Book Store Owner

Startup Costs: $10,000 - $50,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

Ask the Expert: Dorie Reisman, founder of DylPop's Book Shop

What is the first step to getting started in the book store industry?

The first step would be to do as much research about the book-selling industry as possible. Join the ABA, talk to local book store or online book shop owners.

What are the current trends in owning a book store and what type of person is a great fit to try this?

DylPop’s Book Shop falls into the online book sales industry, a slice of the overall online retail ecosystem. The biggest player in the industry is Amazon, making up about 70 percent of online book sales. But when the pandemic caused book shops around the country to shut down, the industry grew, adding new ecommerce startups like In-person visits to bookstores with your kids was no longer a viable activity option for young families at the start of the pandemic. And today, with vaccines still unavailable for children ages 0-5, many parents are still hesitant to bring their children indoors. Companies like DylPop’s makes it easy for parents to shop for children’s books and promote literacy at-home. 

Related: Want to Be Your Own Boss? Learn How to Launch Your Side Hustle Fast.

How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?

Most booksellers run at a very thin net operating margin. That being said, there are exceptions to the rule and if you can find a way to differentiate your business model, perhaps you can find a way to increase your profit margins. 

What kind of experience/training do you need to have?

If you want to launch a business; if your heart is in it and you’re determined to make it happen, you really don’t need any prior experience or training. You just have to be ready to work hard to make your dream a reality. 

At a high level though, here are the steps I think that are important to get your start-up going: 
conduct market research, write a business plan (with a very realistic budget), find funding, get registered, launch with confidence and tell everyone and anyone who will listen to go check out your shop.

For me, the first step I took was joining the American Booksellers Association. I wanted to reference as many of their educational resources as I could, so I could weigh the pros and cons of starting a business in this industry. Note to those looking to open a brick and mortar bookstore… almost every article I read or reference I spoke with basically shouted “don’t do it.” 

I also knew our shop was going to be mission-driven. So, I researched grassroots charitable partners with community-driven engagement aiming to create societal change. In our case, we wanted a charitable organization that distributed literary materials to underfunded communities around the United States. That’s how I came across Charnaie Gordon and her family’s amazing charity 50 States 50 Books. For every book bundle sold at DylPop’s Book Shop $5 is donated to 50 States 50 Books, Inc. 

Next, we needed a wholesale book distributor, and that required even more research. 

We built out our budget. We budgeted so we could hire great talent to design and build our site, and wanted to be sure the quality of our product (packaging and inserts) were top-notch and special for customers. 

Soon we were on our way to launch… 

Related: Need One-on-One Help? Book a Session with an Entrepreneur Expert.

What do you wish you knew when you were just starting out?

Don’t underestimate start-up costs and don’t overstock your shelves. 

Who are your customers?

DylPop’s Book Shop is a destination for time-strapped adults looking for literary resources to help navigate small and big moments with their little ones. At launch, we anticipated our largest customer base would be parents. But what we have realized since then is that friends of new parents are just as important to us. 

In our first six months, the “Welcome Baby” bundle was our most purchased offering. This book bundle, which is what we would consider essential for jump-starting an in-home children’s library, includes a collection of four of our favorite picture books. Our customer order history and feedback show that this is the perfect newborn gift to send to friends and family members. Our second most popular bundle has been our “Girl Power” bundle. This has been purchased by moms for their own daughters, or by friends and family sending books to someone special. 

Our customer list has grown and will continue to grow through word-of-mouth marketing. We are also using targeted online ads to increase engagement on our website and social media platforms.  

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable to get your business off the ground?

Starting a business, legally, can be confusing. I’d say having a good lawyer who can act as counsel when reviewing government documents and contracts would be your best resource. 

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