A Bookstore Isn’t An Excuse for a Poor Business Model

A recent NY Times article discussed about how bookstores are coming up with “innovative” funding methods to get them in business. Essentially, banks aren’t giving out loans to small bookstores and instead they’re having to raise “community” support.

What other type of business does this? Who asks for donations on top of what they are already selling?

Imagine WalTargetMart doing this. It would be insane.

It’s not like Kickstarter, where people are trying to create a new product or even a new creation and need help getting off the ground. Bookstores already exist in one place or another, either in your town or online.

Potential bookstore owners can’t get loans because banks aren’t seeing the returns. Either it’s a business plan problem — ask for some help — or the market is speaking. I’m super passionate about books, but it seems like when bookstores can’t find ways to make it work, that’s a potentially dangerous sign for success.

I’m not saying the market is always right (because it’s not!) but I guess bookstores need to think about more academic/non-profit/institutional ways of being. That’s what this is drifting into.

If bookstores are becoming museums…

…then so be it and let’s call it that. Or maybe there’s another creative way to do this, I don’t know.

We may have to collectively re-imagine what a bookstore “is”.

Which is why I like this other NY Times article…

It profiles a small bookstore in Michigan that started an online book club and really embraced the Internet. They’re not just dependent on tourists and their local neighborhood, their creating a worldwide community.

Amazon really did that with reviews and access to everything, this bookstore can do it a different way — with curation. There are some really interesting initiatives — like Emily Books and the Book of the Month Club — embracing this. It’s another way of handselling.

I have a bookstore in my neighborhood that I can walk to. And it’s never asked me for “extra” money (not yet at least, I just moved there).

Bookstores are unique, I’m not denying that. Yet, I think some of them look to leverage their “uniqueness” as an excuse for not running a smart business. That’s a problem.

Thanks to Real Pants for profiling this article and piquing my interest. Read Real Pants!

If you liked this post, please recommend it!

I’m Josh Spilker, a writer and author. I blog about the writing process at Create, Make, Write and write about everyday life at Vaguely Feel. For more like this, follow this publication: