Taking the Plunge Starting a Bookstore


My name is Adam Bertram and I live in the great state of Indiana in the city of Evansville.  You’d never think that I would become a bookseller or also write for a blog that teaches how to sell books online, but I do.  It’s crazy how you end up in life.  The reason I say that you wouldn’t think that I’d ever become a bookseller is because I grew up a technology geek.  As soon as I was 6 years old (29 now) I was on a computer.  If any of you is familiar with computers of long gone, I started using DOS 2.11 before Windows even existed.  I’ve been employed in one facet of technology or another now for about 12 years and really thought that it was where I wanted to go.  However, like many of you, book selling hooked me and later teaching others how to do the same.

A little over a year ago I was perusing the business and technology books on my shelf and thought to myself that I really don’t read these anymore.  I really should try to get some money out of these.  I toiled around with Amazon’s seller account and finally got an account setup and my first few books on Amazon.  I was putting them all up regardless of price and just hoping to sell one; just one.  Little did I know, they were selling almost as fast as I could list them!  In hindsight, this was probably due to the fact that I was selling huge books for a penny and not really thinking about that little thing we like to call postage cost, but hindsight is 20/20 right?  If I would have actually put them at a price I could have made some money, I doubt I would be where I am today because I would have simply gotten discouraged and quit.  That’s one of my big tips to newcomers, start off with some encouragement!

After I sold about 10 in a day or so, I was automatically hooked.  Shortly after, I attended a local Friends of the Library sale and simply asked what they do with all of their leftover books.  To my surprise, they didn’t have any plans for them!  Without consulting my wife one bit, I agreed to take them all after the sale was done and I believe the shock of my wife’s life came when I said that I was buying 8,000 books for $200.  She said, “Uh, what are we going to do with all of those?”  My reply, “I dunno, we’ll find somewhere.”

Since that first big batch of books which has easily generated me over $10,000, I’ve sold thousands more books on other places besides Amazon such as eBay (which I’m proudly a new power seller now), Abebooks, Alibris, Half, etc.  Using my technology background, I have been able to easily learn the ropes of these online marketplaces and get my books listed with no problems at all.


I now have a small warehouse that I have my inventory in and am looking to generate about $40,000 this year from selling books online.  It’s been so much fun and has sparked so many other interests of mine such as entrepreneurship.  I believe having the responsibility of owning your own business goes a long way and I am loving every bit of it.

Selling books online has allowed my wife of 3 years to stay at home with our 7 month old daughter and for that, I am deeply thankful of books.  She would have never realized that it would be my crazy idea of selling books on the Internet that would allow her just 6 months later to stay at home and be a full time mommy.

I have now recently started a new venture of teaching newcomers to be just as successful as I have selling books online.  I’ve always liked teaching others and since I’d been through all of the hard times trying to find inventory, making contacts, trying to decide what price to sell books at, etc I thought it would be a great chance for me to start a blog and talk about everything I had learned those first few months of really trying to make the business something.

If you’d like to take a look, I write on the blog sellyourbooksonline.com.[now deceased]  I’m so excited about it because it’s so much different actually teaching others how to sell books online than actually selling books online, it keeps things interesting.

6 thoughts on “Taking the Plunge Starting a Bookstore”

  1. I have been selling books online for 7+ years and I know that selling penny books are too hard to make a living. Suppose that you can make $1.00 per book average, you need to sell 40,000 books per year to make it liable. Packing and shipping 40,000 books will make you work your end off, not mention yet how you can acquire so many sellable books.
    The popular books are better sold at a brick-mortar shop.

  2. I agree with the penny books. It’s a shame I have to pass so many books up when I’m going through them though because the Amazon sales rank is so low that I know they’d sell in no time but you’ve got hundreds of copies going for a penny thus making them impossible to sell.

    I’ve made a contact with a used bookstore owner that is near me and he will typically take a lot of the books I can’t sell. He gets a lot of books for his store and I get rid of the penny books that I can’t do anything with. It’s a win-win for both of us.

  3. Great Post Adam.

    I’m 29 and starting a new Christian Bookstore (online) and eventually we hope to start retail in our local community. I have an office already rented out and a small warehouse (only 300 sq feet). My question to you or any other book store owner, how much stuff can we store in a 300 sq feet square space?. Again I don’t plan on carrying 50k titles in 2011 but it’d be nice to have at least 5000 titles.

    Thanks and keep up the great work. I have this site in my favorites and use it often.


  4. hi anyone

    I’ve had a 25 yr old dream of having a bookstore. i dont even know where to start, well i kind of don’t. I have seen two locations, in dahlonega georgia, a small tourist and college town. no other bookstore except a college bookstore (really boring). I dont have financing yet, not even close. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

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