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How to Start a Bookstore Business in the U.S

Vincent Nyoike
Vincent Nyoike American SMEs

Bookstores in the U.S have a large market since many people like reading books during their free time. Also, the presence of many schools adds up to the demand for books. Therefore, starting a bookshop store in the U.S is a profitable venture. You can sell electronic books, audiobooks and magazines. You can start a bookshop in the U.S in major towns or in the outskirts. This is how you can start a profitable bookstore.  

Carryout a Research and Prepare

Before you can launch your bookstore business, it is important you first carry out a feasibility study about the market. You can start by visiting your preferred business location. Check the number of bookshops in the area and the demand for books. Also, seek to know the cost of renting out a store and sum all the costs. Get an estimate of the revenues your business will be generating every month and determine if the business is profitable.

Draft a Bookstore Business Plan

It is easy to draft a business plan after you have carried out a feasibility study. A business plan is a blueprint of a business and it contains startup costs, business location, projected cash flows, business risk and opportunities. Planning your business well before launching it is a critical step that will propel your success in your bookstore.

Read also: How to start a clothing store in the U.S. 

Find a Suitable Bookstore Business Location

The location of your business plays a critical role in its success. As such, you need to find a good business location. A good business location for a bookstore should be an area with high foot traffic and effective for book buying. For instance, you can locate your business near an institution like a college or a university. Colleges and learning institutions have a high demand for books. Students from the learning institutions will be your frequent customers.

Launch your Bookstore and Start Marketing 

Once you have registered your business name and acquired all business licenses, the next thing is to launch your business. When you open doors to customers, the first month you will get relatively few customers. It is because people have not yet known about the existence of your business. Start advertising your business to attract customers.

You can use customer referrals, posters and signage to promote your bookstore. Once people know about the existence of your business, they will start streaming in. Make sure you have a large stock of books to avoid customers coming to look for books you do not have. You need to stock even the books you don’t enjoy reading. Good customer experience will help you to retain customers visiting your bookstore for the first time. With time, you will have a large flow of customers. 

Read also: How to start a coffee shop in the U.S. 

Get Business Licenses and Insurance

You need to ensure that you are operating a legal business. Register your bookstore’s name. If it is a sole proprietorship, you can register it under your name and if it is a partnership, you can register it in the name in the partnership deed. The other thing is to obtain business licenses. Check with your local authorities about the business licenses you need for your bookstore startup. With business licenses and a registered business name, you can get insurance for your business. Insure your business against damages that can be caused by fires, flooding and attempted theft.

Read more: How to register a business in the U.S. 

Cost of Starting a Bookstore in the U.S  

The cost of starting a bookstore in the U.S depends on the business size and location. You can start a small bookstore and grow it as the demand for books increases. You can start a bookstore with $25,000 to cater for rent, sourcing books, furnishing and marketing your bookstore. The following is a rough startup capital breakdown for a bookstore that can help you plan your startup capital. 

  • Monthly rents - $2,000
  • Furnishing - $5,000
  • Operating expenses - $3,000
  • Fixtures - $5,000
  • Books inventory - $7,000

Is a Bookstore Business Profitable in the U.S?

With a good business location, you can reap a lot from a bookstore. You need to set a profit margin of at least 40 percent to make enough revenues to cater for the expenses and make a profit. Also, getting cheaper book suppliers will help you retain high profits. Independent bookstores generate over $600 revenue per day. Consider joining the American Booksellers Association, a non profit making organization that helps independent booksellers to make profits. 

Read also: How to start a gym business in the U.S.

Final Word

To succeed in the bookstore business, you need to be flexible and adapt to changes in the market. When starting a bookstore, the main challenge bookstore owner’s face is determining which books to stock. You can check from online booksellers like Amazon to determine the books in high demand. Also, ask your frequent customers what books they like reading and stock them.