Selling Books to Airport Shops

Is there an opportunity for your to get you book into the airport bookstores?

Maybe yes – maybe no – but you need to try to be successful!

If this sounds like kind of a non-answer, it might be but then again, it’s probably the most truthful because it doesn’t promise anything other than reality.

Whazzup with these stores?

Airport bookstores get a lot of traffic and as such are a great place to get exposure, and hopefully sales, for your book. It’s that last part, sales, that concerns the stores and the reason why they’re careful about what they shelve.

Remember that like all retailers, they’re selling whatever is in their ‘space’ and they want to turn that inventory as fast and as often as they can. Consequently, they do NOT want to shelve a book that they don’t think will sell. Would you?

What determines if they’ll carry your book?

There are several factors including price, cover appeal, subject, author recognition, timeliness of the topic, current promotion of the book, and most importantly, whether or not the buyer believes it will sell like crazy.

Sure there are always topics that seem to catch the eye and the wallet of the store’s browsers, but there are also a lot of specific interests that appeal to them as well.

Look to the niche market magazines if you want to get an idea of what’s really on the minds of the travelers and consequently, the buyers: computers, cars, food, health, finance, fitness and so on.

Does your book address any of these current hot topics?

If the answer is yes, you’ll be more likely to get the attention (not necessarily the order) of the bookstore buyer.

If the answer is no, you’re going to have to do some creative selling to convince the buyer that your book will sell better and faster than another one that’s in step with the current trends.

Airport Bookstore Realities

Let’s start with the bottom line – profit!

Airport bookstores rely on the concept of a captive market because the airline passengers are somewhat confined in their terminal area but ONLY for a short period of time.

Retail analysts have long known that the longer you can get a potential buyer to stay in a store, the more likely you are to sell them something.

Since airport bookstores don’t have the luxury of having the customers browse for long periods of time, they try to make as much profit as possible and jack up the prices on things like food and drinks (especially since new security regulations prohibit brining your own) but for familiar pre-priced products, like books and magazines, it’s harder to impose price increases, so they go after the publisher, trying to get a better discount by buying in volume for all their locations.

As a self published author who can control your profit margins yourself without worrying about the markup taken by distributors, you are in a position to offer attractive discounts to the stores which will enhance your chances of getting them to take on your book.

You also have the option of putting an increased price sticker over the suggested retail price specifically for these shops. Remember that these stores are looking for margins to meet their dollar per square foot of space demands of their bids, so they might be willing to work with small publishers who can be flexible.

One of the most important things that any retailer looks at is the amount of promotion and notoriety that a product will get outside of their store – and books are no different.

Remember that the ONLY advertising they do is to put the book out in front of the public.

Its appeal (and potential sale) is determined by the traveler seeing the book and either:

  1. Having a curiosity or interest in the topic
  2. Reading a little while standing there and conclude that it’ll make good reading or
  3. They’ve seen or heard about it being promoted somewhere else and figure that this will be a good time to buy and read it.

The bottom line

That’s it – this isn’t rocket science – it’s everyday logic so to be successful with these stores, you’ll have to convince them that they’re going to be the purchase point for a book that’s going to be heavily promoted elsewhere (Like Oprah, maybe?).

No matter what you do, you have to pitch your book to the right people in an organization.

If you think you have a book that they might want to carry, contact the bookstore(s) in the airport to get the info about who makes the buying decision—whether it’s the wholesaler, a regional office, or the main office of their company.

When you find the decision-maker, send them the materials as outlined below always being aware that they don’t care about the topic of your book and are only concerned with the profit margin and salability.

If you can convince them that they’ll achieve both, you might get their attention and sell a whole bunch of books.

Some Major Airport Book Shop Chains

Anderson News, 6016 Brookvale Lane #151, Knoxville TN 37919; 865-584-9765; 800-390-1543; Fax: 865-450-3159. Web: Purchasing Department email form:

Compass Books, Kim Soboleski, 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.

Delstar, 5060 North 40th Street #200, Phoenix AZ 85018-2144; 602-956-9600; Fax: 602-956-9700. Email: Web: Operates gift stores in the Phoenix, Arizona Sky Harbor airport as well as a number of resorts. Stores include Pueblo Spirit (Native American gift shops), See’s Candies, Bowser Wowser (pet gifts), The News Store, and more.

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 E-Publishing for the Clueless®, while self-published, is not a self-published book. It is published by CPM Systems.

On the other hand, if your book is published by a POD (Print On Demand) 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 as 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.

What’s a Sell Sheet?

A sell sheet is usually a one to two page flyer or brochure that includes information about your upcoming book that you can mail to bookstores, book conferences or conventions, or include with a press kit.

Sales sheets are generally 8 1/2” x 11” and single or double-sided, and can be printed in black and white or in full 4-color process.

They’re like a birth announcement that tells of the arrival of your new book along with all of the specifics about the book and how it can be purchased.

It’s a great promotional tool, and low cost to design and copy oneself.

You can design your own using programs like Microsoft Publisher® or Word® but remember to keep it basically simple and attractive.

Too much information crammed on a page can be overwhelming. Besides, there are a few rules you should follow:

  • Put the title in bold letters at the top of the page.
  • Include a small photo of your book jacket and of course, one of you, the author.
  • Include all information necessary for anyone to find your book: author name, title, ISBN number, publisher, and date of release.
  • You also need to include they type of format, i.e., trade paperback, mass paperback, hardcover, e-book, etc. Include the publication date, page count, book dimensions and price.
  • List the locations where the book will be available, whether only on-line or both on-line and on shelves near you.
  • Include a very brief summary of the book’s contents.
  • If you have obtained favorable reviews, by all means include a few.
  • Last but not least, a sentence or two about yourself that will fit nicely near your author photo.

Color still sells better than black and white so if you want your book cover and photo to stand out, print them on your color printer or take the master to a copy center and have them reproduce them in color.

Remember, this simple document has a purpose, and that is to interest a third party in your book.

Make it dignified, yet add your own personality to the piece and try to tie in the design and format into the theme of your book, using appropriate colors and fonts.

Ideally, you should limit your sell sheet to one page, so you need to plan carefully. But in the end, your time and effort and attention to detail will pay off.

Mike Rounds

Rounds, Miller and Associates

6318 Ridgepath Court

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275


“Once a Lieutenant, ALWAYS a Marine”

Semper Fi



Filed under Of interst to authors

4 responses to “Selling Books to Airport Shops

  1. Hi there, I hopped over to this site from reddit. It is not an article I would normally read, but I loved your perspective on it. Thanks for making a blog post worth reading!

  2. Very helpful info…
    Hoping to place copies of The Apostasy of a High Priest by Park B. Romney in airport bookstores. See for details.

  3. Thanks so much for posting the information! I will definitely be using your techniques to promote my new book. . I truly appreciate your insight because this was EXACTLY what I was looking for!

  4. Thank you for this information. Writing my book was easy, selling it is the real challenge! Be well.

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