How To Run A Small Bookstore

Reading is learning -- cc by Just_Jane While Derek Dahlsad doesn’t have an direct experience running a bookstore, he does have some great ideas:

Small bookshops, formerly the only place to find books of any merit, have been dwindling over the past twenty years, due to the creation of megabookstores like Barnes & Noble, and online sellers like While I’ve never run a bookstore… here are some of my ideas:

  • Mix used book sales with new book sales. Remember the university bookstore?
  • Own your building. Remember the creaky wooden floors of bookstores from their youth.
  • Magazines are impulse buys; do not devote floorspace to a ‘magazine area’.
  • Do not devote large sales areas to ‘big name’ books, nor technical titles, nor time-sensitive books.
  • 5-foot-tall bookshelves may make space look larger, but a 6-foot-tall bookshelf adds room for many more books in the same floorspace.
  • Events remind people that your store sells books. Events can get your store listed for free in the newspaper: community calendars are often begging for events to list.
  • Store hours can be from 2pm – 11pm. It’s more frustrating for a gainfully-employed person to be turned away at 7:30pm by a bookstore that closed at 7 than it is for the person with their whole day available to come back in a few hours.
  • Have a way for customers to electronically search your inventory on their own, or have this information readily available.
  • Make customer orders simple. Even if all you’re doing is placing the order at and having it ready to be picked up next Monday, customers appreciate the service.
  • See what deals are available with your distributor or individual publishers. Small publishers, who have great difficulty getting their wares in the big venues, may be very willing to do direct negotiation, even if they already have a distributor.
  • Have space available for meetings and clubs. Book clubs are a big deal today, but other groups are also in need of space.
  • Trust employee recommendations, and order books accordingly.

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