and practices that make a bookseller successful.

  • Understand the different jobs and roles inside the bookstore, and how frontline booksellers can support book buyers, merchandisers, and event staff.

  • Understand how independent bookstores fit within the broader book industry.

  • Gain skills applicable to an entry-level bookselling job, including customer service, display design, and handselling

  • Write effective shelf-talkers

Major Project Deliverables

A brief written reflective assignment each each, a weekly shelf talker, and a final project. For the final project students create a model in-store display with books, sidelines, and shelf talkers. Photos of this are presented as a slide deck along with a an oral description of how the display fits with the store's mission statement and customer base.

2024 Basic Bookselling Syllabus

Class Schedule
Class 1: Welcome to Bookselling
Class 2: Bookseller Tools & Services
Class 3: A Day in the Life of a Bookseller
Class 4: Handselling & Customer Service
Class 5: Handselling Children’s Books                 
Class 6: The Shape of Your Store
Class 7: Inventory and Curation
Class 8: Out-of-the-Box Bookselling    
Class 9: Bookstore Finances
Class 10: Live presentations of final projects


Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Understand how Indie bookstores work, including roles within stores and how stores function within the book industry

  • Know the most important organizations and services that support bookstores, including the ABA, Regional Trade Associations, BINC, Edelweiss,,, and more

  • Understand why and how each store chooses the books that they stock, and how these connect to a store's mission statement and/or customer base

  • Identify and understand the traits, skills, and practices that make a Frontline Bookseller successful, including understanding where to find information on books, customer service skills, and how effective hand-selling works

  • Understand how Frontline Booksellers interact with the store's layout and inventory to increase sales

  • Understand how to design, and sell from, effective displays

  • Write an effective shelf-talkers

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