How to start a used bookstore

While wandering in New Orleans (for the NSTA conference), I came across a lovely used bookstore (Crescent City Books). Since I am interested in developing a successful business model for Iridescent, I always ask people how they run their businesses and asked the cuddly, old gentlemen behind the counter whether business was booming. Surprisingly one of them launched into this long task-list on how to start and run a bookstore. I share.

  1. Don’t sell your own books; that will just make you unhappy. Go to library sales, yard sales and buy a ton of books. Don’t focus too much on quality. People read all sorts of crap, so dont let your judgement cloud what you buy 🙂
  2. Find a space. It doesn’t have to be on a busy, main street. Booklovers are determined people and will go out of their way to find good books.
  3. Get a good carpenter who will make you good solid shelves. you dont need fancy wood, but you do need to have the shelves raised off the ground by a foot to protect the books from dust.
  4. Buy an eye-catching piece like an antique bookshelf, chandelier or lovely lamp for the entrance, so that people are drawn into the store.
  5. Advertise in the newspaper.
  6. And you are on your way!

They have been in business for 41 years! I am a big fan of the Kindle, but to hold an old book in your hands, smell it, feel the tattered pages, read strange inscriptions, imagine all the people who read it before you – is still something quite lovely and irreplaceable.
Anyway, after that list on how to start a bookstore, I started wondering whether anyone had a task-list on how to start and run a booming education nonprofit. Maybe the list would go somewhat like this:

  1. Find a cause you are passionate about.
  2. Find others who are passionate about the same cause.
  3. Experiment, evaluate and re-assess.
  4. ???????

I guess if I knew what came in step no. 4 and beyond, Iridescent would already be quite famous.

3 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    lovely idea. i am thinking on these lines from few months now.
    already run a book and magazine library, but planning to venture in used book business.
    felt so touched by your post:)

  2. Tara
    Tara says:

    thanks 🙂 yes I have always wanted to start a bookstore too 🙂 and have lovely cozy armchairs and pots of tea and coffee. good luck for your bookstore. where are you going to start it?

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    thank you for this! I was starting to get bummed from all the stuff that I was hearing about Kindles and ebooks taking over the world. I’m glad to know people still like to read the old fashion way.


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