We’ve closed many books stores in recent years and I’m afraid we’ll close more. Although demographics and technology are working against bookstores there are ways to survive and prosper in this business. It takes thinking out of the box and an innovative approach to book retailing. Many well known names in book retailing are gone. Borders is a good example. Even Barnes and Noble is closing stores. The Future of the Bookstore is uncertain when you consider today’s current technology driven culture. Having a specific plan and a stand-out approach to retailing may help small book retailers thrive. It’s all about strategy.
I know many older adults who will never buy a Kindle. They want to hold a book in their hands. Unfortunately the younger generation has grown up with computers, iPhones, and tablets. They can’t see carrying a backpack full of books to school when they can slip an e-reader into their cargo pants.
The author, Paco Underhill, wrote a wonderful book, Why We Buy? The Science of Shopping. It demonstrates the power of a bricks and mortar retail store. It discusses why readers want to pick up a book, feel the cover, read the forward and leaf through some pages before buying. Stores can provide an exciting experience to shoppers and expose them to hundreds of images, advertising messages and books they would never discover online while they browse the isles. You can’t do this online.
Bricks and mortar retailing is, or can be, a five sensory experience. It is the most powerful selling environment for that reason. The best retailers will engineer their selling space to appeal to the customer using all five senses.
The longer customers are in a store the more likely they will buy. A successful strategy for bookstores is to create innovative ways to keep customers in the store. Examples are cafes, soft chairs, special events, book signings, lectures, etc. The more reasons you give a customer to stay in the store the more likely they’ll make a purchase.
Book retailers need to follow the market. Older consumers are moving into the city. City bookstores will outperform rural book stores.
Many book stores are making more profit from other items they sell than from books. That may be tee shirts, coffee cups, gifts, or greeting cards.
Used books and rare books many be an area of opportunity for a niche bookstore.
Every retailer needs a competitive advantage to survive. We still have too many retailers in this country and the number of stores is contracting. Unless you can find and define a powerful competitive advantage it’s probably time to get out of this business.
This video shows a sale we did for a Bookstore. After many years in retailing the owners decided it was time to close their business.