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Selling Books to Airport Shops

The following report is edited from the posts of Brian Boyd, David LeClaire, and Diane Pfeiffer on an online discussion list. It provides a good introduction to selling books and other products to airport shops. The listings have been updated periodically by me.

If you would like to submit a personal report on any aspect of writing, publishing, or marketing a book, please send your request to We would be happy to reproduce other real-life stories or commentary from authors and publishers.

Brian Boyd, who has had plenty of experience with airports, made these comments:

In almost all airports, concessions, be they food or books, are tightly controlled by the local airport commission, which gives the contract to the highest bidder, i.e., who will generate the most dollars from the space they are allotted. For food, they can jack up the prices; for familiar pre-priced products, like books and magazines, it's harder to impose the premium (though some do), so they go after the publisher, trying to get a better discount.

The bids for most airport book concessions are won by a few big players, e.g., Hudson News, Marriott Host, and others. They, in turn, contract with local wholesalers who also have to bid for the business. Margins get sliced slimmer and slimmer.

The opportunity: books that might have special appeal at some airports, such as the gambling books or perhaps local tour guides, are not so widely available at a certain price the public would know, the way bestsellers are, or Time magazine. So encourage the concession owner/supplier to up the price! If your books are pre-priced, sticker over the price. These accounts are looking for margins to meet the high demands of their bids, so they might be willing to work with small publishers who can be flexible.

If you have books that might work, talk to the people at the airport bookstores not about them buying it, but to get the info to follow the thread back to who really makes the buying decision—whether the wholesaler, a regional office, or the main office of HMS Host, etc. When you find the decision-maker, be aware that their primary concerns are margin and salability. If you can offer both, you might have an edge over publishers with better known titles, but no flexibility on cover price.

Major Airport Book Shop Chains

Compass Books, Books Inc., 1501 Vermont Street, San Francisco CA 94107; 415-442-0982, ext.17; Fax: 415-442-1875. Web: Some airport shops in the California region.

HMSHost Corporation, Stuart Carter, 6600 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda MD 20817; 240-694-4893; 866-467-4671, ext. 4331; Fax: 240-694-4790. Email: Web: A division of the Autogrill Group, HMSHost has revenues of $1.6 billion.

They have locations in 71 airports (including Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Little Rock, Lubbock, Memphis, Minneapolis, Ontario CA, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Wichita) and 97 motorway travel plazas. They operate 14 Simply Books bookstores in airports right now.

Hudson Booksellers, Sara Hinckley, Vice President, Book Purchasing and Promotion, 1521 Johnson Ferry Road #250, Marietta GA 30062; 770-998-5032 or 678-560-5960. Email: Web: Lisa Strollo, Senior Vice President, Merchandising; Email: Ed White, Senior Buyer. Justin Hennequant, Marketing Manager and Buyer. Anne Krinkie, Buyer and Sales Analyst.

Now operates 500 newsstands, bookstores, and specialty retail shops in many airports. Their stores had $500 million in sales as of the last fiscal year. Their stores include 400+ Hudson News, CNN Newstands, 66 Hudson Booksellers, Kids Works, Christmas in, Kitchen, Discovery Channel Airport Stores, Roots, Sun Studio, $10 and $15 Boutiques, and other stores. Corporate offices: One Meadowlands Plaza #902, East Rutherford NJ 07073; 201-939-5050; 800-326-7711; Fax: 201-939-1353.

Below are their instructions on sending them info about new books or publishers:

If you want to have your books featured in this chain of 66 airport bookstores, email a sell-sheet with cover image, title details, and publicity plans, and any available sales information to

Or, you can also mail a sell-sheet and/or finished copy of your product with title details, publicity plans, any available sales information, and contact information to Hudson Booksellers, 1521 Johnson Ferry Road #250, Marietta GA 20062; 678-560-5960.

“You will receive a response within four weeks of receipt of the product. Please note that Hudson Booksellers locations are very small. Our selection is focused primarily on current and past bestsellers and classics. Our key categories are fiction, business, and narrative nonfiction. We do carry titles from almost every major category. We do not carry any self-published books, or books published by vanity publishers. We only carry oversized books if they are current bestsellers or local souvenir-type bestsellers.”

If you published your own book, don't present it that way. Present it as coming from your publishing company. For example, my 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, while self-published, is not a self-published book. It is published by Open Horizons.

On the other hand, if your book is published by a POD publisher, you might have a tougher time selling them on stocking your book. Some major booksellers treat POD as worse than self-published. While some POD books merit that designation, many are as good or better than other self-publisher books -- or even books from larger publishers.

Paradies Shops, Allison Brown, National Book Buyer, 5950 Fulton Industrial Boulevard SW, P O Box 43485, Atlanta GA 30336; 404-344-7905; Fax: 404-349-7539. 100+ stores. Email: Web: Vicki Pittard, Senior Book Merchandiser.

Paradies Shop bookstores or newsstands are located at the following airports: Columbus, Nashville, West Palm Beach, Savannah, Columbia, Des Moines, Harlingen, Albany, Tucson, Burbank, Providence, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Midland, Ft. Myers, Islip, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Reno, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Lexington, Washington Dulles, Washington National, Moline, Sacramento, Baton Rouge, Huntsville, Dayton, Minneapolis, Greensboro, Knoxville, New York LaGuardia, John Wayne (Orange County), Portland, Maine, Phoenix, Madison, Detroit, Daytona, Memphis, Ft. Lauderdale, Louisville, Hartford, Colorado Springs (200 newsstands and 12 bookstores in 63 U.S. airports). They recently opened up New York Times branded bookstores. Their 386 current airport stores did $340 million in business last year.

Readerlink Distribution Services, Attn: Marketing Department - New Title Solicitation 1420 Kensington Road #300, Oak Brook IL 60523-2164; 708-547-4400; 800-549-5389. Email: Web: Distribution centers in Salem VA, Romeoville IL, and Freeport Center UT. Satellite offices in Bentonville AR (Walmart) and Minneapolis MN (Target).

ReaderLink is the largest full-service distributor of hardcover, trade and paperback books to 24,000 non-trade channel booksellers in North America, including the biggest names in retail across multiple retail channels (mass merchants, warehouse clubs, department stores, drug stores, grocery stores and others). is now their ebookstore platform (coming soon).

Top 700 Independent Bookstores Data Files — This list started out as 500, then 600, and now over 900 top general bookstores. It includes names of the book buyers and event coordinators, address, phone, fax, email, website, and other information about each bookstore. You will be able to download six different formats (your choice of one or all) as well as an information sheet to let you know what is contained in the various data files (Microsoft Access or Microsoft Excel). Data file download, $40.00.

Copyright © 2016 by book promotion expert John Kremer

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