For those of us with a passion for good literature, owning a bookstore seems like a dream job. Independent booksellers play an important part in their communities, encouraging the discovery of the pleasures of reading in adults and ensuring that more than a few children become lifelong readers to boot.
But naturally, as it is with any business, the realities of opening your very own bookstore can be far more complicated than you imagine. Booksellers are retail businesses involving selling print books and, like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, there are several important factors for you to consider before you open yours.
Location, Location, Location
Ideally, you want your store to be situated where you’ll be able to take advantage of a lot of foot traffic. But the better your location, the more expensive the rental will be per square foot, so you’ll need to do some careful consideration before taking up your new space.
You May Need to Work Long Hours
Another vital element of a successful bookseller is its operating environment. Customers increasingly expect stores to be open to them as and when they need them to be, which means you’re facing the likelihood of late nights, working weekends, and waving goodbye to public holidays.
Capable Staff is a Non-Negotiable
Successful bookshops rely heavily on their employees to engage with potential customers and turn them into loyal consumers. That means you’ll need to spend a considerable amount of time recruiting and training personable, knowledgeable people who are as passionate about the industry as you are and aren’t afraid to work hard.
The ultimate goal is to keep your staff interested and engaged in their job so you can retain their services over the long term. People love seeing familiar faces when they’re out browsing for something new to read, and high employee turnover will only negatively affect your brand.
Effectual Book Buying and Inventory Management
As enjoyable as buying new books every season may be, it’s also a lot of work!
You’ll need to review lists from publishers for the hottest up-and-coming new authors’ work, make judgment calls on books you’ve never read, and get the right mix of titles across a broad range of genres to cater to a good selection of readers’ tastes.
Even small stores can stock different products in their thousands, and they will all need to be effectively analyzed for a Sales Rate of Movement, for example.
This is the only way to maximize the appeal of your book selection and keep stock ticking over at an effective rate. You’ll also need to manage shrinkage, since shoplifting is a reality, and be aware that toting heavy cartons of books around and getting them up on the shelves is hard work.
This is why it’s helpful to recruit employees that are physically hardy and capable of handling the long hours with the physical labor requirements of this job.