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Author Topic: I want to open a bookstore  (Read 10953 times)

zinia75

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I want to open a bookstore
« on: July 31, 2006, 12:53:18 PM »
Hello All:
well i got inspired by all this talk about our lacking a literary outlet in the hood & am trying to convince a friend to help me open a bookstore.  As future clients I would appreciate any and all advice you have to offer, ie.:
What do you like to read?
Do you think there's a client group for texts in Spanish?
What do you look for in a bookstore?
or if you interested in getting involved shoot me an email as well.  i'm very seriously trying to put this  together & am giving myself the next 6 months to get it off the ground.  location suggestions are also welcome.
-M

flooz

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2006, 01:15:53 PM »
You get today's "go get em" award! I hoped that eventually someone would take the bull by the horns and go for it, and here you are. I'm sure that the majority of us here will be behind you 100% with this and i for one would love to help out in whatever way i can. I'm not a very organized or put together person so having someone in charge is good- i take orders well  :-D
• I do think there is a Spanish niche here but i'm not sure what the trend is on foreign language bookselling.
• I look for a comfy place and an eclectic variety of books with the option of ordering the harder to come by titles. A little lounge/cafe corner would be nice too (depending on size)

good luck! i'll be keeping an eye on this thread

Offline jayme

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2006, 01:29:58 PM »
I would love a bookstore cafe with seating (lounging) and wifi.  Ideally iced coffee too!  That might be a bit over the top but a cafe may help to offset the cost.

And a little bit of music would be wonderful (cds, records, etc).

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Offline mcdirk

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2006, 12:21:35 AM »
I hope you would have a good science fiction and fantasy section.

Offline cabanird

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2006, 12:29:45 AM »
i would like a nice loungy kind of area.

i would also like to see 'community' like events. book groups/ discussions.
story time for kids and families.
poetry! and poetry events. poetry readings. poetry slam.

writer's groups.

books by astorian writers. books about astoria. books about queens. books about history of queens and astoria. books about astorians.

i'm a little loopy. sorry.

good luck with it, and please keep us posted. i'm glad you are exploring this!!!

Rosemary
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Offline merm

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2006, 08:44:05 AM »
I think that you want to get as many people as possible using you to purchase books. You may want to come up with some way that people can reserve or request a book online, and then pick it up once the order for their book comes in. If your prices are reasonable I don't see why people wouldn't want to support a local place.

You might also want to offer the option of selling books back to the store at half price or something.

Running a small bookstore these days isn't easy, I wish you all the best!

Offline mirki2

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2006, 09:33:42 AM »
another option, which is how an acquaintance of mine started his local bookshop after college, is this: 
tap into the student population of Astoria, figure out what books they need and see if you can get a used book and at cost trade going in addition to the other stuff...
although you won't necessarily make money at first this way, it's a great way to build a market :)
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Offline mcdirk

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2006, 10:06:12 AM »
Whereabouts in Astoria are you looking for space?  You're going to want something on a major commercial strip, or right off it, and close to the trains, if possible, so people can stop in on their way home.

Offline goldfish boy

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2006, 11:10:25 AM »
If you want ideas, a good field trip would be to Bookcourt on Court Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.  No coffee lounge :( or wifi, but it's an excellent independent bookstore, and they seemingly pack a Barnes & Noble-ful of books into a much smaller space without feeling cramped.
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attila the hun

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2006, 10:04:38 AM »
Good luck, but I would be very, very cautious on this.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.  The American Booksellers Association, the primary trade organization for independant bookstores, had 5000+ members about 10 years ago.  That number has dropped to about 1700 members today.

Finances for bookstores are tough.  For inventory alone you will need to be spend a lot of money.  As an example, most general bookstores try to turn their inventory twice a year.  This means that if you have $1 million in sales per year, you will need to have $500,000 in inventory at any given time to sustain this.

That $500K (at retail) will cost you approx $300K (at wholesale), and most publishers and wholesale companies will only extend 30-60 days of credit.  The back-of-the-envelope calculation means that you will be able to float $100K (at cost) of inventory on publishers credit (assuming an inventory turn of 2, $1 million in annual sales, and 60 day credit for all of your inventory), but the other $200K (at cost) of inventory will need to be paid for before you sell it.  In other words, out of your pocket. 

This is just the inventory cost.  You will also need to pay for real estate, wages, fixtures, cash registers/computers, advertising, legal fees, etc.

Mirki2's suggestions are more suited to a college bookstore business model.   I do not htink that this is what you are thinking about, but it is also not terribly suitable to Astoria, as there is no easy way to connect with the student population as a whole, and any students in the area will be attending a number of different institutions.  Plus, the college bookstore market is highly seasonal and operates on much lower gross margins than trade bookstores.

Offline mirki2

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2006, 10:09:41 AM »
Mirki2's suggestions are more suited to a college bookstore business model.   I do not htink that this is what you are thinking about, but it is also not terribly suitable to Astoria, as there is no easy way to connect with the student population as a whole, and any students in the area will be attending a number of different institutions.  Plus, the college bookstore market is highly seasonal and operates on much lower gross margins than trade bookstores.

Hi Atila, obviously you know your stuff 100 times more than I do because I was never in the retail business not bookstores nor anything else... the assumption my acquaintance back in Santa Cruz operated on when he started his store was that many students stay in the Santa Cruz area even after they finish school. 10 years later, he's still in business. It was my feeling with Astoria that it's not as transient as other hoods because people seem to like it here, hence the suggestion, but I of course could be wrong about this....
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attila the hun

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2006, 10:27:56 AM »
No problem.

University towns are generally good places for bookstores.  When I read your original post, it sounded like you were talking about textbooks.  This is a viable business in and of itself, but it has an entirely different set of dynamics from a trade book store which is what the OP was talking about (I think).  As Astoria does not have a sizable university/college (like UC-Santa Cruz), a student bookstore would simply not work. 

Now, a used bookstore in general might.  The con to this is that pretty much all of your inventory must be paid for up front, and your selection will vary depending on what is available to be purchased.  But, margins are generally pretty high, as you are purchasing the books at 10% of cover price (approx), and selling them at 50% of cover price (again, approx).  This gives you an 80% gross margin on inventory. 

Once a used store is up and running, you can start to obtain inventory from your customers, paying them in store credit to be used on future purchases.  This will help ensure a steady supply of 'new' inventory, plus a steady supply of returning customers who want to use their credits

People browsing in used bookstores are generally more tolerant of dated/utilitarian fixtures (look at the Strand compared to B&N for an example), so one would save $ in the initial setup process of the business.

I am not sure what an industry average inventory turn might be on used books though, and acquiring your initial inventory might be tough.


Offline mcdirk

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2006, 10:31:12 AM »
Even a good used bookstore would be preferable to Seaburn.  I took two friends who work in publishing on a walking tour in Astoria recently and they wanted to check it out.  They were shocked and horrified by the selection - I found their reaction very interesting, but none of us can figure out how they decide to order what they order.  A nice used bookstore would be a welcome addition to Astoria.

Offline megc

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2006, 10:32:01 AM »
I wonder how a cooperatively owned bookstore would do here?

Offline JoePocky

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Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2006, 10:34:19 AM »
Hello All:
well i got inspired by all this talk about our lacking a literary outlet in the hood & am trying to convince a friend to help me open a bookstore.  As future clients I would appreciate any and all advice you have to offer, ie.:
What do you like to read?
Do you think there's a client group for texts in Spanish?
What do you look for in a bookstore?
or if you interested in getting involved shoot me an email as well.  i'm very seriously trying to put this  together & am giving myself the next 6 months to get it off the ground.  location suggestions are also welcome.
-M

As far as bookstores are concerned, I definitely look for ones that offer something extra - like an internet cafe (which would also help bring in $$$) or something along those lines. One thing I don't like about Seaburn is that it has a salvation army sort of feel...its not very comfortable and I find myself walking in and out rather than staying and hanging out for a while.

One smart move would be tapping into the performing arts genre as there are a lot of actors/dancers/performers living in Astoria with no where to buy plays and other industry books except for Drama Book Shop on 40th St in Manhattan.

I think opening up a book store with a major focus on the arts in Astoria would be a gold mine... Steinway Street would be ideal but rent??? Probably astronomical.
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Astorians

Re: I want to open a bookstore
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2006, 10:34:19 AM »

 

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