Being a discount book retailer during the growth in E-reader sales isn’t the Achilles heel you might expect as I discovered when I met Tim Boon and the team at Boon Books. E-reader sales have peaked and the sale of E-books is in decline, with people going back to traditional books.
Book clubs and book cafes are becoming ever more popular and if you can think of a subject, there’s likely to be a book on it and Boon Books may well stock it. With over 7,000 titles across hundreds of different subject matters, whatever you sell on the market there are probably a number of associated books.
Books as a supplementary line
Many traders don’t think of books as a secondary line, but not only do they make popular gifts, they can bring new customers to your stall. Take for example the success of TV shows like The Great British Sewing Bee and Make Do and Mend, crafting has become increasingly popular and haberdashery traders are doing well from this surge of interest. But if you’re new to the hobby and want to have a go, to be able to go to a market, pick up a book on say soft furnishings and then purchase the fabric, buttons, stuffing, zip etc all at the same time from the same place, would make perfect sense. Boon Books have recently increased their crafting titles this year and cover a variety of topics, including knitting, quilting, sewing, beading and carding to name but a few.
They also have a huge range of children’s titles, from storybooks to activity books as well as educational and behavioural titles and a selection of these could be easily stocked alongside children’s toys or clothes. They are also introducing a range of 300 piece jigsaw puzzles that cover Birmingham, London, Scotland, Yorkshire and Northumberland – a great gift idea and would be particularly popular in the local towns and cities that benefit from a busy tourist trade.
This is also true of the range of history books and local area titles which is one of Boon’s specialities. Tim told me they are particularly strong in this field and believes they have the biggest range in the country. I was surprised by the amount available at their warehouse in Heywards Heath. These include old pictorial accounts of the area, guide books, maps, places of interest, walking guides, historical reviews and even ghost stories of the area. To make purchasing easier, these are all conveniently categorised by county. I believe that they would prove popular with both locals and tourists, sitting well alongside local products such as crafts, paintings, photographs or produce.
For greetings card retailers, Boon’s have a good supplementary range of stationery items, including postcards, labels, jotters, note cards, diaries, address books and wrapping paper as well as an extensive selection of puzzle books from crosswords to Sudoku, to wordsearch and arrowords. Additionally they stock small gift books aimed at family members and special occasions so whether your customer is celebrating a birth, wedding or birthday, there’s a complementary book packed full of quirky quotes.
Inspirational quotes are particularly popular with young women thanks to a massive surge in posts of this kind on social media. I’ve seen a rise in a number of stalls selling plaques and other items with funny and serious messages on. Boon have quite a selection of spiritual and self help gift books that would work well alongside these.
Whether you are selling fresh produce where cookery books could help, or pet products where a book on keeping fish could be added to a bowl and food purchase, Boon Books may well be worth considering to help you boost sales.
About Boon Books
Based in Haywards Heath in West Sussex, the proprietor, Tim Boon has over forty years in the trade and twenty as a retailer, having sold in shops – both his own and for others, independent and chain stores; book fairs and markets. Boon Books purchase over-stocked books, sometimes referred to as remainders which are often direct from the publisher.
These books are not seconds, they are brand new books that have had their allocated sale slot and are being sold off to free up valuable warehouse space. They are also not limited to paperbacks and cover a wide range of genres including fiction and nonfiction, children’s and hobby titles.
Setting up an account is easy and quick, you simply register online at www.boonbooks.com to see their extensive list of titles. You can search by genre, title, author, publisher or ISBN number. Where Boon Books have the edge over some of the other discounted book retailers is that, according to Tim, they offer one of the cheapest minimum order rates at just £60. There is no VAT added and the price includes free delivery to mainland UK. Books come boxed and orders are usually turned around within three working days, depending on size of order and peak times, with all boxes sent UK next day delivery.
They accept credit cards; alternatively a thirty day credit account can be set up once your credit suitability has been established. This will usually involve a proforma invoice being raised for your first couple of orders.
Another of the advantages of the online system is that you can start to fill a shopping basket and if you have to log out because you were busy, it will remember them next time you log in and will only be deleted once you have placed your order. All the titles are on the website, which is updated twice a week and a new system is imminent which will show live stock levels. In the future, they also hope to introduce a system which tracks customers’ favourites so that should new books become available in the same style as previous orders, they can notify them.
Only available from their online service is Boon’s ‘build your own pallet’ service. This is a separate list of titles that traders can purchase from, with books priced at just 20p. There is a minimum order value of £200 and because of the volume of books involved, from a picking perspective, you must order a minimum of five books of each selected but you can mix genres as much as you wish. These are ideal ‘stack them high, sell them cheap’ books and would suit book retailers specifically.
For those of you, like me, who likes to see and feel books, customers are actively encouraged to visit their warehouses at Haywards Heath and Ditchling Common. I could quite happily have been locked in for several days, providing I was given food and water! At Haywards Heath there are nine ‘rooms’ filled with books and they are well displayed and categorised for ease of picking and two large warehouses full at the other site. There is always someone on hand to help you fill your trolley and they even throw in a cup of tea! If that hasn’t convinced you, they also give you ten percent discount off your order for picking your own.
There are currently ten employees at Boon Books and there is a really relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The operation is professional and efficient and they are always looking at ways to improve the customer experience. It won’t be long before you need to start thinking about Christmas, why not add books to your list of things to try this year?