It hasn't always been smooth sailing, but CIROBE (the Chicago International Remainder & Overstock Book Exhibition) marked its 20th show October 28–31 with one of its most vibrant events. Exhibits manager Chelsea Nash reported that, though attendance was down a few percentage points, exhibitors reported stronger orders. Exhibit space was even with last year, though the show was consolidated from four exhibit halls into three plus a meeting room, due to a scheduling conflict with the host hotel (Hilton Chicago). CIROBE president Bradley Jonas saw a positive side to a tighter event. "A more compact show is easier for buyers and maximizes visibility for exhibitors." New exhibitors included MJF Media of Canada, Igloo Books, Snazal Wholesale from the U.K., and the new remainder book company from California, XS Overstocks.
The show received rave reviews from both sides of the aisle. Robin Moody, owner of Daedalus Books, reported that orders were excellent, with sales notably higher than in recent years. At Texas Bookman, sales manager James Crates said, "It was the best trade show we've had in five years, and 10% of this year's sales were to new customers." According to Half-Price Books owner Robert Wilkie, "We were buying and placing bids from the Wednesday opening right up until closing on Sunday." Jeff Hudson, buyer for Powell's Books in Portland, Ore., concurred: "We found the quality and selection very high this year. I'm continually surprised at how many new vendors I find every year at CIROBE—you never know where you're going to find that great book."
In an e-mail interview, the Strand Bookstore's Fred Bass and Paul Secor wrote: "This was a fantastic CIROBE. We ordered more here than at any other fair we've attended. And the unique camaraderie of the remainder business, both exhibitors and attendees, always shines brightest at CIROBE." But it was American Book Company's Chris Eaton who summed things up best: "CIROBE is the Cirque du Soleil of bookselling."
The entire show mourned the absence of CIROBE cofounder Marshall Smith, who died suddenly after last year's show. Smith, who was also the owner of Key West Island Books, had been a commission sales rep for many remainder firms before launching CIROBE with Jonas in 1991.
Next year's CIROBE will be held October 27–30 at the Hilton Chicago.