Amy Thomas, owner of Pegasus Books, with three locations in Berkeley and Oakland, California, has been visiting the London Book Fair since in 1995 in order to bring back an annual customer favorite: British remainders.
It’s not a secret that London Book Fair is a great place to shop for remainders, said Thomas, who also seeks this type of inventory at book fairs in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York. “You just have to really want to do it. It’s a bit of trouble to go to England,” joked Thomas.
Various distributors of remainder books will attend the London Book Fair to meet with booksellers like Thomas, who visits with them to see what can be purchased and brought back to the States. In addition to remainders, Thomas also purchases returns: books that have been sent back to a publisher or vendor unharmed but that can no longer be sold as mint books.
“We have occasionally trekked out to their warehouses,” said Thomas, who noted that she has found interesting items in such small quantities that the vendor didn’t find value in bringing them to the show. “It brings a lot of really cool books to our tables.”
The titles that she brings back range from children’s books to adult and include fiction, nonfiction, and cookbooks, among others. “We love bringing home lots of British history,” she said, “and we find very cool British editions of classic books.”
Remainders make up approximately 10 percent of Pegasus’ inventory, but the British remainders continue to be a favorite among customers. “We have fun with these — we put little Union Jacks all over them,” said Thomas. “People wait for our British books to come. People know to be on the lookout.” Once in the store, the remainders take their places on the remainder tables and alongside used books.
Thomas has been shopping for remainders since she purchased the company, and the former owner had been remainder buying for years before that. “Many of them are books that do very well for us, but not in England,” said Thomas. “We are cherry pickers. We’re looking for really wonderful books that will be a pleasure for our customers to see, and to see them at lower prices.”