Gift Card Options for POS Systems

As the results from the Paper or Plastic? survey came in, some respondents noted that they like the convenience of plastic gift cards, but didn’t like the expense involved.

This prompted me to reach out to the POS providers you use. I sent a query through each software provider’s website and asked them this:

Does your point-of-sale software have a built-in gift card system? If so, how does it work? And finally, do you have a vendor you recommend?

Of the six POS providers you mentioned, BookLog, BookManager, and Basil replied within 24 hours. Anthology replied as soon as they received my message. (My fault.) I did not hear back from Wordstock or IBIDie.


I received a phone call from a representative from BookLog, Gwen Fishbeck. She told me bookstores can purchase cards from an outside vendor which are reusable. The vendor they recommend–Plastic Cards–carries the custom-printed barcoded cards for about 70 cents a piece, but other vendors can be used as well. The card purchase is recorded within BookLog and, at the time of sale, can be tied to either the person who bought it or the recipient. That way if the card is lost, it can be replaced.

BookLog has a separate process for loyalty cards, which can use barcode cards as well.

No extra module is needed for either of these options in BookLog.


Carley Bortolin with BookManager sent this reply:

“BookManager does have a built-in gift card system. Stores purchase their gift cards through us (or through their own vendor with our barcode specifications). Gift Cards are sold through the point-of-sale area of BookManager, just like a book. When the barcode is scanned, a screen pops up asking if you are wanting to redeem the card, refill the card, or simply audit the history. BookManager’s gift cards are reusable, can be refilled an unlimited amount of times, and can be sold from a store’s BookManager hosted WebStore. We work with a Canadian manufacturer which prints and ships the cards within a 3-4 week timeline (depending on the time of year). After the initial purchase of the cards, there are no extra fees, shipping is also included with the price per card.

“The BookManager software also includes various reporting on gift card activity such as a usage analysis, and outstanding gift card reports. Data for the cards is stored both within the BookManager software as well as online to the BookManager servers to avoid any potential loss.

“We have more information including pricing on our site here.

“Every gift card is unique and can be designed by the store’s graphic designer, or for a small design fee by me. There are no standard templates involved, we want each store to have their very own design match their brand. The samples shown in the link above are cards I have designed throughout the years.  We also sell 6 different types of gift card carriers which seem to work well for a majority of stores (general, Christian, kids etc.).”


And I received this reply from Gary Costello with BasilSoftware:

“As far as a vendor…we do have an integration with a company called ValuTec, and if a customer wants to take gift cards online, we recommend them. The caveat is that few customers use gift cards online…they do offer and use them in-store however, and for this purpose Basil does have a built in system.

“Basil tracks gift cards by number, so a bookseller can use a paper certificate, or he/she could go out and buy nice plastic cards, or they can use pretty much what ever “medium” they would like to as the “gift card”. The important thing is that the number is held in Basil so that when the customer comes in the store they can either present the “card” or, (if they don’t have the card with them), they can tell the store owner they have a gift card and the owner can look up the card in Basil, verify the name, card number and balance on the card, and proceed with the transaction.

“Not only can Basil ‘sell’ new gift cards, but cards can be ‘reloaded’ as well.”


Jim Bean with Anthology both called and emailed me. He said:

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to review the Anthology In House Gift Card solution. This is a great tool that many of our customers utilize. As a matter of fact, most of the stores that had the GiveX solution converted their data over to our In House Gift Card solution. One of the main reasons is that it costs less to manage gift cards in Anthology. We never charge a per transaction fee like exists with most external gift card solutions like Givex and Valuetec where you are charged per transaction. Valuetec charges $880 for 1000 customer cards. $35 per month per location for processing gift cards for up to 4000 transactions per year with 15 cent overage fee per transaction. Or $11 per month with 18 Cents per transaction.

“Anthology is a reseller for Plasti Card with various gift card printing options. For example, 1000 custom cards the cost would be 62 cents per card. (No activation, redemption or incrementing fee.) Anthology Gift Card features include balance check, overall outstanding balances, incrementing value and deleting gift card if needed for lost cards. The cost for this module would depend upon the business model for the stores installation. It could be part of their subscription for Anthology or they can purchase the module for a onetime cost starting at $595.

“Anthology also has built in gift certificate and customer loyalty programs along with many other features for automating the management of a bookstore.”


Quick & Dirty Results: Paper or Plastic?

A recent Quick & Dirty Survey asked… do you use paper gift certificates or plastic gift cards?

63% of respondents use paper

37% use plastic

Several stores that use plastic said that they switch to paper for donations or for those times a school will want a large quantity of $5 gift certificates, because small amounts aren’t worth the price paid for the plastic card and processing.

Some respondents said they like the convenience of plastic, but didn’t like the costs involved. So I conducted a bit of research.

“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters

“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters

paying guestsSarah Waters’s The Paying Guests is released today, and I am so happy. I’ve been living with this book since February.

Set in London after World War I,  the “paying guests” in the title refer to Lilian and Leonard Barber, a young married couple who rent rooms from Frances Wray and her mother. The book is told from Frances’s perspective as she takes on the head-of-household role, losing her brothers and father to the war and a heart attack, respectively. The Wrays find themselves near financial ruin after the war, and this is why they must take on tenants. Although “paying guests” sounds much more euphemistic and innocuous.

But the new living arrangement becomes far from harmless as the tenants become more acquainted and new relationships form.

It’s difficult for the Wrays to accept their new situation, dependent on income from lower-class couple. Frances is bothered by the necessary evil of taking on tenants from the start, and she finds herself constantly obsessing about them, thinking of little else while she performs all of the daily cooking and cleaning tasks once carried out by servants. And the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Barber becomes suspect to Frances, especially when she begins to become attracted to Mrs. Barber.

Obsession leads to lies, affairs, and murder. And since the figurative “smoking gun” appears so early in the book, the subsequent investigation and trial make this a gut-wrenching read, leaving the reader guessing who, if anyone, will crack and tell the truth.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead | 9781594633119 | September 16, 2014)



Celebrating 50 Years of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

On September 12, 1964, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published, featuring illustrations by Joseph Schindelman. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Knopf Books for Young Readers is releasing The Collector’s Edition with Schindelman’s original illustrations.

Here is a video featuring Joseph Schindelman, the original illustrator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In it Schindelman says:

The process of illustrating Wonka was made very easy for me by of Roald Dahl, because he laid it all out so carefully. All of his descriptions of all of the characters in the book were very precise. I particularly enjoyed drawing the people very fat, or nasty, or selfish or demanding. But Charlie was almost pristine. He had none of those attachments. I wanted to retain that sense of innocence in Charlie, and I think I treated it that way.

The man is as charming as his illustrations.

What’s your favorite sideline?

Last week I wrote about using the sidelines you sell and selling the sidelines you love. Since then, I’ve been completely curious about the sidelines you carry that you love.

This is a survey of sorts. It’s not necessarily Quick & Dirty, so I’m not waiting until Friday. Plus, I can’t wait until Friday. I mean, what if I need one of these items?

What’s your favorite sideline item that you sell? And if you have time, sell me on it.

Email me here.