Let’s be honest, it is getting harder and harder for local bookstores to survive in the era of Amazon and huge chain bookstores. Moreover, these bookstores — romanticized forever in the movie You’ve Got Mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks — will continue to encounter tough economic turbulences. Recessions come and recessions go, but once you have spread your roots in your people’s hearts, you can sleep more soundly at night.
In the meantime, here are seven ways to survive as a local bookstore.
One: Be Responsive
React to what people in your neighbourhood want and what titles your customers come looking for; you can make a list of the most-wanted books for each age group. Your business will flourish when people recognize your store as a part of their daily life and walks. You can try a suggestions shelf or desk.
Two: Build a Literary Hub
Connect your neighbourhood with the literary world. You might want to plan book-signing ceremonies for authors; they often love the spotlight. Put yourself out there and make friends with publicists and publishers. One effective approach to keep your customers and book lovers in the loop for your programmes is sending out newsletters. For that, you need a database. You can start asking for people’s email addresses today. Storytelling sessions, book readings, reviewing and book-release receptions are other ways through which you can make an impression!
Three: Embrace Social Media
People must know you exist. What better way than social media? The vitality of having a remarkable presence on social media comes with commitment and creativity. Everyone can have an Instagram account and tweet on an hourly basis; the main art is keeping the audience engaged. Please oh please do not kill the joy with long, complicated hashtags.
Four: Say Hello to Important Occasions
Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day are the obvious occasions. You must follow the trends like Mental Health Awareness Day or International Women’s Day. You can dedicate a shelf or two for specialized titles with those subjects, related novels or even make gift packages with books plus accessories. Moreover, remember that summertime is fiction time, aka trade time! You want to change your interior design, your window display, and your decoration based on special occasions, for appearance does matter.
Five: Names Are Important
Get to know your loyal customers, their names, their pets’ names, their birthdays. People will remember the personal attention they receive and this can help you build not only a career, but also human interactions.
Six: Book Clubs Matter
Organize a book club and consider discounts for the members. You can set up a monthly meeting in a cozy corner of your shop. As time passes, you might want to think of inviting authors or translators to discussion sessions.
Seven: Choose Your People Wisely
Your employees represent your bookstore’s identity. It would be amazing if they are on the same page as you in terms of customer service. You can try to build a productive relationship with publishers and distributors. You need to make sure you will receive strategic titles hot out of the publishing houses.