15 Ideas for Indy Bookstores

Why are board games, puzzles, and trading cards a two billion dollar a year industry? Because you cannot duplicate the experience of playing a board game, putting together a puzzle, or trading cards with your friends. Video games are an extension of the Game & Toy Industry, not a replacement.

Amazon and eBooks are an extension of the publishing industry, not a replacement.

There are four types of readers:

~ Readers that purchase printed books only.

~ Readers that purchase 50% printed, 50% eBooks.

~ Readers that purchase 30% printed, 70% eBooks.

~ Readers that purchase eBooks only.

With that in mind, here are 15 ideas for Indy Bookstores:

1. Open Submissions

More and more self-published books are becoming hidden gems. Indy Bookstores will have a distinct advantage by finding those talented authors, then promoting and selling in their store. One of the biggest reasons bookstore chains are failing, is because of their watered down bestsellers list. Indy Bookstores can play by their own rules and find the real bestsellers, by accepting submissions from authors.

2. Cost Cutting

Indy Bookstores should make this critical adjustment immediately. The most productive and fair way of controlling the cost of a printed book is to charge by the page count. A one hundred-page book should not cost the same as a three hundred-page book.

Simplified Example:

200 page soft-back book can be printed for $3.16, + $0.60 shipping, = $3.76.

Let’s say the author self-published that book.

$1.00 royalty to the author.

$1.00 royalty to the Indy Bookstore.

$0.40 tax

Final Retail Cost: $6.16.

Example of final retail cost for 100, 200, 300, and 400 page books:

100: $5.49

200: $6.16

300: $8.41

400: $9.98

I know that someone will make a comment, “I can download an eBook for $2.99.” Just remember that three out of four readers still purchase printed books. This blog is dedicated to those people.

3. Real Time Printing

Two years ago, I predicted that every bookstore and mass-market store would have book-printing machine that has the ability to print any book with an ISBN number in twenty minutes or less for a customer. My prediction did not come to fruition. Nevertheless, I still believe real time printing is coming, especially to Indy Bookstores.

4. Special Edition Books

Indy Bookstores should have an entire section dedicated to special edition books. The look, feel, and wow factor of these books cannot be duplicated in the digital world. The experience of looking over all those books at once cannot be duplicated by Amazon.

5. Matchmaker

Customer matchmaking is the process of assisting readers to find a book that matches their interest. Matchmaker can be done digitally on the bookstore website, or personally by a staff member in the store. The Indy Bookstore can use this process to introduce readers to unknown, yet talented authors. (See Open Submissions.)

6. Gift Baskets

Match non-book items with books in a gift basket. The idea to use items that go along with the book’s theme, or genre. For example, the bookstore can put together T-shirts and posters to go along with their children and tween books. Put candles together with spiritual books. Local restaurant and movie gift cards to go along with romance books.

7. Customer Feedback

Readers have unfortunately become the new gatekeepers in publishing. Indy Bookstores can use that to their advantage. Whenever a customer purchases a book, the store should give the customer a feedback card, which doubles as a coupon. After the customer reads the book, they can fill out the card, then turn back into the bookstore and receive a 20% discount off their next purchase. Bookstores can use these feedback cards to monitor which books they should be selling. Also, the bookstore can send the feedback to the author.

8. Local Team UP!

Local businesses have already started teaming up and promoting each other. (This is also a good idea for authors, but that is blog for another time.) The Indy Bookstore can handout fliers and gift cards from other local businesses. (The local businesses will do the same for the bookstore.) Also, local businesses can promote each other on their websites.

9. Community Involvement 

The Indy Bookstore can donate books to families, have yearly short story contests, and create reading, writing, and illustrating programs.

10. Special Store Hours

To save money, Indy Bookstores should have this schedule:

Wednesday – Sunday, Open1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Special Events can be scheduled Wednesday – Saturday,9:00 a.m.toNoon

(See special events listed below.)

Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

11. Local Team UP Events!

Local businesses can take turns hosting events. For example, the Indy Bookstore can host an event and invite all the local restaurants to have food samples for customers.

12. Author Events

Book signings are great, but letting an author hold a private event with fifty VIP Guests is a win/win for the store and the author.

13. Ticket Events

Indy Bookstores can use their imagination for ticket events. These should be scheduled during non-store hours. Here are some examples:

~ 5th Grade only event! (Or middle school only event! Or 1st Grade only event!)

~ Bookstore Birthday Party!

~ School Fieldtrips

~ Writing Conference

~ Youth Group Event

~ Bookstore Easter Egg Hunt

~ Haunted Bookstore (In October)

14. Mobile Bookstore

One or two staff members should sell books at statewide events, book conventions, writing conferences, school events, church events, YMCA, etc… The goal is to reach customers beyond the community.

15. Marketing

Why are eBooks and Amazon so popular? Great marketing. Why is there so much news about bookstores becoming extinct in the next few years? Great marketing. (By Amazon and digital companies.)

Bookstores need to change their perception, before it becomes a reality. I love going into bookstores. In fact, bookstores are my favorite hangout. I’ll bet millions of people feel the same way.

Adding a ton of non-book items and a yogurt stand is not the ultimate solution to saving bookstores. Printed books and Indy Bookstores remain a terrific experience.

UP Authors is in the process of purchasing a local bookstore. Some people may claim that we are crazy for doing so. Nevertheless, we see thousands of talented, yet unknown authors everyday.

And we are willing to bet our future on those authors…

Ron Knight

Untraditional Publishing will show you ways to build Author Confidence, increase your Author Knowledge, provide Author Self-Discovery, help authors gain Experience, and put authors in a position to succeed. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/92130



Ron Knight

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  1. Wow, this would be amazing to see come to fruition – especially in Australia. Indy stores printing on demand on site? It would solve a lot of problems associated with freight costs and shipping times from the US for me personally 🙂