PBC LogoFrequently Asked Questions
Why have a certification program?

Booksellers have demonstrated skill sets that cross all manner of professional occupations: business development & strategy, marketing, human resources, social media, community outreach, negotiating. In addition, they need to be well-read, well-spoken, and well-organized. Professional Bookseller Certification will recognize these demonstrated skills and declare to the world that they are a member of an industry, a career, and are a passionate professional.

How do I get a certificate?

There are four core courses in the Professional Bookseller Certification. Those are Basic Bookselling; Event Management; Inventory Management;  and Store & Operations Management. A bookseller is certified in those specific areas after they've completed and passed the individual course. Completing all four courses gives you the distinction of Certified Professional Bookseller. Booksellers are welcome to complete the courses that meet their own professional needs and do not have to work to attain certification.

Another path to Professional Bookseller is completing one module, Career Fast-Track. That module will contain elements from all the other modules and will be available to booksellers with a minimum number of years in bookselling. That module will be launched last in the series, estimated in the third quarter of 2023.

Leadership and Personnel Management (originally called Staff & Human Resourses) has been moved out of the certification track and moved into a professional development track. Course work for this topic, along with bookstore finances and other topics, are being developed to give bookstore owners and general managers in-depth training.

How much?

If you are asking about the fees, they are $125 to $375 per course depending on the course. You can check with your regional booksellers’ association, as some offer scholarships to offset that expense - check with them before you register and pay, as those funds are handled separately from registration with PBS. Stores may pay for their staff members, or booksellers may pay the fees themselves as personal professional development.  Current members of those  Regional associations who support the school and its work will also have a discount code you can apply to your registration.

If you are asking about time, it depends on the course. Basic Bookselling runs 10 weeks of 75 minute classes. The other courses are 90 minutes classes and run 15-16 weeks. You'll also need time to do homework every week, which is about one hour for Basic Bookselling and 2 or more for the other courses.

Who is this for?

Any bookseller who is employed by or who owns an independent book retail operation in the United States and/or Canada may sign-up for any of the certification courses. The bookstore itself must be a member of either the regional bookseller association or American Booksellers Association. Participation in industry associations is a foundation for a professional career.

Who is organizing this?

The Professional Booksellers School, Inc. is a charitable education non-profit. The founder and president is Eileen Dengler. The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) initiated and funded the program and continues to be the major donor. It is a national program, and we hope industry leaders will support this in spirit and monetarily.

Are classes & coursework done on bookstore work time?

Each courses’ instructors set the class schedule to accommodate the different time zones, and to be consistent throughout the course. The PBS organizers have no authority or opinion on whether a bookseller attends or completes this coursework on work or personal time, nor if they are compensated by their store for taking any course. If this is a concern, review the class schedule with your supervisor.

How Do Courses Work?

Classes will be conducted online via Zoom meetings, and attendance at these is required to reach certification. Courses also offer additional supports for students including office hours with instructors via Discord and self-directed training videos. During each course students and faculty communicate with each other via a private Discord server. Some homework is presented live in class; written homework is uploaded into Discord. In the future some courses will be offered as self-paced tutorials, and some individual classes will be offered at national and regional bookseller meetings.

Each course is designed to be a series of 60-90 minutes classes at set weekdays and times. Some courses meet weekly and some meet every-other week to allow time for homework and projects. Courses are generally 10 - 16 classes. After you register for a course, you'll receive a syllabus with all the exact dates and times. Outside of class, plan to allow for an average of two hours a week for homework.

Prerequisites/Co-Requisites for Our Courses
  • Participants must work for a store with a current membership with ABA and/or their regional booksellers association.
  • Participants are required to be employed by or have ownership of a bookstore (this includes a brick & mortar, mobile, online, or pop-up shop). These courses are high-level professional development for people already in the bookstore industry.
Required Access & Programs for PBS Courses
  • Reliable access to the internet and a computer/tablet.
  • Access to Zoom to participate in live classes.
  • Access to the Professional Booksellers School Events Course webpage.
  • Access to an Edelweiss+ account at a level necessary for the course
  • Primary email account to receive curriculum and course updates.
  • A Discord account (a link to sign up for this free service will be emailed to registered students)
  • Some courses may require access to a store’s POS, publisher accounts, Edelweiss+ event grids, employee handbook, or some store financial information. Exact needs will be described in the registration materials for each course.

If you have questions or need assistance, contact administration at hello@professionalbooksellers.com.