Hidden Gems Among the Remaindered


By Carmen Comment

Before Chicago Sun-Times Books editor Cheryl Reed went away to India, she attended the 16th annual Chicago International Remainder & Overstock Book Exposition, known to one and all in the publishing world as CIROBE. And as Reed discovers after a bookseller has located a copy of her latest book, no author wants to find her book here. “Welcome to the used car lot of the book world or — as I see it — the publishing world’s version of limbo, the waiting ground for books in between bookstore and pulp fire pit,” Reed says. “These books are either overproduced, undersold or their publishers just want to clear their warehouses for newer, flashier models. With stacks piled across the vast expanse underneath the Michigan Avenue Hilton, this is the largest remainder book sales convention in the world.”

But to those like Powell’s bookstore co-owner Brad Jonas, CIROBE is a treasure trove of good stuff, from the early editions of Barack Obama‘s DREAMS FOR MY FATHER – which he bought at 22 cents a copy back in the day – to authors like Terry McMillan or Paul Auster he would never have discovered brand-new. “Remaindered books are given a rebirth,” he said. “It’s a chance for readers to discover authors that they didn’t read when the books first came out.” David Crane, who buys for Columbia Marketing, a London book firm, agrees.”This side of the business is important. this isn’t just selling books cheap. It’s about buying a book at the right price at the right time. This is the futures market for books. Some people are less likely to take a chance with an author at $25 but for $4 they will.”