The Great American Bargain Book Show (GABBS), formerly known as the Spring Book Show, returned to Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Centre this past weekend with nearly 70 vendors from around the country (as well as Canada and the UK) pushing a mix of overstock, remainder, bargain, and value books, as well as sidelines—though some vendors, like the University of Alabama Press, were also on-hand with new titles. Some booksellers came from as far away as Massachusetts and Colorado. The show floor opened on Friday morning with two new themed aisles, one for sidelines and one for “close-outs,” as well as an educational seminar from the ABA, “Best of the Best Practices from Winter Institute 7.”
Some 40 booksellers attended the ABA’s lively Friday morning seminar, led by CEO Oren Teicher and put together in conjunction with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). The seminar in Atlanta was the ABA’s third stop along a 12-stop national tour to spread advice garnered at the latestABA Winter Institute. Condensing the wisdom of a three-day event into a single info-packed hour, Teicher led booksellers through four topics vital to the success of indie bookstores: Web Presence, Relationship Building, Children’s Bookselling, and Finances. He also shared good news from his members’ bottom lines: not only was the pre-Christmas season up 15.5% from 2011, but strong sales have continued well into January and February. “January and February 2011 were tough,” Teicher said. “Sales fell off the cliff in a lot of stores. But January and February 2012 have continued to be very strong, and the reason is that there are people out there figuring out how to make this work.”
Teicher’s most persistent message was to keep spreading the gospel of the independent, locally-owned business, a quality that in the past year has gained traction with consumers, in part thanks to buy-local campaigns like the American Express-supported Small Business Saturday and “evangelists” like Ann Patchett, author and owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn.
SIBA hosted another educational seminar on Saturday morning, “Best Practices for Working GABBS to Your Store’s Advantage,” which gave booksellers a heads-up on what to find on the showroom floor and how to sort through it all.
GABBS will be putting on its summer show August 1-2 in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. Booksellers can register for the Boston show here.