Opening A Bookstore, Relocating Bookstock

I am writing this from Lynnfield, Mass., where I am preparing for my father’s funeral. He passed away last week, in the middle of my hectic transfer of the contents of one bookstore to another. His death was no surprise; he had been declining for months and barely alive for the last 10 days. Still, I’d have to say that business seems awfully trivial under such circumstances. Operations are on hold back home, but I can report the following about my big move.

Soon to be Circle City Books

Twenty-thousand books, packed tightly, might fit in 500 boxes. But where does one find 500 boxes? For me, buying them is a most disagreeable option; and even if I wanted to pay U-Haul $1.50 each, they don’t have 500 on hand. Your local grocery store, if you get there at the right time, before they crush and bale their boxes, might have 15 or 20. Then there is the liquor store and the drug store. In the end, the best place is the recycling center where every few hours a new supply gets dropped off, cut down flat and left for scavengers to reclaim. Over the course of three days, I assembled an army of 150 boxes, far too few. Perhaps if I had more time I could have collected enough, but I did the best I could.

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Using SKUs to streamline packing and shipping

If you use any type of inventory software, it probably asks you for a SKU or stock-keeping unit for each item.  SKUs are different than the UPC or the ISBN as they are assigned not simply to a specific title but to a specific ITEM.  You can easily have two books with the same IBN… but two different SKUs because one is new and one is used.

Many programs will just generate a general code for it.  However, it may be worth doing custom codes to streamline order pulling and packing.   You can pack a lot of info into those short little codes so as soon as an order comes in from the internet, you know exactly what to do before even touching the book.

First off you need an individual number string to assign to a book. Consider how many books you list per month. If its less than 100, you can use two digits. Less than a thousand, 3 digits, less than 10,000 4 digits and so on.

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What books to stock your bookshop with and what books to avoid

It seems easy enough: find a vacant shop, fill it with bookshelves, fill those shelves with books and start selling books. You’re in business! You’re now a book seller. You also need customers, people willing to buy your books at the price you set. The question arises: what sort of books should I buy and … Read more

Storing & displaying books to keep them in best condition

Book shelves

Storage and display are the bane of the bookseller’s and book collector’s existence.  The more valuable the book and the better the condition it is to start with, the more likely poor display and storage are to damage the book.  Reading copies are already so far gone in condition, they’ll tolerate less than optimal condition with little hit to value.  But a fine first edition with a fine jacket needs special handling.

Books need to be kept somewhere cool and dry.  If you live somewhere humid and hot, this will be the thing you spend the most time fighting. You’ll need air conditioning.

Conversely, somewhere TOO dry can damage bindings. Books are like Goldilocks, they like it in between.

Heat can also damage books as it can cause mold and bacteria to grow on the item.

Direct sunlight can cause the cover to fade or crack.

Storing books packed too tight against another book can cause it to warp around the other book if its taller.  Or it may stick to the other book.  Standing it open to display can cause the spine to warp. Standing it up without any support may cause it to tilt sideways.

Handling can also wear the top and bottom of the spine and dustjacket (if it has one) just from it being pulled on and off the shelf or even when it’s jostled. Books with raised lettering will also have it rub off if they’re too tightly packed or if jostled against other books.

With so much that can go wrong, how SHOULD you store and display your books?

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Stocking Graphic Novels in Your Bookshop

This is the first in a multi-part post through which I hope to introduce the reader’s of this blog to the idea of carrying graphic novels in their store.  Space in a retail shop is limited; inventory is expensive, and there needs to be a reason why any product is carried in a store.  Through these next … Read more

How To Increase Bookstore Sales By Selling Online

By Joe Waynick In today’s economy, independent bookstores are finding it tough to turn a profit. It seems hardly a day goes by without an announcement about another brick and mortar operation going under. That doesn’t have to be your fate. And with a little planning, proper application of off-the-shelf technology, and a bit of … Read more