Selling Books to Airport Stores (Not Just Airport Bookstores)
While flying to Oakland, California (from Hartford, Connecticut) last week, I had the opportunity to visit several airports. One thing in common is that they all had at least one bookstore, surrounded by a captive audience of interested—and sometimes weary—travelers looking for something to do to help pass time.
While biding my time waiting for one delayed flight, I was reminded of an important marketing strategy. Not everyone shops in airport bookstores, so why not sell books in other airport stores? There are many boutiques, specialty stores and even stores selling wine (with an assortment of books about wine and vineyards) at most large airports.
Selling through these stores gives a publisher the benefits of selling to airports' customers without having to experience the airport bookstores' penchant for best-sellers, or their "pay-to-play" philosophy where you pay for preferred positions.
There could be additional benefits to selling to the other airport stores, too. For example, books can be an impulse item purchased without due consideration given to price (price is less of an issue). Also, you eliminate your competition since there will be no rival books nearby for travelers to compare content or prices. Similarly, your book receives significant visibility among a broad audience. Exposure to international travelers may serendipitously lead to foreign sales.
What books sell well in all airport stores?
Titles for children tend to do well in airport outlets, especially children's activity books. "Harder thinking" titles sell well among business travelers who spend a good amount of time in airports. Titles on management, investment, economics, business biography, personal finance and health work well in the airport setting. Popular fiction always sells in this environment, too. If your book's content is tailored to the stores product offering, you have an even better chance of being accepted.
What books do not sell well in airport stores?
Hardcover books do not sell as well as softcover because people want portability. For the same reason, coffee table books, large books on photography and "souvenir" books are not usually fast movers, and therefore, infrequently carried in these stores. Gift-focused books do not sell well because the stores are post-security and people do not want to carry them. Most people have already shipped the gifts, or packed them in their luggage.
Submitting your books for distribution
You can increase your chances of being accepted by airport bookstores if you have a distribution partner. Most distributors and wholesalers can sell your books to airport stores. Suggested distribution companies to this segment include:
• Atlas Books: (419) 281-1802; 30 Amberwood Pkwy, Ashland, OH 44805
• Baker & Taylor: (800) 775-1800; 1120 Rte. 22 E., Bridgewater, NJ 08807
• Bookazine: (800) 221-8112; 75 Hook Road, Bayonne, NJ 07002
• Greenleaf Book Group: (800) 932-5420; 4425 Mopac South Street, Suite 600, Longhorn Building, 3rd Floor, Austin, TX 78735
• Ingram Book Co.: (800) 937-8000; 1 Ingram Blvd, LaVergne, TN 37086
• News Group: 3400 D Industry Drive East, Fife, Washington, 98424
• Partners Book Distributing: (517) 694-3205; 2325 Jarco Drive, Holt, MI 48842
• The Distributors: (574) 232-8500; 702 S. Michigan, South Bend, IN 46601
When you submit your materials to these buyers, send them a complete package. Include a copy of your book, your terms, a summary marketing plan, reviews, awards and sales history.
Demonstrate why your book should sell well in airport stores. Prove that you have studied the market and are submitting your book because it will help the store in some way. Show that your promotion will help increase sales, and state that your store signings will attract people who would not otherwise shop there, thereby helping to build store traffic. All these factors will improve the airport store's profitability, which is why they should choose your book. In the meantime, your competitors are struggling to get paid space among the canyons of books in the airport bookstores.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."