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Start Your Own Specialist Home Based Bookstore

by Yvonne Russell on August 20th, 2007

Yvonne Russell

By Guest Author - Yvonne Russell

Many people dream of owning a home based bookstore. Can you compete with Amazon? Absolutely! You can find a little corner of the market and make it yours. What you need is a well thought out and well researched point of difference. You may not reach everyone Amazon reaches, but with a specific target market, you have the potential to reach a lot of people other web based or brick and mortar stores don’t.

Check Out the Competition
How? Most large bookstores focus on the latest bestsellers (new releases) plus tried and true standbys (backlist). With your target audience in mind, check out bookstores in your area and online. Say you’re looking for books on adoption, starting a home business or old English sheepdogs. You may find some useful books, but it’s unlikely the range will cover the needs of the true enthusiast in your specialty area. That is the niche you are aiming to service.

Choose a Specialty Area
There may be money in sourcing and selling old car manuals, but if this is not something you know or are passionate about, it’s destined to fail. When choosing a specialty area, consider -

  • - How well is the sector serviced already?
  • - Is it an overcrowded market?
  • - What criteria will you use to measure this?
  • - Can you see a niche or sub niche that is not well serviced?

Let’s use adoption as a hypothetical specialty area. If you have another interest, just adapt the key points to suit your own topic. If adoption is too broad, break it down. You could specialize in resources for parents adopting from overseas, or even from a specific country. Your aim is to find a profitable niche “an inch wide and a mile deep.”

Learning About Bookselling
Join a booksellers’ association. Attend conferences, regional meetings and book trade fairs. Network with other booksellers and other home based business owners. Explore bookstores and bookstore websites. Subscribe to newsletters, especially those in your topic area. Read bookseller and publishing industry blogs. Soak up everything you can.

Immerse yourself in books and the book industry. Research the key publishers in your niche and get their catalogs. For a start, order from just a few major suppliers as there are usually minimum orders. Ask about trading terms and discounts.

Target Markets and Logistics
Who and where is your target market? Will customers visit your home or will you sell only on the web? Will you use Ebay and Amazon to buy and sell? What are the local laws for home businesses?
How Will You Get the Word Out?
I would highly recommend both a website and a business blog for any home based business. Other options for building your brand include -

  • - display at local, state and national trade fairs or events
  • - try to get coverage in your local paper or industry journal
  • - write a newspaper article or column
  • - take on speaking engagements for community groups about your topic
  • - conduct a course (web based or at your community college)
  • - party plan (e.g. for children’s and scrapbooking books)
  • - partner with a complementary business for a special event
  • - tap into existing local, national, international and online networks related to your topic

Regardless of your topic area, the basic principles for starting a specialty home based bookstore are the same. Research it thoroughly. Build on a strong foundation. Look after the money aspect. Identify opportunities. Stay in touch with your customers and build relationships. Run a great business, and your customers can be your strongest advocates.

Yvonne Russell is a freelance writer who blogs at Grow Your Writing Business and at Small Biz Mentor for Know More Media. She has run and sold a number of businesses including an award winning bookstore. She is also the director of The People People, a small training and development business.

Tags: , bookstore, bookstore+home+business, grow+your+writing+business, , , , , , Yvonne+Russell

POSTED IN: Business Blogging, Home Business Opportunities

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