Bi-Monthly Newsletter for the book industry
Issue 20, November 19, 2015
Meet Shane Gottwals
Gottwals Books & The Walls of Books® Franchise
How did you get involved in the book industry? How long? When, etc?
Gottwals Books started in March of 2007. This was within just a few months of Abbey and I graduating from Mercer University and getting married. I had a good bit of retail experience before we started the bookstore. However, I had no retail bookselling experience. I sold consumer electronics for many years. I went through my first two years as an undergraduate with the intention of eventually going to law school. That's why I pursued an English degree. By the time I finished my 4-year degree, I had no desire to attend law school. While sitting around the lunch table with her parents one day, Abbey and I decided to unite her Business degree with my English degree and start a bookstore!
I have always been curious about how used bookstores decide how much to pay for the books that are brought in to the store? Could you explain the different models and their advantages and disadvantages?
Used bookstore trade-in/cash systems vary wildly. Stores offer trade credit only, a mix of cash offers and trade credit (when doing this, most stores give a higher value in trade credit than cash), and some do cash only. I've never seen a consistent policy for trade/cash evaluation. Most used bookstore owners sort of "feel it out" and the values given are very subjective. Some bookstores have a computerized system. Walls of Books® balances both. We train our employees how to use the internet AND their own real-world insight. They consider the book's condition, subject matter, format, and popularity to create a value. Our people are very well-trained.
How did you develop your model?
Our model happened by a lot of trial and error. I think this is the biggest advantage to our franchise option. We have worked out many of the difficulties of doing business, and we pass all of that hard-fought knowledge on to our franchisees. There are plenty of tidbits we share during our training, and our Walls of Books® Operations Manual is hundreds of pages long. We have simply spent many years trying new ideas and learning lessons from the results.
Do you sell only used books or do you sell remainders, sidelines, front lists?
Used books represent the bulk of Walls of Books® sales. Behind that, we sell lots of front list and back list titles. In terms of gross volume, we sell about the same amount in sidelines vs. remainders.
What would be an educated guess as to the range of cost of goods for used bookstores, not Walls of Books specifically, but used bookstores in general.
Factoring in the various buy-back programs, I would say between 20 and 25%.
And how about the same question for gross sales, as it relates to used bookstores?
For the average 2000 square foot shop, the range could vary from $100,000 to $150,000.
How large is your typical store?
Our Walls of Books® store footprint ranges from 1,600 sf to 7,000 sf. We typically like to see stores start with at least 2,000 sf, but this isn't always an option. In higher-income areas, downtown districts, and tourist destinations, we usually start with 1,600 sf or so.
ABA Expresses Solidarity With People of France
“The American Booksellers Association (as does Bargain Book News) expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died in the horrific events in Paris this past weekend,” said CEO Oren Teicher. “We’ve been in touch with our book selling colleagues in France and have pledged our solidarity with them — and all the people of France — in light of this tragedy.” Read on
Wi11: Sessions, Store Tours & More
Here’s the latest on registration for Winter Institute 11’s bookstore tours, Advanced Learning Education sessions, the Après Institute Ski Trip, and more. Registration for Winter Institute 11’s four Advanced Learning Education sessions for owners and managers, which opened last week, will remain open until Monday, December 7. The American Booksellers Association will aim to accommodate all stores that register with at least one ALE placement, but space for each session is limited. Interested booksellers are encouraged to register as soon as possible. Assignments will be e-mailed the week of January 11, 2016. Register for an Advanced Learning Education session now. - See more here.
IBPA's Benjamin Franklin Awards
The second round of IBPA's Benjamin Franklin Awards Call for Entries closes on December 15, 2015. Did you know IBPA's Benjamin Franklin Book Awards are regarded as one of the highest national honors in independent and self-publishing? The awards are unique in that entrants receive direct feedback on their submissions. The judging forms are returned to all publishers.
All books published in 2015 are eligible for the current cycle, but your entries must be postmarked by December 15, 2015 to qualify.
There's still time! Enter here
Soft E-book Sales Underscore Down HBG Results
Sales at Hachette Book Group USA fell 4.2% in the third quarter ended September 30, compared to the same period last year. Parent company Lagardere attributed the decline to lower e-book sales and a stronger publication schedule last year. E-book sales accounted for 24% of HBG USA trade sales in the nine month period of 2015, down from 28% in the January-September period of 2014. Read More!
PRH's Weisberg Named President of Macmillan
Don Weisberg is stepping down as president of Penguin Young Readers Group to become president of Macmillan Publishers U.S. He will be succeeded at Penguin by Jen Loja who has been senior v-p and associate publisher of the young readers group. Read more.
An Upstate Press Finds a Local Hit...in France
If you ask someone in Rochester, N.Y., about Open Letter Books, you’re likely to get a blank stare. This has never sat well with Chad Post, the publisher of Open Letter, one of the country’s only presses dedicated to international literature. It’s one of the reasons why Post is using the press’s latest book, a French novel with a surprising local hook, to try and make a splash in his community. Read More!
At the New Zola Books, Focus Is On Tech
“We realized that the Zola we’d first envisioned was too ambitious," founder Joe Regal conceded, "but that we could still diversify retail by making it possible for anyone to sell books." Read on!
Declining E-book Sales Hit Home - Sales of the format dropped at HC, S&S in most-recent quarter
Trade Sales Up in July
July was a good month for the publishing industry’s trade segments, according to sales figures from AAP’s StatShot program. Sales from reporting publishers increased 10.9% in the month, compared to July 2014, in the adult book category. Sales in the children’s/young adult segment rose 11.5%. Read on.
Inspired book displays
As the weather gets colder, few things are more appealing than curling up with a good book. In celebration of this quintessential winter pursuit, we’ve rounded up 15 spaces that feature beautiful, inspired book displays and bookshelves. Click here.
The 80 Best Books Every Man Should Read
An unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published. How many have you read? Click here!
HAVE A GOOD ONE!
A Year of Okra
by Nicki Leone, SIBA
It’s the time of year when people start to look back, assess how the past year has gone, think about the highs and the lows – the goals missed and the goals surpassed. The book industry is no different. Now is the time when “Best of” lists start to proliferate – the Best Books of the past year, the favorite books of the year, the most memorable, most important, most surprising….you get the idea.
SIBA’s own “best of” can be seen in the past year’s set of “Okra Picks” – a list of a dozen books picked for each season, upcoming southern titles booksellers are extra excited about. (“Let’s call them ‘okra picks’ instead of Oprah picks!” said Executive Director Wanda Jewell when she first came up with the idea).
Much like the books on the “Indie Next” list, the idea behind was to highlight the power of independent bookstores to make a book a success, and at the same time bring attention to Southern books that end up “going national” thanks to their initial support from Southern indie bookstores. Here are the books that Southern indie bookstores chose this past year:
Okra Picks for 2015: Winter | Spring | Summer | Fall
So how did they do? Did any of the 2015 Okra Picks become a “success”? Are any of them likely to be on anyone’s “best of 2015” list?
Well, we can say that for the entire year, every weekly Southern Independent Bestseller list featured at least one, and often two or three Okra Pick titles. Some, like Go Set a Watchman, were to be expected. But others, such as Harrison Scott Key’s debut memoir The World’s Largest Man, were evidence of indie bookstore enthusiasm. Some of the books were happy recognition of some familiar names: Tom Piazza (A Free State), Greg Iles (Natchez Burning), Diane Chamberlain (Pretending to Dance), Homer Hickam (Carrying Albert Home). Others introduced us to the newest members of the Southern Literary pantheon: Leonard Pitts, Jr. (Grant Park), T. Geronimo Johnson (Welcome to Braggsville), Brian Panowich (Bull Mountain), James E. McTeer, III (Minnow). There have been more than a few movie rights optioned (Bull Mountain, Serafina and the Black Cloak), and more than a few that have begun to appear on the “Best of” lists for the year from other sources: You’ll find Hester Young’s The Gates of Evangeline on the Best of 2015 according to Publisher’s Weekly.
All of which suggests that if you want to have your finger on the literary pulse of the times (or simply want to stock books that you can count on to sell), then you should be following the Okra Picks – the best of the upcoming southern literature, chosen by the people who would know: Southern Indie Booksellers.
Putting Your Best Square Foot Forward
It used to be a rule that if you carried bargain books you put them in front or toward the front of your bookstore. It was a way of saying thank you to your loyal customers and welcome to your new customers. Impulse sales were created as customers walked through the bargain areas to get everything else they needed. Sidewalk sales in front of main street bookstores were great promotional tools.
Then came the calendars, eating up the bargain book space in the front zones around the cashiers and foyers during the biggest retail months of the year. Then kiosks (if by kiosks we mean gargantuan swaths of real estate that could have been stand-alone stores on their own) to sell Kobos or Nooks or whatever other brain melting tech was being pushed by the media moguls at the moment. The space traditionally used to sell bargain was just about gone, squeezed into small end caps around the security hardware or along the baseboards next to the restrooms. Click here for more.