Friday, December 19, 2008

Bookstores Facing Bleak Holiday Selling Season In Depressed Economy

Retailers are growing increasingly concerned about a bleak holiday selling season, and booksellers are no exception.

Net book sales decreased two percent in September 2008 to $1.062 billion, according to results reported by 80 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. Net sales for the nine months through September fell 1.5 percent to $7.718 billion.

A number of independent bookstores are being threatened as a result of the national economic crisis. Among the recent casualties closing their doors in the Southeast are Windows, a Bookstore in Monroe, La., and the Book Basket in Wetumpka, Ala.

In a special series advising independent booksellers on how to survive in the slumping U.S. economy, the American Booksellers Association tells retailers that buying remainders can help them get through tough economic times. The advice appeared in the Oct. 30 issue of ABA's online newsletter Bookselling This Week.

Remaindered books are books that have had much of their run and whose remaining unsold copies are being liquidated by the publisher at greatly reduced prices. Because they're often sold for as little as 10 percent of cover price, retailers can usually buy and then resell them for higher margins than they can new titles from the major publishing houses.

"In both good times and bad, many booksellers turn to remainders as a way to supplement and complement their inventory without breaking the bank," says Larry May of Bargain Book Bids, a Knoxville service that auctions remainders.

According to May, remainders in the U.S. are sold year-round by 100 or so dealers. They are also sold at several major trade shows. The first major remainder show upcoming is the Spring Book Show, scheduled for Friday-Sunday, March 6-8, at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. Information on the show is available at

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