The physical bookshop is having a bit of a resurgence. As online shopping, e-books and kids move towards visual media, the number of bookstores decreased dramatically. After all, a few clicks on Amazon and any book your want could be with you the next day.
Yet the book store is a magical place, which still holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Even Amazon is opening physical bookstores again. There’s nothing quite like the feel of a real book.
If you’ve always dreamed of running a bookstore, it is perfectly possible, but you going to have to use a little imagination to carve out your own little piece of booklover’s heaven.
Define your niche
There are too many books out there for you to try and be all things to all people. Decide the type of bookstore you want to be and build your brand around this. You don’t have to specialize in one particular type of book, but you could choose a few such as classics, local history, or children’s books.
If you’re in a town or city that has some well-known local authors, then you can also make a theme of this.
A bookstore is a stock-heavy business. Your money will need to stretch a long way, especially in the beginning. Savings, a cash train loan, or a business loan can help you get set up and keep expenses covered while you build up a business.
Create a promotions calendar
There are a lot of ways to create a full range of promotions throughout the year, both planned and reactive. Alongside the major book launches, look at what movies and TV shows are launching. Are they adapted from novels? If so, promote these and use the momentum from the PR. If the Oscars are approaching, have the biographies of nominated actors, directors, and producers on display.
Is there an election coming up? Place key biographies and textbooks on the display. It’s all about piggybacking on things that people are already interested in.
It’s not all about the books
Why should people buy from you, rather than for a few dollars cheaper online? You need to make it about the experience. There are a number of ways to do this. You could set your store out so that people can sit and read, have refreshments or a snack. Display art from local artists, so that you get more foot traffic into the store.
Book-related events are also a great idea. Hold book signings, themed events, launches, and readings. They don’t have to be huge, well-known authors either to get results.
Sell other products
Don’t just sell books. Encourage people into the store with other, related stock. These can include games, mugs, stationery, and toys.
Display these both externally and in prominent places within the store too.
Hire amazing employees
You need to set yourself apart from other booksellers. If you can’t do it on price, you need to find other ways. By having knowledgeable, friendly staff who can talk authoritatively about books and a range of subjects. Hire people who truly love literature and this will shine through when they interact with people.
If you’re running the store yourself, then try and build up that rapport with people who come into the shop. It really can make all of the difference.
Have a strong online presence
Having a good website and social media presence is key to drumming up interest in your store. Make visually appealing content and don’t just try and sell to people. Start conversations, interact really build a relationship with people. If you’re constantly just promoting sales or similar, people will soon get bored of you and you’ll find yourself made almost invisible by the algorithms that govern social media.
Create a loyalty scheme
It may seem a little old-fashioned, but everyone loves a loyalty scheme. Getting something for free or at a discount is always going to be a great selling point. You don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy systems either. There are inexpensive platforms you can sign up to, or you can even go old school and use a physical stamp every time someone buys a book or other item. It’s a great way to drive repeat business.
There’s still a place in today’s digital world for bookstores. You just have to be smart when you’re setting up your business. Creating an experience rather than focussing solely on selling individual books can help you to become a hub of literature-related activity.