8 Pros and Cons of Owning a Bookstore

There’s just something special about being able to sit down with a good book. The words on a page transform the environment into a rich wonderland of characters, mysteries, and adventure. Although the world is changing and books may not be as popular as they once were, there will always be a place for the community bookstore. Here are the key points to consider in the pros and cons of owning a bookstore today.

What Are the Pros of Owning a Bookstore?

1. You get to sell something that people are passionate about.
Not everyone likes to read, but everyone loves a good book. Something that sits down and makes you keep turning pages deep into the night is completely satisfying for everyone. When you own a bookstore, what you’re really doing is owning a retail environment that can do something that is quite rare: provide true happiness.

2. Old books can sell just as well as new books.
Avid readers will always look for a new adventure. Sometimes that comes from a new release. Sometimes, however, it will come from books that are several decades old that are still beloved by many. You can find James Patterson novels next to Charles Dickens in a popular authors section and it is rare for an industry to be able to provide access to the old and the new in such a way.

3. You don’t necessarily get stuck with inventory that won’t sell.
Many publishers have arrangements with bookstores that allow the store to return unsold books that don’t move. This eliminates the need to purchase inventory on the risk that it may not move. Used bookstores don’t have this same luxury, but they also tend to have a little more control over the inventory that gets brought in, so you’re still not stuck with books that don’t sell.

4. You get to encourage knowledge.
There are a lot of jobs in this world that are important, but from a retail perspective this may not always be true. Bookstores are an exception to the rule. When you get to sell the opportunity to learn as a way to earn a living, you’re able to work on improving your community one word at a time. This can be expanded to reading events, writing workshops, and other activities within your store.

What Are the Cons of Owning a Bookstore?

1. There’s a lot of competition on the internet today.
E-commerce mega-stores like Amazon have ebooks for sale at a fraction of the cost of a traditional book. New releases can come in for less than what a paperback costs today at a discounted retail price. This opens up more books to more households, but it also means fewer people might be coming into your store to browse. Why pay $19.99 for a book when you can pay $1.99?

2. The inventory options are often difficult to expand upon.
This is why many bookstores are looking to add coffee shops, wine bars, and other service-related options to encourage more readers to stop on in. You can’t really add much in the way of inventory when you’re selling books. Certain coordinating items, like toys or stuffed animals, can work, but only on a limited basis. That fact ultimately limits your chances to achieve full profitability.

3. It requires a tremendous level of organization.
People browse through books on an alphabetical basis. This means your shelves are constantly being reorganized with incoming inventory because you’re stuck organizing by author name first and then the title name second. If someone puts a book back in the wrong spot, there’s a good chance another customer who wants to buy it won’t be able to find it and wind up leaving frustrated and with money still in their pocket.

4. Retail chains dominate this industry.
Let’s just be honest: the independent bookstore is getting phased out of existence. When even large retail chains are thinking about closing up shop, you know this is a dangerous market to be trying to find a profitable niche. Small communities that don’t have access to a bookstore will want to have one, but even then you’re stuck carving out a niche that may never grow into something that can fully support your needs.

The pros and cons of owning a bookstore show that it can be a rewarding experience, but not always a profitable one. If your community needs a bookstore and you can provide intriguing events to draw customers in so they can browse your shelves, then you may just be able to compete with the online ebook revolution.

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