Independent Online Booksellers Association

New Member Application

Interested in joining the Independent Online Booksellers Association?

Before filling out the application form, please take a few moments to read about our requirements. We recognize that membership in IOBA is not the best fit for all online booksellers, particularly if you are committed to one of the more rigid and automated bookselling service models that is not very compatible with traditional standards of the trade, and we don't want to waste your time or ours.

Our primary concern is for professional listings and high standards. This means full and accurate descriptions of the book in hand with all defects noted; conservative grading; and no blanket statements about condition or shipping speed or other repetitive boilerplate. We are looking for booksellers who want to create their own listings (or at least complete them) rather than relying solely on autofill "product information" that is provided for them, as that is often inaccurate and incomplete, and not very helpful when better books come along. Your bookselling business website returns policy must clearly state that customers may initiate a return, and that you will provide a full refund in that event. The IOBA Code of Ethics further stipulates that you will pay for return shipping costs if the item was misdescribed, and that the seller is responsible for items that are lost or damaged during shipping.

The following factors are positives. Bibliographically correct descriptions; images available of books for sale; professional pricing; having your own website; specialization; good feedback; and anything that customers and fellow professional booksellers would find reassuring and admirable about your business.

The following factors are negatives. Boilerplate language; poor condition descriptions (condition should match the grade you give, grading should be conservative, there should be a separate grade for the book and the dust jacket when there is one, and you should use professionally recognized condition definitions such as those listed on our website under Resources); missing bibliographic information (you should list the author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, edition, printing/state, and number of pages; and you should note the presence of illustrations, maps, a bibliography, an index, etc.); stock images that are not noted as such; bizarre pricing on the high end; poor communications; poor feedback; and anything that customers and fellow professional booksellers would find suspicious or disturbing about your business.

We recognize that entry-level booksellers may need a little help to take the next steps toward professional status. If it is clear that you have some work to do before applying, please navigate our website and consult some of the helpful pages you will find there for guidance. We also suggest visiting the websites of IOBA members. If you do apply and fall short in some areas but are close to meeting the requirements, we have a Mentorship Program that may give you an opportunity to work with a professional member of IOBA toward the goal of re-applying.

The Independent Online Booksellers Association membership year begins January 1st, and dues are prorated according to the date of admission (January-February $50, March-May $40, June-August $30, September-October $20, November-December $10). Lapsed members who wish to rejoin pay the full amount. Annual dues are billed and should be paid during the month of December, prior to the start of the new membership year.

Professional Membership (Membership dues of $50.00 per year)

Membership Qualifications:
  1. A minimum of one year prior online bookselling experience.
  2. Must be an owner/partner/member of an online bookselling business which is not a publicly traded corporation.
  3. Current, primary online business is selling books.
  4. Applicants must provide their required business registration type and number. Examples of this would be your sales tax number, local business license number, VAT, UTR or GST. If local, state, and national laws require no registration as a legal business and no sales tax, please provide that information.
  5. A minimum online inventory of 200 books, at least 90% of which must be currently in stock.
  6. The range of pricing and the quality of your inventory should indicate your commitment to professionalism as a bookseller.
  7. Stated bookselling business website policy that customers may initiate a return, and that you will provide a full refund in that event.
  8. Policy of paying return shipping for misdescribed items, and policy of seller responsibility for items that are lost or damaged during shipping.
  9. Books are correctly described by author, title, place, publisher, date of publication, edition, binding type, etc., with all defects noted. Description must be about the specific book in hand.
  10. Membership is granted to only the business name applied for.
  11. Agrees to conduct business in accordance with the IOBA Code of Ethics.

  • Participate in member benefits, services and programs
  • May display "IOBA Professional Member"
  • May display "IOBA Professional Member" graphic logo
  • May vote in IOBA official elections
  • May chair or serve on a committee
  • May hold elected office
  • A link on the IOBA member directory to the member's website
  • A subscription to the IOBA Discuss email list
  • A subscription to the IOBA Tradebooks email list
  • Eligible to list books at

Apply Now

Please contact IOBA's Membership Committee for more information.

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