Like a lot of people it's always been a bit of a dream to run a second hand bookshop with a lovely cafe with huge squishy sofas and excellent coffee...
I have a friendships an amazing baker and he really wants to open a bakery, we were shooting the breeze last night and thought, if we could make it work, combining forces to open some sort of bookshop cafe that sold his incredible baked goods, ran book clubs accompanied by cake, wine tasting evenings, family friendly activities during the day but main focus being cake, coffee and books.
This is very much just thoughts at the moment so just looking logistically where you start - how does running a second hand bookshop even work? Where do you get your books from?!
I've worked in various cafes over the years so have a vague idea of how they work and I know a hell of a lot of research and learning needs doing before we can even think about it seriously, so just wondered where your starting points would be?
We've identified an area which a) has a few places for rental and b) has a captured market for something like this
We've both run companies before so have experience with budgeting and suppliers.
Do you mean second hand as in rare, old books? In which case you get them from auction, car boots, other dealers, house clearances etc. I imagine it takes a lot of skill to build your stock and you need to know what you're doing.
If you mean 'stuff you could buy in Waterstones except second-hand' I know of a very successful book exchange near my old house. You take your old books in and you get 'store credit', depending on their value/popularity/condition etc. So say you take 5 books in you get 'stamps' for £5 which you can put towards other books - obviously the idea being that you'll spend more than your credit. It works really well, has been there for years. But crucially it's in a cheap part of town and it's a sort of junk shop for books - it isn't a naice place where you go to enjoy a cake and a browse. I also don't know how it will do in the kindle generation...
There's also the amazing Barter books who sound similar to what you want to do.
However as a writer... I think you have to be aware that selling second-hand books means writers/publishers don't make any money from your stock. So if you wanted to have writers as part of your experience, they'll say no. Better for them to go to Waterstones (even if there's no cake) and interact with punters who will buy their books new and actually make them some money!
I disagree in part - Wilson. Writers would get involved if there was a creative workshop there for example. Also no reason why old and new cannot co exist - there is a gorgeous one in Notting Hill that has second hand books and new ones, plus food. I went to the Granta Summer Party there and it is also used for book launches....
absolutely no reason why old and new can't co-exist but I don't think that's what OP is talking about? I think a mix would be much better all round, you need the popular best sellers to bring people in through the door.
I'm afraid I can't offer business advice suitable for this, but as a potential customer I could make some suggestions?
This sounds lovely, I would definitely use a shop like this, BUT it would only be possible for me if it was welcoming for children too. Maybe a children's story time where a member of staff reads aloud to children then the parents get to have half an hours peace for a coffee and to browse the books.
Or an area of children's books with some mini tables for children to read and have drinks and snacks while being overlooked by a parent sitting at an adult table. The books in this area may get damaged / dirty at times so may not be sellable, but it may work as a way of getting parents in spending money if their children are occupied too.
I would def make it child friendly too! I have two regrets and do my best to encourage reining so a bookshop I would run would have to have events and things for them to do and a special children reading corner. They could have books there to read at the table so wouldn't be sellable but would stay there to be "used" (and convince the parents to by it new ). Yy to story time, we're in LA and anything like this you generally have to pay for, does my nut!
As I say, very embryonic thoughts, I know I'd eventually have to settle on specialising the "extras" beyond just selling books and cake (although we do have a name....Books'n'Bakes) so any input is useful at this stage
The Alnwick one is dog friendly too - and you can even sit at some tables (away from the actual cafe bit) with your dog to eat (and there's an open fire there in the winter). They have lots of seats for reading at - and a whole room of children's books.