Opening a Bookstore
Of course, as with any business, the realities of opening a bookstore are a lot more complicated than the dream of bookselling. If you’re considering buying or starting a bookstore, here are some facts about bookselling.
BOOKSELLING IS A RETAIL BUSINESS
For independent booksellers, opening a bookstore business mostly revolves around selling printed books. Like all “bricks and mortar” retailers, successful bookselling requires:
BOOKSELLING TENDS TO BE A LOW-MARGIN BUSINESS
Bookselling profits are generally more slender than many other retail businesses. Some booksellers find that their “ancillary” sales—stationery, tee shirts, mugs, gifts—and, indeed, their café—nets a bigger profit-per-square-foot than the actual book sales. Though many an aspiring bookseller has gotten into the business because of their love of books and reading, love of accounting and finance are great traits for a bookseller to have. Barring possessing those skills him or herself, it’s critical that a bookseller contract out for competent people in that area.
BOOKSELLING IS A COMPETITIVE BUSINESS
Even if you have no nearby competition from other bricks-and-mortar stores, there’s always competition for from the online retailers of both print books and e-books, like Amazon.com, bn.com, the Apple iBookstore, and even many publishers who sell their books directly to the public. In addition to staying abreast of the bestsellers, to stay competitive the independent bookseller needs to keep current on the quickly changing technologies of online ordering, e-reader devices and e-book downloads, and print-on-demand equipment and capabilities.
In addition to the text delivery technologies, staying engaged with social media marketing technologies keeps the bookseller connected to his or her customers. A Facebook page for the bookstore, regular e-newsletters to customers (like the one written by R. J. Julia owner ), and even Twitter streams can be as important for bookseller promotions as traditional book signings and other in-store events.
If all the elements of a retail business excite you, and the idea of working with books brings you joy, then owning a bookstore might be the right career for you. Read about the resources that will be helpful if you’re thinking about opening a bookstore.