Even before the opening of last weekend’s Great American Bargain Book Show (Aug. 21-22), which moved from Atlanta to Boston’s Hynes Convention Center for the first time, booksellers were primed. As Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., noted in Friday morning’s educational seminar on What We’ve Done to Increase the Bottom Line, “This is going to be a boom time for remainders.” At her store, reminders are up 35% and together with used books comprise 15% of sales. Remainders are a “growth business,” concurred Julia Halpryn, buyer for TJX, parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, who came early to search for cookbooks and nonfiction.
Roughly 270 book buyers attended this summer’s show, 35% more than in 2008, according to GABBS co-owner Larry May, who also runs the Spring Book Show. There were several first-time attendees like buyer Lorna Ruby of Wellesley Booksmith in Wellesley, Mass., who want to add remainders to their inventory mix, or Ken Kozick, who will open a new and used bookstore, Sheafe Street Books, in Portsmouth, N.H., later this fall. Another first timer, Ida Arrington, with a church bookstore in Rocky Mountain, N.C., Word Alive, said that she came to see what it would be like. Still, many exhibitors commented that they saw mostly the same chain buyers who shop their showrooms—from Borders, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and dd’s DISCOUNTS—so it was hard to tell if GABBS was worth it.
Daniel Goldin, who came for the first time in his new role as bookseller/proprietor of recently opened Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, Wisc., said he attended GABBS to fill the categories that tend to have high-priced books like art and academic titles and to find journals and bookmarks. He was one of many book buyers who noted that they were on the lookout for fourth quarter books, since this year’s CIROBE will be too late.
As Bob Sommer, co-owner of Changing Hands, said, “This show is perfectly timed. We didn’t have another show to get books in for November.” With school openings pushed back until mid-September in New England, exhibitor Deborah Hastings at Federal Street Press in Darien, Conn., said that she took some orders for back-to-school in addition to Christmas.
Although the level of frenzy never reached the pitch of the Filene’s Basement Bridal Event on the floor below, most GABBS exhibitors thought it was worth it despite a very quiet day on Saturday. And some buyers did come in early to visit nearby warehouses for 25-year-old World Publications Group in East Bridgewater, Mass., and Strictly By-The-Book in Fall River, Mass. “I had a great show,” said national sales manager Wren Franklin with Thomas Nelson Bargain Books in Nashville, Tenn. “I had five appointments set up prior to coming to the show, worked through lunch and was very pleased with the size of my orders. I loved the city of Boston and would like to hear that we will be coming back to Boston next year.”