All Press Releases for February 27, 2007

Spring Book Show founder discusses remainder book market

Larry May, founder of Atlanta's Spring Book Show, the largest bargain book show in the South, discussed the state of the bargain book business in recent interviews in the Southern Review of Books and the Associated Book Exchange (AbeBooks) newsletter.

    /24-7PressRelease/ - ATLANTA, GA, February 27, 2007 - Far more books are sold at a discount from retail than are sold at the suggested cover price - and a large percentage of the discounted books end up in the remainder market.

Knoxville's Larry May, founder of the Spring Book Show, scheduled for Atlanta's World Congress Center on March 23-25, knows the remainder business. Formerly an executive with the 100-store Book Warehouse chain that specialized in remainders, he founded Atlanta's Spring Book Show eight years ago. Following is what he told the Southern Review and AbeBooks.

Q. What kind of booksellers and books are found at the Spring Book Show?
A. (Larry May) We specialize in remainders, hurts, returns, promotional and white sales. We also have sidelines - calendars, reading glasses, music (CDs), cards, stationery, pens and other writing instruments. There are a couple of close-out companies that will sell anything that they think someone will buy at a discount. Beanie babies, scooters, package deals, videos - you name it.

Q. How many book buyers will be at the show this year?
A. Approximately 700.

Q. How far do your book buyers come?
A. We have buyers coming from Nigeria, Indonesia, Canada, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Virgin Islands, South Korea and The Bahamas

Q. Can you name a few of the sellers who we can expect to see there?
A. The largest would be American Book Company, Book Depot, Strictly by the Book, Fairmount, Daedalus, Book Country, S & L Sales, World Publications, Book Smart and Kudzu -- to mention a few.

Q. What are the origins of the show?
A. The show grew out of a cooperative called Affiliated Value Booksellers. There were about 40 members who formed a buying group and would have a conference twice a year. At one of the meetings, we would invite vendors to come to the hotel and display their product to the members of the group - it was a "member only" showing. In the mid-90s, the group disbanded and I took the small show and built it into a bigger one.

Q. Do particular genres do better than others once they become remainders?
A. I would say that it exactly mirrors the general trade book industry. What sells well in the general trade industry sells well at our show. Of course, the reason we have a show is because the publisher didn't sell enough of something, overprinted, allowed returns or they need to turn books into cash. I must say this about the book industry, I don't care how good an author is - their books will end up being handled somewhere along the line by one of our vendors. It is inevitable. We feel that our vendors, our show, our industry gives the book additional "lives." In other words, if it didn't sell in a specific setting, it very well may sell in another setting. We give the publisher a variety of "settings" in which they can recoup their money.

Q. What's the state of the remainder book industry at the moment?
A. The remainder business seems healthy to me - it is the independent retailer who is struggling. You probably know the figures, but in the early 90's, the membership in the ABA peaked at around 4,800 members. Today there are less than 1,800. If you were to ask me, how many of the 1,800 are viable retail operations - meaning profitable stores not being subsidized by the owners - I would have to say less than half, maybe 750 to 900 stores. The CBA, the Christian Booksellers Association, is in even more dire straits, primarily because the general trade bookstore has determined that the inspirational book is a viable seller in their market too. The remainder dealer has had to venture outside of traditional book markets to survive - the ones who are thriving have done that.

Q. What does the internet do for the remainder book industry?
A. The innovative remainder dealers have made good use of the internet. They use it to wholesale, business to business, and to retail, business to consumer. They have had to adjust like everyone else. Those that have adjusted to the internet, gone outside the traditional book retailer and found specific niches to sell into have done better. Those that have failed to adapt to the changes in the industry are pretty much out of the business.

Anvil Publishers is an Atlanta-based publisher of books and newsletters.

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