Small bookstores are not only under threat from large chains such as Waterstones. The explosion in popularity of cheap, easily-accessible book websites has made the lives of independent sellers even more difficult.
“The market for specialists, especially out-of-print and second-hand, is being squeezed far more by the internet than by Waterstones,” maintains Aiden Jenkins, owner of the Richmond Bookshop.
So, if you are going to offer something different that consumers can find on the net, you need to do more than just target and establish a solid customer base from your store. You’ll need to work out how to take advantage of the internet so that it works for you, rather than against you.
The most obvious way of doing this, of course, is to set up your own website. A well-designed, informative site will not only raise your profile in general, it will attract people searching for a particular book through search engines. Hopefully, you will be able to beat Amazon and co on content, price and availability, making your store the first port of call for specialist collectors.
Another option is to take a slow, pain-staking route and gather as many rare, out-of-print books as possible. If you market your business well and become well established in your local area, you will attract many customers who have either missed out on rare books on the internet or couldn’t find them online at all.