By NBF News

Book publishing
Airport fiction is virtually a second nature of the aviation and flight life. Apart from novels, by-the-stand books bought by people, who want to keep themselves busy during flights rake in fortunes for operators of book stores located in the lounges of airports, more than elsewhere. One main factor behind this success is the stream of passengers that pass by the stands daily. This strategic positioning alone makes the business of a book store in the airport one of the most lucrative business ventures at airports.

According to operators, the business is one of the booming ones because a higher percentage of travellers stop by to buy books, as most of them belong to the educated or middle class. In most cases, airport book stores and stands parade foreign and local books on management, politics, leadership, inspirational and motivational books, which appeal to the taste of various categories of the educated elite passing through the airport

A sales officer at Glendora International Nigeria Limited, a bookstore at the departure lounge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Terminal Two, Lagos, Ms. Folashade Adekoya, says the business is a very profitable one because a lot of people passing through the airport stop by at the shop to buy books.

She says politicians, business people, and various categories of educated people in the society stop by at the shop on their way boarding flights to acquire some books.

'Some of these people stop by to buy books worth over N50,000 at times. They come around and select various books with different titles. The good thing about a book store at the airport is that sometimes, ministers, governors, lawmakers, chief executives officers and other categories of top people in the society stop by here to buy books. The airport is a peculiar place because all these important personalities in the society pass through it. They move around while waiting for flights to see book titles they could buy,' she explains.

. 'Most of these upper class people have personal library at home. This is why some of them buy many books at a time,' Adekoya adds.

However, one thing about this business is that the prices of most of the books at the airport are usually higher, almost double those sold in town. The reason, operators say, has to do with the high rate of rents paid there. But Adekoya says most of the customers don't mind this inasmuch as the books are of good quality, with long shelf lives.

For Adekoya, one of the challenge of the business sometimes has to do with locating particular books being requested by clients on the book stands.

On the cost of setting up a book store, Adekoya says a medium-sized shop, attracts rents in millions of naira.

Findings by our correspondent reveal that a small-sized stand in MMA2 costs about N5m in a year. About N1m to N2m must be set aside for stocking the shop. Some of the books at the store, according to Adekoya, cost up to N10,000, while an average book ranges from N2,500 and N5,000.

To the Managing Director of PNC Global Investment, a book stand at the arrival hall of the General Aviation Terminal, MMA, Lagos, Mr. Pat Chiabua, gift giving also drives the business.

He says the airport is a suitable environment for sales of books because thousands of people pass through it everyday, adding that, at least, between 50 and 100 people stop to buy books at the stand everyday. The implication is that the business is lucrative and continuous, he says.

On how they get the book supplies, he notes that book sellers either buy from importers of foreign books or they place orders directly.

Getting a stand or a kiosk at the airport, according to Chiabua, requires a prospective operator approaching the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria with a formal request. But he notes that this is sometimes difficult to come by. However, if deemed qualified, a small scale operator can get a sizeable stand for between N150,000 and N200,000.

Since it is just a small stand and not a big shop as that of Glendora, Chiabua says about N100,000 may be enough to stock the stand as a starter. On the challenge of the business, he notes that, having being in the business for 10 years, the only major challenge is when there is a crisis at the airport or when flights do not operate; business either stops or becomes dull.

Mr. Olaide Oladipo, a sales officer at Kembod Investment, a book stand at the ticketing hall of GAT, says of the over 50 people that stop by at the stand daily, at least 18 actually buy books. He says the stand makes about N60,000 in sales on a daily basis.

According to him, it is easier for people that have background in book selling to start, as they could easily get books under sales-and-return policy, whereby they get books from suppliers or importers without paying. The unsold books are later returned, while discounts are deducted from sold ones, and money remitted.

'The most important thing is to get a space at the airport. Once that is done with about N150,000, a prospective book seller can stock the stand with N100,000. This is because some books can be gotten under sales-and-return policy, if such a person has the background and connection in bookselling' he explains.

'However, what we also do as book sellers in the airport is to support the business with foreign magazines and CDs. They are very lucrative alongside with the foreign books,' he adds.