Here Is How Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores Can Survive


When I think of bookstores today, I think of a favorite saying of mine. Unfortunately, that saying is, “Great marketing can’t fix a shit product.”

Quite simply: being a bookstore in the traditional sense of the word is over.

There is something called Amazon now. It’s already effectively destroyed the brick-and-mortar bookstore industry, and it’s only starting. And I mean that, so let me say it again in case you thought I misspoke: Amazon is just getting started. There is still so much potential for what it could be, what it can be, and what it will be.

Now Amazon might have struck the death blow, but products like the iPad and Kindle showed up with shovels and headstones. It’s only reinforced that traditional consumption of books is going to be eradicated. Even if you feel differently, the facts are there. There are hipsters out there who will buy your books. They will leave their house and travel to your store to purchase a hardcopy of a book. But they aren’t going to drive your bottom line. They’re the anomaly, not the standard.

But (and this might surprise you) I’m not here to tell you to sell off your stock, shut your store, and start a new business. Not at all. I’m here to tell you that you simply need to shift your focus. That’s because I have an idea for how bookstores can stay relevant, current, and profitable. And this can apply to a lot of different bricks and mortars as well.

If I bought fifteen bookstores out of bankruptcy (I was forced to, I guess? I don’t know; humor me), I would turn them into live event spaces. Bookselling would become the secondary aspect of it. I might also turn them into coffee shops, or a co-working space, or a venue for people to rent for their events. Or all of the above. Why not?

Here’s a fun fact: the wine store I run with my dad, Wine Library, has an enormous second floor with a lot of stock on it. I’m about to turn that into an event space. We already host tastings and other things of that nature up there. It makes sense financially, and it makes sense for the future of brick-and-mortars. I’m talking the talk to you here now, but I’m also walking the walk.

The crucial takeaway here is this: sell fewer books to clear up the square footage within the store, no matter how big you are. Activate the physical location. Take advantage of the fact that you have that space available. Find other ways and means to make dollars. Your book selling needs to become your secondary income. Wrap your head around that. Your business will be better off because of it.

Thanks for reading! Know someone who owns a bookstore? It would mean the world to me if you shared this with them. ☺