Monday, April 30, 2007

Starting a Bookstore

The 2 largest bookstores in the US are (1)Strand in NYC and (2) Powells in Portland. Both are independent.

There are some things to avoid. Specifically do not try to compete with major chains. The distributors for new books are Baker and Taylor and Ingram. The major book chains as well as big retailers,Sams Club, WalMart etc. can SELL a book cheaper than a small bookstore can BUY it.

If selling used books, do not set up a trade policy where money does NOT change hands; e.g. 2 for 1 trades and similar. The reason is your bookstore inventory will end up with nothing but garbage. People will find books free or for pennies and trade them in on your good inventory. It is desirable to have a trade policy to build/retain customer base but remember your inventory is your livelyhood.

Books are easy to come by, good books are more difficult.A good source of books is at garage and estate sales. If you like that sort of thing it can be fun too.
Pricing a book can be challenging. There are several internet online booksellers where one
can compare prices. It's a lot less work to price books at some percentage of it's cover
price rather than to go through the entire inventory and individually price each book.

To get your "seed" inventory a cheap source is other bookstores that are not going to be in competition. Most book store owners are "book nuts" and hate to throw away a book so as the inventory is culled for duplicates and old inventory the books are often stored. I started a bookstore this way and for a very nominal cost bought this cull inventory as a "shelf filler

A niche market is in "remainders". These are books from a publisher that didn't sell and are new books for pennies.Two or three dollars for a new hardback. Be cautious though because even such a deal isn't if the book won't sell. There are companies that publish catalogs
of these remaindered books. Search internet for more info. "remainder books"

A niche market is also done by individuals with nothing more than a PC and internet access. I had people order a book and specify their return address and enclose a business card to be included in customer shipment. I did this for a while but while legal seemed to me to be wrong so stopped doing it.

A niche market is in collectable books or rare books. There are people who buy and sell these books with no storefront. many books on "books". E.G. books that try to list the valuable books and is beyond this tome. There is a whole market there. The only thing I would mention is that the book condition is extremely important as well as the dust jacket. There are even books on how to identify first editions which can be a problem on older books before standards.

There a certain amount of work involved in cleaning and shelving books and filling internet orders but for a "book nut" this work is more than offset by the vast selection of reading material at hand.