Many readers prefer the services and comfort that independent bookstores provide. But the market outlook looks decidedly different. Brick-and-mortar bookstores are in danger of dying due to the arrival of e-books and intense competition from online retailers. However, no website or e-book reader can give the personal touch that many bookworms crave for.
Whether you specialize in storybooks for kids or sell a bit of everything, if you want to survive in an increasingly tough market, then you need to adapt and learn new skills.
Build an online presence
If you can’t beat the online giants, then why not join them? An online presence is essential for any business in the age of the Internet. Most people use their phones and computers to look for information, and you want to make sure that your target consumer knows where you are.
A simple blog or website goes a long way in getting the word out about your bookstore. You can even collaborate with online reading communities and sites to improve your blog’s domain authority.
Start a book club
Building a community around your bookstore can help ensure its survival. One way to do that is to start your book club. You can also allow existing book clubs to set up residency in your bookstore. A book club that centers around your niche (if you have one) also helps promote your bookstore among enthusiasts.
Post a sign-up sheet so people can join your weekly or monthly book discussions. If you don’t have enough space, you might want to hold the book club in the evening after you’ve closed for the day.
Serve tea or coffee
A book and a hot beverage make for a good pairing. Serving tea, coffee, or hot chocolate inside your shop can help increase sales and give your bookstore a sense of community. Even Barnes & Noble did it for many of their outlets. Also, from a practical standpoint, having tables and chairs allows your customers to sit back and relax.
One thing that most people enjoy is freebies. Whether it’s coupons, bookmarks, pens, or even free food, people will come if they know there’s a giveaway. Leverage this by sponsoring events such as poetry readings or literary festivals to draw people to your bookstore.
If you’re near a university, you can also raffle off school supplies or popular titles. People also appreciate discount coupons. All of these things have been proven to work for other establishments, so there’s no harm in trying them out for your store.
Stock up on popular titles
Even if you’re focused on a particular niche, it doesn’t hurt to diversify your offerings and stock up on popular items. I’m sure you know what the bestselling titles are, so order a box or two and display them prominently in your store. You can even have a dedicated section for popular titles.
These marketing strategies will surely give your bookstore the boost it deserves. Many businesses spend time and resources in marketing their brand and product, and bookstores are no exception. And in these uncertain times, you owe it to yourself to try anything to ensure the survival of your business.