After 22 years, the Great American Bargain Book Show, an annual show that offers remainder, closeout, and bargain books, has canceled its upcoming spring 2017 show and will close.
"After much thought and many discussions, we have come to the conclusion that GABBS is no longer economically viable," wrote president and founder Larry May in an email to exhibitors.
The show has struggled with attendance in recent years, as well as a shrinking market. May said the industry seen “a contraction at a pretty high level.”
The show’s closing follows news last month that the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance was planning to move its fall trade show to the spring, in 2018, and hold it in conjunction with GABBS. The proposed transition was the subject of many conversations at the SIBA trade show held in Savannah in mid-September.
SIBA has worked closely with GABBS in the past. Among other things, SIBA has held its springtime day of education in conjunction with GABBS in Atlanta, at the AmericasMart Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings and Holiday Market.
Despite GABBS’s closure, the 2017 SIBA spring show will take place as planned in Atlanta on March 7. But rather than other industry topics, the day-long theme will be “Writing the Future of the SIBA Discovery Show." There will be sessions on all aspects of the trade show.
Attendance at GABBS has been problematic in recent years. Following last March’s show at the AmericasMart, May said he planned to look for a new home for the event. Vendor no-shows in 2016 were about 30%, while vendor attendance at AmericasMart dipped by 40%.
In addition to declining vendor presence, GABBS faced an additional challenge this year. With the change in timing for the London Book Fair, which is moving from April to March, several vendors declined to commit, as did some of the largest bargain book buyers
Instead of moving, GABBS tried to strengthen its relationship with long-time partner SIBA by combining its bargain book show and SIBA’s regional trade show.
“Unfortunately for SIBA, we put them in a difficult situation,” May told PW, referring to the timing of the GABBS cancellation.
As GABBS winds down, May plans to focus on his family’s other businesses, which include Freight Management Systems, a third-party logistics company; importing Wordsworth Classics; and bargain calendars.