Start a Bookstore in 8 Eye-Opening Steps

5 min read · 12 months ago


Do you want to start a bookstore this year? These eight basic steps will ensure that you successfully launch an indie bookshop that thrives regardless of the ongoing pandemic. 

COVID-19 has reignited book sales. As large portions of the community work from home and choose to stay in more often due to the global pandemic—books are experiencing a revival—and bookstores along with them. Neighborhood bookstores are cashing in by sending books to local buyers.

As an entrepreneur looking for your next business venture, a modern-day bookstore has the potential to make you great returns on your investment. Just make sure that your online delivery services are as strong as your walk-in business. Then, your bookstore will be on it’s way to being pandemic-proof.

Here are eight eye-opening steps that will help you start a bookstore that sells high volumes of books—online and in the real world. Whether you’re local or national, this is the easiest way to begin.


Step #1: Planning and Investment 

The first step involves minimizing your startup costs by consolidating your initial investment

The most direct route to business success is by merging the complexity of starting your new bookstore with the simplicity of an all-in-one business service. The right online service will help you offset the considerable range of costs that eat into your initial investment and operating budget.

  • Get a dashboard to centralize your business efforts.
  • Choose from a variety of tools to accelerate your growth (online and in-store).
  • Have expert advice on-hand to help you at any time.

From saving a small fortune on legal costs to creating an actionable business plan, this is how to start a bookshop business the smart way. 


Step #2: Location and Positioning   

For step two, you’ll want to scout for the best possible location that gets a lot of foot traffic.

In your local area, there will be plenty of potential bookstore locations to choose from. Make sure that you choose a spot that has a lot of passing customers and walk-in traffic. That means conducting demographic research, investigating mall anchor stores, and reviewing analytics data.

  • Explore locations that sell similar products and services to yours.
  • Chat with local real estate agents about locations.
  • Start small to keep your overhead low (you can scale later).

The best bookshop locations are highly visible, accessible, and usually in a mall surrounded by coffee shops and eateries. Avoid new, isolated, or untested areas.


Patron looking at books

Step #3: COVID-19 Protocols

In step 3, build reliable COVID-19 protocols and precautions into your model. 

This pandemic isn’t going anywhere, so it would be a mistake to start a bookstore like we’re still living in pre-coronavirus times. As part of your small business loan, consider COVID-19 emergency training costs for staff, social distancing measures, and hygiene stations. 

  • Get COVID-19 signage created to put your customers at ease.
  • Include a section on your website about how your store is handling the virus.
  • Always have a regular supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand for staff.

When you take COVID-19 protocols seriously, your new customers will feel safe enough to walk around in your store and order your books online. 


Customer buying books

Step #4: Inventory and Payments 

Step 4 is investing in inventory management and a pandemic-friendly POS system.

When you open a bookstore, the most overwhelming thing about it is the sheer number of books on the shelves at any given time. You should keep track of your book sales, special orders, and returns with a system that does the heavy lifting for you and creates data you can convert into more sales. 

  • Track and manage sales with a POS system.
  • Keep your customers and employees safe with contactless card payments.
  • Use your customer data to convert first-time buyers into repeat shoppers.

Use a convenient and easy system to help you get started with real-world and online data so that you can tap into customer marketing insights and correctly manage your inventory. 


Step #5: Track Your Finances  

In step 5, make sure that you’re tracking and monitoring your finances from Day 1.

When you use simple accounting tools to help you understand if your small business investment is paying off, you’re better positioned to make sound business decisions. A finance tracker helps you capture critical financial data so that you can accurately prepare your financial statements. 

  • Simplify the preparation of your revenues and expenses.
  • Put together a clean balance sheet and income statement.
  • Create easy cash flow statements.

When you start a bookstore, you can guarantee that your revenue covers all of your expenses and that you’re making a profit every month. Accounting software helps you make it happen!


Person addressing shipping boxes

Step #6: Grow an Online Shop 

The sixth step is crucial to business agility, and it’s about growing your bookstore online. 

As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to secure your bookstore’s income and growth potential. Knowing how to start a bookstore online is key to this process. When your store location shuts down, your business website sales should take over. That means one needs to be as strong as the other. 

  • Invest in establishing a powerful online presence.
  • Have an online store with amazing delivery options (curbside pickup, local delivery).
  • Use your online store to deliver targeted marketing messages for more sales.

Grow an online bookshop in conjunction with your store location, and you’ll never have to worry about shutdowns again. Keep sales alive, no matter what happens in the real world. 


Step #7: List Your Business   

Step 7 is about becoming visible on a wide range of online directories

If you’re easy to find on search engines and review sites, people will visit your bookstore. A quick way for you to be highly visible is to list your business on the most trafficked business directories. When customers search for bookstores in your area, yours will pop up. 

  • Invest in a single platform that lists you on 70+ different directories.
  • Easily update, maintain, and monitor your listings from one location.
  • Use these listings to drive lots of foot traffic to your bookstore.

Listing your bookshop on Google My Business and many other directories is an excellent marketing tactic for getting customers through your doors. 


Customer checking out

Step #8: Personal Customer Service

For the final step, you’ll focus on creating unique, personalized customer service for your indie customers. 

What sets you apart from titans like Amazon is your personalized service. It’s a key differentiator and one that keeps people coming back for more. Your time investment in making your customers’ bookstore experience memorable will establish your shop as a local favorite.

  • Encourage customers to ask book-related questions via email.
  • Use social media, your blog, and email to give customers book recommendations.
  • Create a community around your love of literature, events, and discussions.

Personal customer service is something your customers can’t get from big brand stores. Readers are especially in-tune with bookstore owners and staff who create experiences for them to enjoy. 

Use these eight eye-opening steps to realize that a successful business in 2020 means conquering trade in-store and online. A new website design and website hosting service are a must-have. 


If you want to start a bookstore with this approach, invest in an all-in-one business service that will walk you through each step of this process. This year’s motto is “consolidate and conquer!”