Book Business Bootcamp: Tips for Starting Your Book Business

We are here presenting an exciting proposition and lifelong dream for some, people who are crazy about literature and reading; How to start your own book business. Remember the nights you buried your head in your books and forgot how time went by? On weekends when others chose to rest, you went about trying new bookstores around the town. For when you curbed your inner desire of owning a bookstore, while you took a sigh sipping your coffee at your favorite corner in the town’s most mesmerizing bookstore, with your favorite book in hand.

If the thought of “How to start a book business” ever crossed your mind and you still wonder, why you couldn’t do it or were maybe illusioned about how to go for it, you are at the right place. Here’s a complete guide on how to start a book business in 2021.

 According to Book Sale Finder’s data, 53 percent of business owners sold books part-time. While many began their businesses semi-retired, some being homebound, others after losing their jobs, or while working other full-time jobs.

What are the pros and cons of a book business?

The enthusiastic nerd in you can earn their part-time income from this easy business which might not be very easy as loving books is! Reality check: if you are choosing to go the entrepreneur way, this might not seem as easy as pie.

 Shalooka Business Guides acknowledges your needs and interests and here we present you a complete guide on how to start a book business. 

While you might not have any previous experience owning a bookstore, that’s completely okay! You need to first determine the Pros and Cons of a book business. These will help you make a choice and invest in it.

Pros of a Book Business

  • As Walt Disney has rightly said, ”There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” Your bookstore will open the doors to thousands of treasures for your readers and will provide an opportunity to encourage knowledge and wisdom.
  • It’s a flexible business since you can put in as much time as you wish. If you can have some initial experience, you can start small and manage things on your own.
  • The book business is quite scalable for the fact demands for new features, products, and services keep increasing.
  • If you are wondering if the book business is profitable, and do book shops make money then yes, they do. Bookstores have a good income potential as the demand for printed books never sways away.
  • You don’t get stuck with inventory that you weren’t able to sell since the bookstores have their arrangements with publishers thus eliminating the risk.

Cons of a Book Business

  • Opening a bookstore isn’t a cakewalk. It requires a tremendous level of organizational skills and zeal to give the customers a good experience.
  • With E-books are paving their way through online platforms, bookstores now have tough competition on the internet.
  • It might become a rewarding experience, but not remain profitable always.
  • Independent bookstores may have a tough time to deal with since retail chains dominate the industry.

What Tools Do You Need to Start a Book Business?

 Before pondering upon how to start a book business, it is pertinent to know the tools and pieces of training required to become a bookseller. Technology comes to be a prerequisite for any small business to flourish.

For a bookseller, managing single-handedly or in a partnership with a team of people, technology will be required. Here’s a list of all the basic requirements-

  • Inventory management application
  • Business accounting software
  • Shopping cart software
  • Anti-virus software
  • Credit-card software
  • POS System

Apart from the tools, you need to first register your business. It’s on you to decide whether you want to operate under sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or Cooperation. After forming a legal entity, register for small business taxes, business insurance and fulfill the legal requirements. 

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  For example, in India the following legal requirements should be taken care of :

If you are also thinking of how to start a book business online, do not forget to build up a website for the same. Get your store added on Google Maps as well.

What are the Basic Setup Costs for a Book Business?

How much money do you need to start a bookstore is the first question that pops out while you plan to open a bookstore. Well, without the knowledge of the set-up costs and expenditures, we definitely cannot move ahead. The total capital required will vary depending on mainly-

  • Infrastructure construction and signage- the first step is to look for a place where you can open up a bookstore
  • Inventory is the most important requirement of the bookstore
  • Rent or lease
  • Café [ if you plan to open one alongside]

The lowest investment to start a book business will be around USD 40,000-60,000. 

How Do You Prepare for Launching a Book Business?

Before calculating the costs and thinking about how to start a book business, one needs to draw a creative business idea. A proper business plan should be drafted keeping in mind the right location, necessary licenses, and permits. 

It requires you to sketch out numerous ideas, visit different types of bookstores, plan how dreamy and real you want your store to look. Should it give the vibe of a library or a calm café where one can peacefully sip their coffee and read a book?

Maybe it’s the aroma and the fragrance of the fresh, unused books that make people forget themselves in this beautiful world of words or the indifferent smell of old books that will keep calling the customers back to your store.

Or maybe, you could have two special items up on your menu along with the drinks that you could serve while you host small aesthetic book discussion gatherings?

From selecting the right collection of books to furnishing and decorating the store to marketing and advertising it’s the process of doing something that will give customers a reason to buy and for you to earn an income.

 Market Research

To get familiar with the going price of the books, learn what the people of the community prefer to read, where the store is to be opened and know what strategies are applied by the competitors in the market, research is very necessary. It should be the first thing a bookseller should proceed after drafting a business plan.

 This will help in forecasting the choice of people and future sales.

   2. Business Name and Logo

Since branding provides a distinguished identity to a business, an unfamiliar name to the business will provide a separate identity to the business. As it’s a bookstore that has to be named, the bookseller should make use of all his brain cells to give it the most creative name

A logo should comply with the brand name and be a visual treat for the customers. It acts as an attractive force towards the customers that drives them into trying the place out.

  3. Niche Selection

 Selecting a particular niche and collecting the right set of books is the next step in the process of how to start a book business. If you are wondering, is book business profitable then to answer it, niche selection should be done carefully and wisely.

 A bookseller should be aware of the types of people visiting their bookstore who are likely to buy and read and this awareness will make the business flourish and bring in gross profits.

Some popular niche in the bookstore market is:

  • Self-help
  • Religion
  • Educational
  • Business
  • Children
  • Health & Fitness
  • Romance
  • Fiction and nonfiction
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After selecting the niches, you need to conduct market research and then

  • Know customer preferences
  • Profitability in the niche
  • Competitors for the same product being sold around
  • Prospects of the products

   4. Target Market

 The target market should be chosen wisely. A target market defines your product and helps choose the correct customer base. A bookseller should know what are the needs of his customer, what people in his ideal market prefer to read and how can you provide your services to them in the most efficient way.

Some booksellers adopt 

  • Hosting book gatherings at their space to get to know readers in their ideal market.
  • Conducting surveys.
  • Word of mouth, a local advertisement can be of help!
  • Social networking can help you to know more about the community you are living in.
  • Distributing flyers and discount coupons around the town.

5. Skillset

  To answer the question, “Do bookshops make money?”, a bookseller should first get familiar with a certain set of skills to make the book business profitable. It also depends on whether it is a sole proprietorship or partnership. If working single-handedly, one should have some top-notch skills to run the business successfully.

 Another way can be hiring certain people who are aware of bookkeeping and are aware of how to use the tools and technology. Certain basic skills one should procure are

  • How to procure inventory
  • How to evaluate and price books
  • The process of listing books
  • Managing the accounts of the store
  • Keep track of the books sold
  • Being updated about the changes in books
  • Fulfill and ship orders on time
  • Tremendous organizational skills 

6. How to Source Raw Materials?

     How do I start my own book business? Where do I get my inventory from? How will I manage to make it a better experience for people? Inventory is the most important part of opening up a book business. You can source your books by a process called product sourcing. A bookseller can process their inventory by getting in contact with 

  • Wholesalers
  • drop shippers
  • Big and small publishers
  • Book sales
  • Flea markets
  • People who wish to sell old books

How to Set Up Your Price Structure?

Setting up a price structure is a very crucial part of entrepreneurship and a budding entrepreneur may find it difficult to set up a perfect price structure for his business. However, this guide on “How to start a Book Business in 2021” covers all the important things that should be taken care of while deciding the price structure.

  • Since a book business won’t have very high margins, and even the people who are interested in buying books won’t bargain much, it is important to keep in mind the customer preferences.
  • The price structure should be set up such that it gives a reason to the visitors of the store to choose it over other stores and online booksellers.
  • However, price structure should also be kept considering the costs your business is bearing, i.e. fixed and variable costs throughout the business.
  • A bookseller should also study the market graphs and the price structures of his competitors in the market.
  • On average, publishers sell books to booksellers at a discount of 40%, which becomes the maximum profit margin. 

Do you Need An Office?

     A physical bookstore will need a location to exist and flourish. Finding the right location is such a task. Phew! It can even be time-consuming sweating you out. But, at the same time, it’s inevitable. For a business to grow and make a profit, one needs to find the right place in the right neighborhood.

You can either look out for commercial space or get into talks with a real estate agent.

Finance Arrangement

Since it might cost around USD 40,000- 60,000 as the startup costs to open up a bookstore, the financial arrangement is one of the hurdles one might have to walk through, to start a book business.

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 A business doesn’t start yielding profits as soon as it has commenced. Finance is required to cover the fixed and the variable costs until their business starts yielding something.

Personal savings through assets, loans, and investments through public and private sources, raising funds through crowdsourcing are some of the options one can explore to arrange finance for their business.

Do You Need to Hire?

Hiring employees depends upon the scale of the business- large scale or small scale.

If the bookseller has skills sufficient to manage the store single-handedly, he doesn’t need to hire any people. This will also be an advantage to him since he can cut costs on expenses like salaries and insurance of the employees.

However, if an entrepreneur wishes to open a full-fledged bookstore or library or a book café, he will require some employees to work under him. The employees must acquire the skill set required to work in a bookstore. 

Both the employer and the employees need to have adept knowledge of the niche they are selling books in. Your skills should be a living testament to your service. 

What could be the Possible Hurdles in the Book Business?

While the answer to the question, ” How to start a book business ” has answered all relevant questions like, ”Is the Book business profitable?”, “How do I start my own book business?” and “How much money do you need to start a bookstore?” but it surely has raised queries about the hurdles one may face during establishing a book business. 

  • You might fail to provide services that satisfy a customer and this can make the process of building a customer base slow.
  • Financial issues can arise during the initial months of the business when it hasn’t been able to earn a good number of margins.
  •  You might even provide the best services in town but still lack to find customers for your products/ services. Faulty marketing and advertising are responsible for such a failure.
  • Your skills might become a hurdle where they might not comply with the needs of your customers and incomplete knowledge may become an obstacle.

However, with your immense love for books, adept knowledge, skills, and your enthusiasm, there’s no hurdle and no crossroads you can’t walk through. Not giving up and being consistent in your work will make you climb up the ladder. The biggest advantage being, you get to encourage education in society through your services and be of help to thousands of people.

Conclusion: How to Start a Book Business in 2021?

The process of starting a book business in 2021 requires as much time and effort as any other business. While you might face some hurdles in arranging the finance and choosing a good location for your store since it is time-consuming. The hard work and time spent is an investment that has good income potential. Once the investment is made selecting the correct niche and target market, is sure to give good returns.

By following the guide on how to start a book business, you will get a complete view of how the process takes place. From drafting a business plan, registering it with a name, selecting an appropriate location, financing for inventory to finally setting up the store and advertising it. All requirements, at a place. 


  1. How much does it cost to open a book business?

Estimated setup costs of opening up a book business range between USD 40,000-60,000.

      2. Does the book business have income potential?

Yes, a book business has quite an income potential, and a bookseller gets to earn a reasonable gross profit.