Bookselling in India – Where to Start?

A Question from Rahul:


I am from India and have planned on opening a bookstore in my locality. But I am not aware of the working in the industry. Its more of a passion, I must say.

Can you guide me as to how does the process of Inventory Management works. Whom do you buy the books from – publishers, distributors and how do you approach them.

I know there are many ebook guides available over the internet. But most of them focus on U.S. market and I am sure it will not help me much. So if you can reply to my question, it would be really appreciated.


59 thoughts on “Bookselling in India – Where to Start?”

  1. Hello Rahul,
    Welcome to Indian Booktrade. I am delighted to learn that you are passionate about bookselling. I do need to know where you are located as that would determine the kind of bookshop you may want to start and the kind of inventory you should consider. It is good idea to start off buying from distributors. They would want some deposit before they will agree to supply. Once you establish your credibility, they will come forward to open credit account. Then publishers, big and small, will automatically start approaching you. Please feel free to contact me for more info.

    All the best

    • Dear Mr. Srinivasamurthy,
      My name is Sandhya Reddy. I am originally from Hyderabad,India. I am currently residing in Arizona in United States. I am passionate about books and I would like to share my passion with my fellow Indians in Hyderabad. This would give me a chance to relocate myself to India. I do not know how to go about opening a business or getting permits and licenses for a bookstore/library. My idea is to open it up in an upscale area where I could also collect used books from cusomers to donate to rural libraries. Please, help me in finding out more information on contacting vendors, management strategies, etc…….. As I am completely unaware of Indian market as a matter of fact to the concept of owning my own business. I appreciate your help in this venture.
      With Regards,
      Sandhya Reddy J.

      • dear sandhya i am an engineering grad and also an aspiring entrepreneur,i am very keen in starting up an online book selling site which would specifically come to enormous help of fellow indians.Presently i am doing my research on the way things should go.I am supported by two other friends who share the same passion.I would be very delighted to get ur advise in particular and also share the same passion which in some way binds us.
        waiting for a reply
        the idea of collecting and reselling old or used books a gr88 one and we have plans to include that thing………..

    • that was a nice piece of info , this is exactly what i like about blogs
      sir i have a an interest in setting up an online store but i do not know what my initial boundaries should be ,to start with some zones or have a total nationwide launch which will obviously take time
      and how would the delivery system work? low cost yet efficient

    • Hello,

      I am in NCR area and interested in setting up a good bookstore beyond mere stationery. I am looking for serious guidance on this as i have to learn from cratch.



      • hi vanita
        good to talk to someone having a similar dream.i am really keen to open a bookshop at any place in delhi or ncr.wud luv to know the nuances of this business,basic requirements.can anyone throw light on this?

  2. Hi Rahul,

    It seems that book lovers know no boundaries where the borders of countries are concerned. Don’t be so sure that the U.S./Canadian books on the subject will be of no value to you. There will be some good things in some of them that will be of use although not all of the info will apply.

    You can start for free on this website. To the right, near the bottom is a category list that includes posts on inventory management and marketing ideas.

    Are you going to deal with strictly new books or are you going to deal in used books too? In the U.S. we have what are called ‘yard sales’ and ‘swap meets’ where people bring items they no longer need or want to sell to the public. Books can sometimes be purchased for little and sold for a lot BUT! you have to use some discrepancy or you will end up with stock that nobody wants to buy.

    We also have estate sales where the family of a deceased person sells items they do not want to keep. Often times an entire collection of books can be purchased at a low price.

    Good luck in your endeavors. I’d say you are doing the right thing with asking questions before jumping into the business. To really be successful you will have to be a businessman first and a book lover second.

    Also are you going to be using the Internet to sell books? You will have a worldwide audience if you do…


  3. Hi,

    I am looking at starting a bookshop in Mumbai. Can someone please guide me how to go about starting a book shop in Mumbai. Specifically
    i would like to know where to get the books from, what are the margins, etc.

    Thanks in advance.



  4. Hi Vinod,

    Looks like you will have a bit of homework to do. I’d suggest you run through some of the links to the right. Before you even start you might want to take a few days walking through the neighborhood you plan on setting up shop and talk to people to see if a book store would be viable.

    Another thing you might want to do is to visit some book stores and talk to the owners. Explain your vision and let them bring you down to reality. You need a good business plan to start and without it your store would not prosper.

    Travel a bit from your location to visit stores so you will not be setting up in their territory. They will be more likely to chat with a fellow book lover than a ‘business competitor’.

    All of this is from someone that does not have a bricks and mortar store but simply sells online. You might want to consider used books through the internet.

    K. Srinivasamurthy in the first comment gives some good hints/tips for inventory.

  5. Hi Sri,

    Thanks for your valuable advice.

    Actually i was looking at setting up a online store.

    Can you tell me what goes into setting up one. I want to start
    off small with a minimal yearly budget of 1 L.

    Please advise.



  6. Hi,
    i want to open a bookstore in my locality. Basically i m from Imphal a city in Manipur(india). just give me some guidelines of how to go about it, as a new person in this field

  7. Sir,

    I am planning to publish a book (self-publishing) and I want to sell my book in INDIA How can I contact different book stores and how can I convince them to buy my book?

    will be waiting for your reply….

    Kind Regards

    Anil Bali

  8. I am not a book seller so I do not know anything about setting up a bookshop, online or otherwise. But the little piece of information that I accidentally got is the following.

    I regularly go to a shop in Bangalaore that gives me 20% off on all textbooks, on the MRP. Recently I ordered a book from their shop that was publised by Wharton-Pearson. The MRP on the book was 499.00. When the order arrived from the distributor he had accidentally left the invoice in the book. The invoice price turned out to be 332.00. The margin on the book is about 50% on invoice price. And the guy at the bookshop told me that he wouldn’t be able to give me the usual 20% discount because the margin that he gets on Wharton-Pearson is low. And so he gave me a 10% off. So that should give you some idea of the margins. Hope that helps!

  9. Hello,
    I am from India and am passionate about writing.And I have laready written 3 books dealing with human emotions and dreams and materialism.
    I want to publish and launch my book.
    Kindly guide me.

    • Hello Shaz,
      I am so glad to hear that you are passionate about writing. I am also happy to learn that you have already written three books. Unfortunately, it is very very difficult for an unpublished author to get published.
      You can try sending a synopsis, list of chapters and define the audience and send it to to various publishers for consideration. If anyone respinds positively, you can send them the Mansucript.
      Carefully choose the publishers you plan to approach. You can do an online search and identify those publishers who specialize in your field and approach them. You will find a complete listing of Indian publishers with the Federation of Indian Publishers, Delhi.
      All the best

    • Hi Shaz,

      I can try and help you. Replay to my this post with your email address and we shall take things forward.


  10. Hello folks,
    I’m sorry, I have not logged in or commented for quite some time.
    I will invite your attention to my earlier post.
    There are practically no entry barriers to set up a bookstore in India, except of course the location itslef. But then, that’s the problem plaguing the entire retail sector in India – very expensive location.
    Once you overcome that, the rest is easy.
    The re are quite a number of good distributors who can help each store build a fairly good stock to begin with.
    Once again, let me say that choose the location carefully, then build your inventory and charecter of the store around that. Or else, another alternative will be to decide on a subect or domain to specialise in and then go about building a bookshop around that.
    Share your ideas and I will be quite candid with my comments and suggestions.
    Welcom to the book trade. We need more of you.
    K Srinivasamurthy

    • Hello Mr. K Srinivasamurthy

      I am interested in starting a bookshop. We don’t have a decent bookshop in our city. I like your comment but if u could throw some more light on the whole process it would be much easier for people like me.I m very fond of books and really want to start a bookshop (something like Crosswords) but I don’t have any idea how to go about it. How do one make a plan including budget details?. I have found the right locality and space but how do I build an inventory and how do I know which types of distributors to contact? By the way I live in Guwahati. Thank you

      • Meenakshi – Quite a few answers can be found right here on Bookshop blog. Some of the posts cross international lines (except many legal issues) and some of the questions have been answered in the comments on this posting. As far as which ‘types’ of distributors, naturally it depends on the types of books you plan on selling.

        A search of, – wholesale book distributors India – has 8 million hits but I’m certain the greater majority of those are duplicates of the real number.

        If there are no bookstores in your location try contacting some in India via the internet and ask them who they use.

        Hope this helps.

      • Hello Meenakshi,
        Guwahati sure can do with a good bookshop. I am happy you are contamplating a good bookshop in Guwahati.
        I am not sure if there are any distrbuors in Guwahati. You will find all the distributors in Calcutta. You may contact, Mehras Books Pvt Ltd., India Book House, India Book Distributors in Calcutta.
        All the best

    • hi,
      we want to retire soon and start a book shop(not that old tho’).
      this blog is really helpful.wanted to know how to go about it.
      do we go to distributors directly ? can u help with a list to start out with please ….what are the margins like ?
      we are looking at opening one in hill station .
      maybe a bookshop-cum-cafe
      thanks again

      • Hello,
        I am so happy to learn that you want to start a bookshop post-early-retirement. Wonderful. We need more people like you and as a nation we do need more bookshops.
        I think it’s a great idea to have a cofffee shop attached to the bookshop.
        Please do let me know where you want to locate the prioposed bookshop. This will help me offer some valud ideas and suggestions.
        Thank you
        K Srinivasamurthy

      • We happen to have a very successful bookstore for sale right now. However, we learned, after 5 very profitable stores, you have to make up your mind. DO you want to run a bookstore or a restaurant. Cum cafe is bad news!

  11. Hi,

    I am an aspiring enterprenure. Although i am in a good job with nice position, i am willing to do something that i am passionate about and that is books. I am toying with the idea of setting up a book stores. I plan to expand it. I believe currently in India there are only two major chains.Landmark and Crosswords. I have vision where i would compete with them in next 5 years.

    Now as far as my understanding goes i need to plan location and inventory. Need some guidance on the same. If any one interested to help me pls let me know. Would like to discuss in detail over phone.

    In case any one wanna join me they are most welcome.


    • Hi Rocky,

      Very nice to hear from you.

      i am interested in developing Book shop chains.i am working as a IT guy for past 8 years but my interest are in books.Me too interested in the business even though i don’t know much about business.this is my personal mail id .please contact me when you get time.



      • I have been wanting a to setup a bookshop in Bhubaneswar for long. I can do with a lot of help :-).the first q what is the min capital required.I have lots of ideas –all oriented towards making the reader happy 🙂

        anyone anything mail me
        I intend to start in 18 Months

    • Hi,

      Saw your message regarding your interest to start a book store. Pls post your email ID. I would like to communicate with you on this.

    • Buy the used books these chains are generating. Very few bookstores, large or small, are extremely profitable so don’t go out a buy a Mercedes just yet.

  12. Are there any bookstores in India that stock rare/antiquarian & collectible books? I have scoured the internet but could not find none. Ambitious and even dreamy as it sounds, someday when I relocate back to India, I would like to set up one.

  13. Hello everyone,

    I am a student and looking forward for opening a bookstore in Delhi with an initial capital of 15 lacs.

    Valuable suggestions are welcomed.


  14. hi,
    What are the legal aspects of opening a book store? do we have to register somewhere…or is it as simple as using a spare room in your house to open a store.

    • Easy. Set up an LLC, put some money in its bank account and start building your store. Then, if you make any money it becomes a loan repayment with no taxes involved. There are, or course, local business licenses to obtain. Where you put the store is irrelevant. Just remember location,location, location.

      • Please give me details of starting a bookstore. what all legal aspects involved? What are the procedures? How to locate the distributors?

  15. Hi,

    I am very keen to start book store in baroda, gujarat. Book store is like a CROSSWORD where people can easily find what they want.

    Can anyone please give me an idea @ set up cost ? Where to find a books and publisher ? How to find out which is the running books in market ? What will be the percentage return selling on book ?

    I am very enthusiastic to start my dream book store, my email id is ( its zero seven )


    • Hi,
      I am very happy to hear that you want to start a book shop in Baroda. The city of Baroda, with its tradition of learning, arts & culture and buzling economy can do with more good bookshops.
      Set up costs can be anywhere from a few thousand Rupees to Several crores, depending on the size and location.
      I am not familiar with the city of Baroda, but, one can generalize that real estate is expensive throughout India.

      You will have to take consider, airconditioning, lighting,interiors, computer system and then inventory.
      You can get most books to start a bookshop from some of the good distributors in Mumbai.
      But they will certainly ask for some deposit and gurantees to a newcomer.
      Reasonable return privileges can also be negotiated.
      If you need any more information, please do write.
      Cll the best

      • thank you very much for reply K Srinivasamurthy and useful information you gave.

        Can you please provide a list of books distributor in MUMBAI ? So I can contact them and find out more.

        I am very new in this field and at the moment I m living in Australia and want to relocate with my this dream book store concept.

        Do you have a idea apprx how much inventory cost for bookstore like CROSSWORD ?

        once again thanks for your answer.


  16. Hi

    I love reading books and am keen to open a bookstore with a difference. Something which adds a personal touch to each client who visits the store.
    Can anyone give me an idea on the cost of setting up a bookstore in Gurgaon??
    Creative ideas are welcomed!!!

  17. Hi, i am toying with the idea of running a bookstore in Bandra, Mumbai. What are the different costs involved, licenses etc. Is it easier with a partnership involved? Thanks.

  18. Dear Mr. Murthy,

    Thank you very much for your invaluable comments and suggestions you make through this blog. I invite your kind attention to comment on my quiries also.

    How does the location affect the business?

    Please tell me about the Type or Categories of Readers/Customers?

    The type of books to be in the inventory and how can I decide it?

    How much the initial cost to bring into this to set up – (A minimum of)other than real estate?

    Do I have to make a market survey when it is a small business set-up? If yes, how can I make a market survey?

    How about the franchise option?

    Please write for me and others having the same business idea for getting a crystal clear answer ……. and the points, suggestions, etc. to bear in mind before starting………

    With Warm Regards,

  19. Hi….

    I am planning to open Book store (Books for colleges & school) in Mumbai are.

    Need some basic guidance on where to purchase books, if anybody can suggest any book wholesaler or mfg name who can supply us books on time. As Now a days different school & boards is available. Which books investment is more returnable. What about Margin etc.

    • Hi
      Read your comment and wanted to know if u had any success in opening the book store.  I too am interested in opening one in mumbai and would like to know /share info from you regarding rules ‘n regulations and financial outlay for this business.  Appreciate if you could reply to my email


  20. I am the owner and CEO of http://www.CollegeKart.Com. I could give you more information on setting up an online store, what are the hidden difficulties in the process of procurement, delivery etc..
    Fill out the contact us form on and i will get in touch with you..

  21. Hello all,

    How is everyones bookstore ideas germinating? any further insights people can offer will be helpful.
    Is it better to have franchisee of crosswords or have your own show?
    I am from Mumbai and have about 350 sq feet and 400 sq ft in south bombay(walkeshwar and tardeo) main road touch which i wish to convert to book stores. Is this much place enough? Someone interested in a partnership also do get in touch.

  22. hi,
    this is subhas yadav from mumbai. i am very desperate to start a shop in mumbai,khar east area a book store for students of school and collage….
    dont really know to start from and doesnt have have much ideas can somebody help me out.pls forward all links possible. will be thank ful for any piece of advice for good….thanks pls reply.

    • This is a cut and paste of a previous comment I made on this same posting about starting a book shop. – Some of the other comments have a couple of the answers you are seeking and one even offers to help you set up an online business. –

      Looks like you will have a bit of homework to do. I’d suggest you run through some of the links to the right. Before you even start you might want to take a few days walking through the neighborhood you plan on setting up shop and talk to people to see if a book store would be viable.

      Another thing you might want to do is to visit some book stores and talk to the owners. Explain your vision and let them bring you down to reality. You need a good business plan to start and without it your store would not prosper.

      Travel a bit from your location to visit stores so you will not be setting up in their territory. They will be more likely to chat with a fellow book lover than a ‘business competitor’.

      All of this is from someone that does not have a bricks and mortar store but simply sells online. You might want to consider used books through the internet.

      K. Srinivasamurthy in the first comment gives some good hints/tips for inventory.
      end reprint

  23. hello! i am very much interested in opening a book store in the navi mumbai area! as you know that property rates are really high, and other cost factors being involved, is there a good profit margin selling books?? how much profit percentage are we talking about. would definitely not want to run into debts! HELP! 

  24. Hi,

    Not sure if this thread is still active. I am currently in the US and relocating shortly to Hyderabad,India. Reading is my passion and although I work in the ITindustry opening a bookstore has been my dream. Can you suggest where to begin? If anyone is interested in discussion books please email me- I love English literature( Dickens,Austen etc) and sports.

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