Sell More Books To Airport Stores

All major airports have at least one bookstore, surrounded by a captive audience of weary travelers looking for something to do to help pass time. What better way while away the hours than by reading a good book? Your book? Apparently many travelers seek that option because “a major store in a large airport will sell between $1 and $2 million of books each year” says Kathleen Willoughby of Bookazine.

Bookstores in most small airports have space constraints limiting the titles they stock to only the top fiction and non-fiction titles as well as the popular classics. But a title does not have to be a bestseller to find its way into the stores in large airports. These shops will carry titles by local and regional authors, as well as books pertaining to its specific locale and destination points. For example, the title Fenway: A Biography in Words and Pictures by Dan Shaughnessy and Stan Grossfeld, can be found in bookstores in Boston’s Logan Airport.

Titles for children tend to do well in these outlets, as do titles for business travelers who spend a good amount of time in airports. Also titles on management, investment, economics, business biography, personal finance and health work well in the airport setting.

Summertime is the peak travel period, and as you would expect, it is also the peak bookselling period. There is a bump in sales in the fourth-quarter holiday season, too. Softcover books seem to sell more units than casebound, and the typical size is 6” x 9”. Your book must have an ISBN, EAN bar code and its price printed on the rear cover, although some exceptions are made for non-book items.

The major airport bookstore chains are listed below, and you can reach buyers for these stores directly. When you submit your material to them, send a complete package with everything they need to make a favorable decision. “The more the better,” says Randy Yarbrough of Anderson News.”

Your package should contain a copy of your book, your terms, a summary marketing plan, reviews, sales history and newspaper articles. Include contact information for your distributor or wholesaler since airport stores place their orders through them, using them as both suppliers and warehousers. Call to learn their specific submission guidelines before sending your package.

HMS Host, Book Buyer; 6600 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD, 20817; 866 467-4671

Paradies Shops operates over 100 airport stores. Contact the National Book Buyer, 5950 Fulton Industrial Boulevard SW, P O Box 43485, Atlanta GA 30336; 404-344-7905; Fax: 404-349-7539.

W.H. Smith operates or owns 255 airport shops and 421 hotel stores under the names of WHSmith, WHSmith Booksellers, Waterstone’s Booksellers, WHSmith and Benjamin Books. In late 2003, The Hudson Group bought 180 airport stores, including a number of Waterstone’s bookstore outlets. Contact the National Book Buyer, 3200 Windy Hill Road #1500 W, Atlanta GA 30339; 770-952-0705; Fax: 770-951-1352.

The buyer will review your material to determine if there is a market for your title. If they deem that your title might be appropriate, you will be asked to complete a vendor questionnaire. Since most books are displayed cover out, the front cover design is critical to the title’s success. Airport stores rarely discount the books, so your list price is important, too. Sales are made on a returnable basis and standard wholesale terms are expected.

Most distributors and wholesalers will sell your books to airport stores. When you send your material to them, describe the number of books per carton and how many units were published. Also include information about who is providing sales, marketing and distribution services on your behalf.

You can generally expect to be paid 50% of the amount due you in 90 days and the balance in 180 days. The 50% unpaid balance is held as a reserve against returns. Once your book “takes off” you can usually negotiate different terms. Bookazine and Anderson News are two of the larger wholesalers to airport stores.

New Vendor Development Coordinator, Bookazine Co., Inc., 75 Hook Road, Bayonne, NJ 07002. Complete submission guidelines for Bookazine may be found at

Anderson News Co. (Knoxville, TN), Purchasing Division; 6016 Brookvale Lane, Ste. 151, Knoxville, TN, 37919; Tel: (865) 584-9765; Fax: (865)584-9400

Brian Jud is the author of Beyond the Bookstore (a Publishers Weekly book) and The Marketing Planning CD. He also wrote the series of booklets, Proven Tips for Publishing Success. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; (800) 562-4357; or visit