I'm sorry I had to miss CIROBE, even more so now that I have heard from a few vendors and customers who were there. According to vendors I heard from, the right buyers were there to make it a very busy show, with only a few tire kickers. Buyers who attended said it was quiet, which is perfect for them, and they found lots of good books to sell for the holidays and beyond.
The show was open early for the remainder wholesalers, then publishers were displaying for the last two days. One buyer told me he would not have gone if it were not for the university presses displaying for the last two days, and he was glad he did. Another buyer said she was able to break up the show into the two parts, doing what she sees as the more important work first. She stayed the entire length of the show, when in previous years she would leave early.
GABBS is coming up in Atlanta in March. They will have, through their partnership with SIBA, lectures and seminars before the show for bargain booksellers as well as all booksellers. They are located in AmericasMart and the show coincides with the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market Show, located in the same facility, which makes it an easy place to explore and buy sidelines.
Trying to convince buyers to go to trade shows is a little like trying to convince shoppers to shop independent booksellers. If a buyer who never goes, or has not gone for many years, does not see the advantages it is hard to convince that buyer without showing them. All I can say is ask the buyers that go year after year. Of course they won't want you to go because they love having a quiet show where they get all the good titles before you see them.