Depending on who one talked to and when, traffic at this year's CIROBE (Chicago International Remainder and Overstock Book Exposition) was "significantly lighter" or "really terrific." But even those who noted light traffic were still doing solid business. Tamara Stock at Daedalus reported, "Our order count was down, but we wound up selling more books than we usually sell." Like other exhibitors at the show, Stock attributed the slowdown in the number of orders to two factors: the presence of more bargain book vendors doing business on the Internet, and the drop in number of independent booksellers.
Robert Wilkie of Texas Bookman, another vendor who reported a lower order count but larger orders, theorized that the quality of the show's books was responsible for the increase in order size. "In general, everyone has a certain amount of better books," he noted. Wilkie's comment emphasized what CIROBE cofounders Brad Jonas and Marshall Smith have long declared—this show is only as successful as the books on sale. And, according to Smith, "There's no question that the quality of this year's books appeared to be considerably stronger than last year."
One aspect that differed from last year was the increased pre-show activity of some vendors at the nearby Congress Hotel. Estimates on the number of participants varied, but all agreed that the Congress drew more buyers and sellers this year than last. While some CIROBE attendees were concerned about this potential conflict, others saw it as a boon. As Book Club of America's Jim Soule explained, "You have vendors who were selling at the Congress and are selling here. That extended period has in fact brought new people to the show, and they're staying longer. So I think it's helping the show, because it ends up being 'CIROBE buying week.' "
Rumors circulating at the show concerning a possible BEA connection were confirmed with last week's announcement (PW Daily, Nov. 10) that BEA 2007 will open a day early, May 31, for remainder buyers and sellers.
In addition to order writing, making contacts continued to be one of the key reasons for attending as Richard Roberts of Book Clearing House noted, "Our business has grown phenomenally in the last couple of years and much of that is a result of making new connections here."