Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Attend a Bargain Book Show in Boston, Visit Mom

Greetings from the GABBS Bargain Book Show. Though Jason has been buying most of the bargain book titles, I used this opportunity to cash in some airline miles and get some more titles for our bargain book area. We still have at least one table waiting to be converted to bargain books.

This is also my first overnight away from Boswell Book Co. since we opened. The show gave me the emotional ability to leave the store and visit mom in Brookline. Note to all readers: if you've been remiss, you should also visit your parents. Even if you don't get along, it might someday be good fodder for a memoir.

The show was at the Hynes convention center. I missed the first day, which featured a keynote speech from Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, and also duck tours of Boston, like we have in Wisconsin Dells. I ran into Renaissance's Bob John on the floor and he told me it was a mighty good time.

I found the whole thing overwhelming. Not having remembered to download our inventory, I used the day to find titles that might not be on Jason's radar, looking at book categories where I'd seen folks browsing, and most particularly, browsing but not buying. In particular, I took a chance on some titles that might be tough sells, but that I wanted to see featured in the store. It's easier for an owner to make that call. I found a few lines that specialized in academic titles without per-title minimums. I found some great history, philosophy, and cultural studies titles (they are usually in our social crit section) that previously sold for $40 and up, that we're going to be able to retail for under $20. Lots of Oxford, Cambridge, New Press...

At another booth, I found the selection of bookmarks I'd been after but hadn't found at various full-price vendors. One line was too expensive, another's bookmark was too thick, and a third had per-item minimums that were way too high (20). Not only did I find, leather, metal, and pressed-flower bookmarks that matched all our criteria (OK, the metal is still a little thick), but we'll be able to sell them for substantially less than the original price. That's a win-win if I ever heard one.

Here's a photo of me buying titles from Rachel at Great Jones Books. She's a bit camera shy.

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