Saturday, March 04, 2006

What is it about books? Many people read them. Many people buy them, but making money selling them is at best a pretty challenging task. A glance at a recent Britblog page, books are the third most popular of members’ interests and writing is sixth. You’d think selling the things would be a doddle. But perhaps the main problem is that probably out of all those who read regularly, none would agree absolutely about favourite authors. Some of the top names – yes. And even someone you think has the same tastes as you can suddenly hit a wrong note and you’re left thinking What did she see in that? Book reading is probably even more of a matter of personal taste than music. Even re-reading the same book twice and you may get more out of it, you may find it fails to chime in that way that made you feel the author was speaking directly to you. And for all the talk about what makes a good book, page turners like Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown still outsell books that have got far more to say and say it better. Is it possible in a small bookshop to have a stock that still takes the serious browsers by surprise, yet still caters for those who want to drop in, buy the latest Ian Rankin and won’t call again for another year?

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:53 PM

    I am new to this blogging thing, so this is actually my very first attempt. I opened a small bookshop called Mr.Books in Tonbridge, Kent about a year ago and you are right it's hard going. If I sell 10 books a day at the moment, I think i've had a good day! Still it beats getting the early train up to London every morning as I did before. The balance for me is running the bookshop, doing some writing work for my local newspaper and organising the Tonbridge Book Fair. It can be pretty lonely in a bookshop on a wet Tuesday morning when you might get two or three customers so the internet is a bit of a saviour. I sell books via abebooks and a bit of ebay also, which tops up the sales. In fact some weeks the sales in Mr. Books shop are beaten by sales on the web. It's all a far cry from working in newspapers in Canary Wharf as I did before but very enjoyable. My only stress now is not having enough money at the end of the week!

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  2. Thanks for the advice Mr Books. The ten books a day does sound grim. We need to shift a bit more than that to break even, but we are hoping to do some web stuff as well (gulp) hope it works. Have you got local competition? And did things pick up for Christmas? Have you actually managed to have a profitable month yet? I'd be very interested to hear more about your experiences, it'd be very valuable.

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