I have always wanted to be a bookstore owner, and I have been selling books for over 20 years. Before that I had worked in both new and used bookstores, both chains and indie. I have been a worker and a manager (even though a manager title is worthless when there are only two working) and a book repairer. Now as an owner I am all of that and more.
The stores I worked at have all be closed down for years now. This sounds strange, like it was my fault that this occurred. When one is talking about small businesses -especially small niche businesses- this is a common occurrence. Three of the places I worked at were specialty bookstores- one cats, one history and one sports-and I was the only employee. This meant that the owner could have a day off and not lose sales. This also meant that I learned every task that there was to run the place. This also meant that when I left (small businesses sometimes do not pay much) the store would have to hire someone quickly in order to keep up. When the owner got sick or could not hire anyone the business suffered.
Two of the places I worked at were general used bookstores. These are the ones where the books are stacked floor to ceiling in general sections which can easily become a health hazard. These places had good books, but some were
not able to be accessed without moving hundreds of others. These places deal with bulk sales and tend to not have online catalogues. They take in trades and hope to sell more than they do. This type of bookstore can succeed if they are the only used place around or are in an area with a lot of foot traffic.
I’ve worked in two chain bookstores. One of them sold music & coffee as well. This store had a problem with dealing with the change in readership. They did not host events, nor did they pay the employees well. For every trend they waited until it was proven to start it. For example they had a website where one could find the books, but not order them. For that the customer had to call the store nearest them. This was before Amazon started, but even after Amazon was growing into the creature it now is, they never decided to catch on to the seller aspect. Thus they went out of business.
When I started to sell books and started my business I wanted to stay small. I decided to gather a following through events and festivals. So I did. With only a tent, a pavilion, some rugs, a lot of foldable shelving, a reliable vehicle and inventory I would show up at SCA events, Pagan Festivals, Science Fiction Conventions, Anime Conventions, Home School Fairs and even thrift markets.
But time marches on, and I saw the need to start selling online as well. Thus my books were listed on Amazon, ABE.com and Alibris.com. I had multiple websites, but with unreliable computers and no understanding on how to actually post things it was just a glorified GeoCities.
It was always my plan to have a bookwagon to go to shows in, a brick & morter location and an active website.
But due to 2020 the brick & morter location and the shows stopped. Now I am selling online. I have this site, an inventory that is on biblio.com, a twitter account, an Instagram account and a tiktok account. I am selling at online festivals and attempting to find newer places to peddle my wares.
While it is a struggle and a bit of a pain, I am living my childhood dream and that is, to me, the best thing that one can accomplish in life.
With that being said, if you know of any fairs, festivals, events or groups that are starting up online, please feel free to let me know.