Opening a Bookstore

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Opening A Bookstore

Bookselling is a wonderful and fulfilling profession. Owning your own store may seem a natural and attractive idea if you love books; however, passion and knowledge have to be combined with business acumen if your bookstore is to succeed. Like any other retail business, you will have to meet the cost of rent, utilities, compensation, and payments to your vendors, all while striving to make your bookstore profitable. It's not always easy, but ABA and our community of booksellers and industry professionals are here to help you each step of the way. 

You need to make sure you:

 • Have the necessary knowledge and experience;

• Have the right financial backing; 

• Are prepared to work hard.

Here are some suggestions to help make your dream of owning an independent bookstore a reality:



Become a Provisional ABA Member

Provisional members have access to a wealth of information, tools, and expertise. From the Book Buyer's Handbook (directory of publisher terms, specials, and co-op offers) to educational events, the bookseller-to-bookseller forums, networking opportunities, and the ABACUS financial benchmarking survey results, ABA has what you need to prepare yourself for bookstore ownership.


Request ABA’s "Opening a Bookstore" electronic kit.

Provide your name, email address, mailing address, potential store location and name, if applicable, and where you are in the process (are you on the verge of opening a bookstore? Halfway there? Or just thinking about it for now?). ABA will send you a digital kit including an Opening a Bookstore checklist.


Sign up for Prospective Booksellers School

Facilitated by The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates. This information-packed bookselling experience features workshops on finances, store design, inventory management, marketing, technology, and more. ABA members receive discounts for workshop tuition and guidebooks. ABA members receive a discount on tuition for the Owning a Bookstore workshop, and a discount on the Opening a Bookstore Essential Planning Guide.



Develop a Business Plan

Your exploration of bookselling will benefit from a good reading of the information provided by the Small Business Administration on its website. From business plans to legal concerns, this is a wonderful stop for an overview and resources.


Learn about IndieCommerce/IndieLite

ABA offers two e-commerce platforms for independent bookstores that are fully transactional, e-commerce enabled websites.



The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) website has numerous articles and resources on a range of small business topics. The organization’s hundreds of nonprofit chapters help link thousands of experienced business professionals with entrepreneurs every year.


About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


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