The Current State Of Book Stores
Have you read or heard anything about bookstores lately? Well, then please comment on what you heard because we might’ve heard the same thing.
As time continues to progress, technology continues to advance. Generally speaking, and as all things do, it will have its benefits and its drawbacks. We may be able to do things more efficiently but may end up sacrificing part of our human experience and interactions. Some industry’s will boom and others will decline.
Book stores, unfortunately, are already taking a big hit.
Books started becoming digitally available in the mid-late 1900s and are evolving and progressing more and more. And as they progress, not only do I wonder, but many wondered and still wonder how these digital books will affect the operations (selling, buying, marketing, writing, etc.) of physical books and bookstores. Manuscripts of unpublished works are an example of this. More and more digital manuscripts (typed word) are being preferred as opposed to handwritten manuscripts. By writers and agents and publishers. It is of course, easier to erase mistakes when writing, and easier to read and edit.
Imagine how that changed the marketing operation of businesses that specializes in paper, pen, pencils, and stationery items over the years.
Evolving Not Declining
Bookstores were inevitably going to experience some sort of (initial) decline before the industry fully adapted to the digital age and its advancements. However, the Corona Virus aka Covid-19 accelerated this decline. Many book stores around the world are going out of business or are not doing so well. Especially book stores that follow a more traditional model.
And this is the news that has increasingly and recently gotten more attention. Have you heard about it?
But instead of a decline, this is the perfect opportunity for book stores to make their comeback. But it may require a little evolving unless all the internet and technology suddenly fails. Book stores don’t have to stop being book stores or go all-digital, because technology is not 100% reliable. But staying relevant amongst all of today’s technology requires upgrading, whatever that means that means for your store.
Now this decline may not be the case for all bookstores, but many are taking this hit.
A Different Audience
If you read books for entertainment or education you’ve probably been to a book store; These kinds of people are the main kinds of people that visit bookstores. Today I suggest that bookstores find ways to serve different kinds of people. One way to do so is by staying within the arts and media industry. Or dabbling outside of it.
And I mean a little more than offering computers as public libraries, and internet cafes do or offering records or CDs (most people are listening to music digitally but this may work if you have some rare records and sell near records collectors).
But including music, print, broadcasting, and internet media in a way that people now need. I keep this section vague because your bookstores are all over different places and to know what people need around your books store, you’ll need to do some research and work to find out how to cater to your specific audience. And through this research, you can find unique ways to reach your audience.
More people may be ‘reading books’ nowadays, just not in the way you may immediately think. But if your idea tank is dry keep reading.
A Book Store That’s Not Really A Book Store
My first idea is by operating like a bookstore that’s not a book store. I have two ideas for this.
- Dont’ start with books, let something else do all the talking
Customers and visitors don’t have to know that book sales are your number one goal and one of your primary purposes. You can lead with something else and then guide your customers towards book sales.
Today it is becoming popular for people to gravitate towards aesthetic-looking stores and shops. In these cases, the look of the store is what may initially attract a customer before they even know or register that it’s a bookstore they’ve just walked into. Once that customer comes in or inquires about the design find the best strategy that ensures they make a sale.
Another way to go about this is through services. Maybe you have a knack for designing really special bookshelves. Designing bookshelves can be a service that your bookstore offers, that helps you build and retain customers.
These are examples not for all of you reading to mimic exactly but to show how you can find something that you & your books stores can offer that’ll act as appetizers to the main course (something to bring in customers, their money, and their interest without them knowing that your primary goal or one of your primary goals is to sell books). This is not an excuse/advice to be dishonest in your business. But another strategy for you to sell your merchandise.
- Partner with other businesses or people that you can provide books or services for in exchange for sales and customers.
- Go online and find your way to stand out.
- Make customer experince just as dazzaling as the books bought. (make your customers want to buy from your store just because of the expeirence they’ll have and service they’ll recieve).
- Sell something other than books. Like bread to butter, pair your books with items that prompt readers to buy an irrisistabe duo or trio or package.
- As global warmiing awarness spreads people are recylcing and remaking their own papers. See if that business idea fits into your store.
- Host events.
- Rent out your space for events (even if they are not always book related).
- Make your book store so magical that schools will want to pay to field trip there.
- People are paying for virtual experiences (Virtual listening party or virtual headset parties). They are also lisening to many audiobooks. Why not combine the two ideas and make lisitening to books an experience people will pay for (for their book release party, friends night out, or date). Like relaxing in a movie theatre with twice the amount of heartfelt narration, and without the moving pictures. This could be used to tell moving stories.
- People love taking pictures with pretty books or a wall of pages as a backdrop. What if your store had hall (section) of photo genic book and paper murals/art. Like a museum of books and pages sorted in weird and cool ways people will love to see and take a picture in front of.
- Merch? Not just t-shirst that have your name on it. But unique products born from you store that readers and writers have been wondering about. Like a really cute brass colored, metal materiaed, maybe bedazzled, square shaped book mark I’ve been imagining. Or book spines to collect or unique items to decorate book spines.
- Many writers and readers Youtube thier love for books or share it through a poscast. Your book store can have podcast/ Youtube booths special for creators in the publishing niche or any niche to rent or use (under contract or one-time use payments)
- You could even have booths/studios for people to record thier audiobook works.
- Offer writing/working spaces for authors and writers. (where they could write, network, and buy books).
- Sell better breakfast or lunch than generic coffee, teas, and muffins. Spice things up.
- Bring back more paper boys and girls. In this age as delivered items are being preferred more and more. Deliver you newspapers or issues in style. Write things they’ll want to read and then deliver in style as a subscription based adtional service your book store can offer. Sourcing news from newspaper companies or writing your own.
- But what happens with all that paper people build up…open up a mini paper recyling center. That you can profit from. In either going out to collect paper or having them bring it to you or both, sell that paper to larger recylcling centers. You can also use that paper to make those pretty colored recyling papers to sell in bulk (like a pack of looseleaf) or make cute recylced paper notebooks that you can sell onine and/or in store.
Just do something cool…
Ideas That Put Your Bookstore On The Map
Many of those ideas are amazing. And some you may think are ridiculous. You may not even have the resources or employees for some of these ideas. So if none of these or only one of these caught your eye, come up with something that’ll save your books store. Use the very things that are changing the publishing industry to come up with unique and lucrative ideas. As times change find a way to stay relevant and progressively authentic: still a book store and cooler.
Besides, I have yet to hear of a library or bookstore opening up in the Metaverse. The first or second library could be yours…
Until my next words (on here that is)