Almost a year after WebNotions in Fairfield, N.J., parent company of online retailer A1Books.com, launched a bargain book division, A1Overstock.com, it has opened its first physical retail outlet. A1 Value Books in Morris Plains, N.J., is taking on big-box retailers from its location in a strip mall across the highway from Barnes & Noble and within a 10 miles of two other Barnes & Noble stores and a Borders.
"Every business I have done has evolved," A1 founder and chair Shinu Gupta told PW. "When I started going to the wholesale book shows like CIROBE, I found that every wholesaler has an outlet like this. The cost of books for us is very low." Gupta passed his savings on to customers by offering a 20% grand opening discount across the board on every item in the store for the month of September. Although most of the stock consists of remainders and bargain books, A1 Value Books also carries a selection of new titles, magazines, cards and DVDs. Bargain books are discounted 50%, new books 20%. "There will be no books priced higher than Barnes & Noble or Costco," said Gupta, who plans to have a large children's book selection. A1, which already does a big business with college students, is using the store to focus on teachers in grades k—12. "We'll take special orders and have teachers come to our Web site," said Gupta, who is already scouting a second location to be opened within the next six months.