Thursday, September 6, 2012

Operating and Running Your Bookstore

Primarily, you have to sell books! And other things, perhaps? Part of your business plan should include exactly what you’re going to sell – it has to, because in that plan you have to estimate expenses, cost, margin, profit, and a host of other things. The way to do this, and make that profit, is to sell books.

You can sell new ones or used ones. Or both! New ones are of more interest to some customers, the latest bestsellers for example; but many people like used books, old favorites, classics, and so forth. New books are more expensive to stock and create more paperwork for you, which equals less time to read! They’ll cost you around 40% of the cover price, but you usually have 30 days in which to pay for them. Used books are cheaper for you, and of course you charge your customers less, but the profit margin is higher.

New books are ordered from publishers, or sometimes from authors themselves. Sometimes you pay upfront, sometimes net thirty, and sometimes consignment. Additionally, some distributors have bookstore programs or you can apply to get books from them – this means you can order through them for individual customers, or a book club, or to put on the shelf; this usually includes e-books and audio books too. You can link with distributors, as an affiliate, or sell direct from your own website.

Used books will flood your doorway via customers with trade-ins, people looking to donate and, at night after close – I swear they multiply, all by themselves. I knew we should have kept that Fifty Shades book out of there….

You can also stock book accessories: reading lights, pens, journals, calendars. We also carried bookmarks at the beginning, but many publishers and authors will bring you free ones, so just keep a big basket near the counter and customers can help themselves. A lot of bookstores also carry comics, aka graphic novels, and toys, or puzzles, and things like that. I drew the line at plastic stuff – and toys, period. And no, we don’t carry comics or even magazines. But you could.

You also need a niche, something to make you stand out. For example, we specialize in local authors and even help out some local craftspeople. We have a display of quite a few nature photographs, framed and mounted, by a local photographer; we carry a rack of his notecards. We stock skin care products made by a company in-state, with ingredients they grow and mix themselves. We even have a lady who brings in homemade dog treats!

Make that store yours, make it unique, make it stand out – make it the centerpiece of your community. Host book clubs, groups, meetings, seminars, readings, whatever it takes to bring people in the door.

And this concludes our series on "How to Open Your Own Bookstore." I trust you found it as exciting and wonderful as I have, good people. 

There's more posts being kindled in the fire. Stay tuned, and if you simply can't wait until they are published, I'd welcome your visit to any or all of my other blogs :)

FlashTyme: My creative expression at work in flash fiction stories.
Lots of Crochet Stitches:  One of the best crafts I've ever learned.
Being Catholic:  A way of life, not a religion to hang my hat on...

Until next time then, this is M. J. wishing you every success with your writing!

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution