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Successful independent bookstore owner tells secrets of survival


ATLANTA, Ga. – March 6, 2007 – One of the headliners at the educational sessions being presented in conjunction with the Spring Book Show at Atlanta’s World Congress Center on March 23-25 is the co-owner of an independent bookstore that’s been in business for more than 30 years. While many independent bookstore operators have been driven out of business by competition from bookstore chains and big-box discount stores moving into their market, her store has prospered and grown.

She’s Gayle Shanks, a member of the board of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and an independent bookseller herself. She will share her remarkable success story – and a few of the trade secrets that helped her along the way – at a seminar for operators of SIBA member stores.

Shanks and partner Bob Sommer started out in 1974 with a 500-square-foot used bookstore in Tempe, Ariz. Today, the store, Changing Hands, has12,000 square feet and carries new and used books and lots of gift items.

“One of our goals this year is to show used bookstore owners how incorporating remainder books into the mix can bring in new customers and significantly boost profits,” says Spring Book Show founder and organizer Larry May of Knoxville, Tenn. “Used bookstores tend to get a lot of fiction titles, but are weak on nonfiction. Remainders can help them fill out their product line, giving customers another reason to come into the store.”

Sidelines are another enticement for customers, adds May, so Shanks also will be bringing along her rich list of sideline vendors. Her March 23 box lunch seminar will focus on incorporating both used books and remainders into a store, while “Making Your Store More Profitable With Gift Items” will be the topic of her March 24 program.

Shanks will also participate in the popular Resource Roundtable Breakfast, held from 8-10:00 a.m. on March 24. Seasoned SIBA bookseller presenters participating in the roundtable will include Sally Brewster of Park Road Books, Karin Wilson of Page & Palette Bookstore, Kelly Justice of The Fountain Bookstore, Janet Bollum of The Muse Bookshop, Elizabeth Grant-Gibson and Pat Grant of Windows – a bookshop, Nicki Leone of SIBA, and Shanks and Sommer of Changing Hands Bookstore.


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