December can be a slow time for remainder wholesalers. Their customers have been buying for the holiday shopping season since July and most of the large orders are in by the end of October. November is somewhat busy with last minute rush orders and regular business. Most customers are too busy in December to spend time at their desks placing bargain orders.
Those who have the time and staff to plan ahead are waiting to see the results from the first weeks of the official shopping season before they place their reorders or stock up in areas they did not get enough of. Most just wait for the last week of December or first week of January to start buying again. Those year-end or year-beginning orders can be substantial. For bargain wholesalers, January is often one of the best months, if not the best month, of the year.
December is a good time to go over the numbers, revise forecasts, see what the customers are doing, and think about the past year.
I saw many of my customers expand their businesses in 2013, some adding locations and others moving into larger spaces. A few told me their businesses increased by over 100%. Others went quiet and when I called I discovered they were either out of business or going to close soon. Still, overall, this was a good year for bookstores selling bargain. If I had more internet-only customers I might have a better bead on that category, but the few I have were up a bit or flat.
It is glad tidings indeed that more bookstores are attracting more customers and thriving. After all the gloom and doom in the trade press over the last couple of years, as well as some laughable commentary coming from outside the trade, nothing beats talking to booksellers, smiling and nodding and wondering what that was all about. There are new bookstores opening in most markets. If you followed this blog over the last 3 years you know that I always doubted the doubters. People who love to read have a very long way to go before they give up on real books, and the younger the reader the greater the trend.
This is also the time of year I think most about what I could have done better, what I learned, what I hope to accomplish over the next 12 months, and how lucky I am to have my patient, kind customers who stick with me through thick and thin. If I had to pick one area where I need the most improvement it would be focus, and what I will focus on most over the next 12 months is bringing my customers the best books I can find.
Thank you to all of my customers for a great 2013. Here is to 2014, and an even better year of bookselling.