Friday, April 24, 2009

How to handle children in my bookstore

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

xavier-bookstore.jpgI have run my Xavier bookstore for two years now. It is located near for elementary schools. Every time the school is over, a lot of children will enter my bookstore and walk around alleyways of the bookshelves. These school students are interested in buying some school supplies, comics and textbooks. They also like to play inside the bookstore. To minimize them from running and playing inside the bookstore, I provide a bookshelf where I put some children's magazine and books. I will ask them to read them instead of playing around inside the bookstore. If they only run around and play with books, I will tell them to play outside the bookstore. Providing free books and magazines is very effective method in preventing the children from running or playing inside the bookstore.

There are many adult books that are not suitable for children such as mature content, and university textbooks. These categories of books have to be placed far enough from children's books so that children will not pick them up. Mature content books have to be placed high enough on top shelves so that the children will not be able to reach them.

Parents like to ask their children to wait for them to pick them up at my bookstore. I really appreciate these parents' ideas. To attract parents to enter my bookstore, I give new book info brochures away to the children asking them to give them to their parents. The next day or two days, parents will come to buy some books. This is has been my strategy to handle the school children who like to enter my bookstore. They have the curiosity to encounter new things in their life. I have to appreciate them, providing free books and magazines which they can read inside the bookstore without having to pay.

Factors to consider in bookstore business

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

Retail has been my core business since in the beginning. I enjoy selling things especially books. I started selling books since I was in elementary school. At that time, I ordered books from Tiga Serangkai Publisher and sold them to my friends. I still continued selling books when I was in junior high. So, running a bookstore is not something new for me. I now know some nuts and bolts of book business.


My experience in running a real bookstore - As I have said before that there are many aspects that a bookstore owner must consider if he or she wants to be successful in running his or her bookstore.

Neatness and cleanliness - Every day book lovers enter my bookstore. They pick up books, read the synopses at the back cover and put them back again if they are not interested. When the bookstore is not very crowed with book lovers, I will have to rearrange the books again according to their categories. Every morning, Dewi sweeps the floor. The cleanliness of a bookstore is not only limited to the floor but the air ventilation, the name plank, the glass windows, and the outside yards and the last but not the least, the books themselves. A clean and neat bookstore attracts more customers.

Relationship - In today's internet era, relationship between bookstore owner and customers is still important. I have to compete not only with bookstores in the same town but with online bookstores that provide books with more titles and "cheaper prices." Relationship is maintained by giving away newest book info, sending SMS to book lovers and providing an order form for those who seek books that we don't have.

Free reading corner - This is another strategy which I apply to my bookstore. I provide a corner with a bookshelf in my bookstore which contains books that book lovers can read for free. Sometime they borrow the books. I don't see that kind of service in many bookstores. Running a bookstore is not purely a business for me, it is part of my service to the public in order to peacefully transform the society nonviolently. There are still many factors that I have to write here about how to profesionally running a home based bookstore but I think I will continue my story in another post.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The bookshelves lay out in a bookstore

Running and managing a bookstore is not always related to buying and selling books. There is another factor which we should consider to have a successful business. Bookstores will always have bookshelves. These are where we put our books. Bookshelves have to be well arranged in a bookstore so that customers will be able to find books easily.
Arrange the books according to categories - There are thousands of book titles in a bookstore. If they are not arranged according to certain book categories, the customers will not find them easily. In my Xavier bookstore, the categories of books are School books (elementary, junior, high), fiction, language, computer, religion, agriculture, economics, health and lifestyle, cooking, engineering, politics and law.
Avoid putting many bookshelves in the middle of the room - I put newly arrived books in on two tables in the middle of the room whereas bookshelves are placed a long the walls of the bookstore. This is to create an impression a spacious room and that the bookstore is not too crowded with people and books.

Provide some shelves for merchandise other than books - Besides selling books, I also sell other merchandise such as school supplies, some sports equipment and small bags. These merchandises have to be placed on different shelves.
The alleyways between the bookshelves should not be less than 75 cm for Asian bookstores. For European countries the distance can be around 1 to 1.5 meters. At least two people can stand in the alleyway without causing books to fall down from the bookshelves. A good bookstore also has to provide a place or shelve for customers to leave their belongings while shopping for books. Some customers bring helmets or bags that are big. These things can be left there for a while. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia Also: Promoting your bookstore; Determining the profit margin of a bookstore

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Promoting your bookstore

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

I have been running my Xavier bookstore for two years now. The monthly selling of books last month reached 34 million rupiahs or around 3,400 US dollars. For people who live in the US or European countries, it might be an average salary of office workers but for people who live in Indonesia, it is a lot of money.


During the first month of my bookstore's operation, I could only make some 500 US dollars bookselling. Now I can sell books worth of between 30 to 55 million rupiahs a month. How can I do that? The answer is promotion. I don't spend any money on newspapers' advertisement nor hiring internet experts to run an online bookstore such as bookstore. I only sell new books at the moment. I have got a plan to sell used books one day like what Powell bookstore does but I don't know when I can do that.

The following explanations are some of marketing or service campaigns that are aimed at increasing book sales.

Order Form - When book lovers enter my bookstore and look for books sometimes they cannot get or find them. To help them, I provide an order form list which they can use to fill in their name, mobile phone number and the titles and publishers of the books that they are looking for. I will use the list to order the books from publishers or partner bookstore in Java. This highly targeted book order has improved my bookselling to over 100% tripling my bookselling from 15 million rupiahs to 30 million rupiahs just within 3 months. When their ordered books have come, Dewi will notify them using SMS.

Book info brochures - Regularly every week I print brochures containing newly arrived books at my bookstore. I give them away to every visitor. This is one of the most effective yet cheapest promotional tools that I've ever used.

SMS info - When the newly arrived books have been put on the bookshelves, Dewi will send SMS to book lovers and people who had ordered the books using order form.

Online Catalog shopping - To serve book lovers who live in other islands or other countries, I make to Xavier bookstore website and Xavier bookstore blog. The average bookselling from the internet is around one million rupiahs.

I don't put advertisement on the newspaper or radio anymore. The above four promotional campaigns have helped me much in increasing the selling of books in my bookstore. Also read: The cleanliness and neatness of a bookstore; What book categories in my bookstore that I sell the most?; Determining the profit margin of a bookstore

Monday, April 20, 2009

The cleanliness and neatness of a bookstore

One of the most important factors that determines the performance of a bookstore is cleanliness. A clean bookstore will attract book lovers to come and buy books. The cleanliness is not only limited to the floor or windows and yard of a bookstore but also the books themselves.


During dry season, dust flies and lands on the surface of books. This cannot easily be seen with eyes. But this can be felt with our fingers. If we touch the surface of a book, we will be able to feel the dust on it. It makes our customers feel uncomfortable. Therefore, to clean the books we must regularly wipe or "sweep" the surfaces of the books using soft cloth or duster.

The cleanliness of the bookshelves, especially those that are made of soft wood, is very important in preventing termites from eating or attacking them. Bookshelves support a large number of books. They will buckle if the design is not strong enough to support the loads the books give to the shelves. If the strength of the wood has been deteriorated by termites, then you will have to replace the whole bookshelves. It means that regularly cleaning the bookshelves will prevent you from unnecessary investment in totally replacing porous termites attacked bookshelves with the new ones. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua. Also read: What book categories in my bookstore that I sell the most? and Determining the profit margin of a bookstore; Bookshelf design for bookstore

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What book categories in my bookstore that I sell the most?

I run a small home based bookstore. The books range from computer, fiction to agriculture and engineering. I usually order between three to five books for every title. Manokwari where my Xavier bookstore is located is only a small town. Its population is around 100,000 people.

People come to the bookstore to by Christian, computer, agriculture and health books. These are the categories of books which I sell the most. My bookstore is not crowded with people. Some two to three book lovers can be seen from time to time.

If you are interested in running a bookstore, you will have to determine the types or categories of books which you want to buy.

The best method which you can apply before ordering your books or merchandise is surveying the demography of your town or city. What are they? Is your city or town located in mountainous or coastal region? Is there a university nearby? The professions of the town dwellers will most likely determine the type of books that they will buy.

My bookstore is located in a town that is near to the beach and near to the agricultural center. So, I sell books that are related to agriculture and business. Majority of the population is Protestant. This data influences the type of books that I sell.

If you run your bookstore fully online, the demography will not much influence the merchandise that you intend to sell. I sell many titles of books online. They are ordered mostly from cities far away from my base town. The owner of online bookstore needs to update the data in his or her website regularly so that search engine can index it regularly too. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

Determining the profit margin of a bookstore

The demand for good quality books from the modern society is increasing every day. Books are closely related to the development of human intellectuality. It supports one's education and effort to succeed in his or her life.

007-secret.JPGOn the other side, books are part of printing industry where general principles of business have to be applied to book business. People who are involved in printing business need money to keep their business running. They need money to pay authors and print more new titles. If book business does not make profit, people who are involved in that business will leave it.

Now the question that we need to know is how much profit we can apply. A bookstore usually charges 30 percent net profit from the initial cost of the books. If the price of a book from a publisher is 10 US dollars then the shipping cost will be 1 US dollar (10% of the book cost). A business is usually run on bank loan. The monthly installment plus the interest is 10% to 20% depending on the amount that a bookstore pays to a bank. The operational cost (building rent + utilities and labor cost) is around 15%. So, the final price of a book will be 10 USD + the percentage of (Shipping cost + bank installment + operational cost).

It means that the total percentage added to a book will be around 40% to 60%. If the bookstore does not pay any loan installment to a bank then the final price of the book should be lower, around 30% to 50% added to the initial book cost. Giant bookstores like Barnes and Noble or might apply different percentage due to their large volume of book selling. For independent bookstore, a reasonable percentage of profit is needed to keep the business survive and growing.

Finally, how much is the retail cost of a book if the initial price from a publisher is 10 USD? It will or should be between 13 and 16 US dollar. Is it such a high margin? Yes, book business is a very profitable business. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

Bookshelf design for bookstore

Bookstore needs a lot of bookshelves to display books. The owner of the bookstore must know which shelves are good for books. Bookshelves look similar to other shelves for selling groceries but they are totally different. Why different? Bad designed bookshelves will buckle the books.
The above bookshelf buckles books. In inclined position, thicker books can withstand their own weight whereas thinner ones cannot. This is an example of bad design bookshelves whose vertical boards or plans had been designed in upright positions. But good design ones are designed following the inclined position of books.
Look at the following bookshelf design. The books lie wholly on the surface of the shelves. They will not buckle. So, if you are a bookstore owner, make sure that the bookshelves that you buy are of good design.
If you have a private library at home, to prevent the buckling of books, you can buy an inclined bookshelf or bookends to prevent your books from buckling. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How I run my bookstore

I began running the Xavier bookstore on the first of December 2007. It was difficult at the time. The number of visitors was very low and at the end of the month, the total selling of books was only 5 million rupiahs. It means the profit was 1.5 million rupiahs. I was anxious if this home based business could support me or not. I began to invest more money into it. All of my money around 70 million rupiahs had been invested in this business buying more books.

There are around five elementary schools and one junior high around my neighborhood. I invested around 30 percent of the money in buying school books. Was I right? NO. That was one of the biggest mistakes. It turned out to be the worst business decision I've ever made in my life. I could not easily get out of the mistake. It took around two or three years until I fully recovered from that mistake.

I suggest that every bookstore make a survey about what kind of books that the town dwellers really need. Books will still become a profitable business. Education has been the program priority of every government. It means that budget spent on books will continue to rise. But bookstores must not rely on government spending. Bookstores have to rely on the people as a whole which are the town or city dwellers. They are the ones that we should target as potential buyers of our merchandise.

It means that the titles of books that we sell must be adapted to the needs of the people. This is the key to a successful operation of a bookstore. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

How I promote my bookstore

After three months running my bookstore, I felt that I had to do something to increase the sales of my books. I then considered a few options which I might take to attract people to come to my bookstore. Placing advertisement in the newspaper, distributing book info, paying advertisement on the radio and etc were some of the options that I could pay. I chose printing brochures and radio ads as my first promotion campaign.

I used a Sony digital camera to take pictures of some of the newly arrived books for making the book info. Then with the help of Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher I designed the brochures. I only printed them with Canon Pixma IP 1200. It was a simple yet robust and powerful color printer. Every week, I printed up to 150 brochures which I gave away to schools children who entered my bookstore. They then gave them to their parents. Within one month after I made and gave away the brochures, my book selling rose up to 200 percent. I was very fortunate at the time because a friend of mine Mr. James Taroreh helped me airing my promotional campaign in Arauna FM radio for free.

It's been three years now and my bookstore is still running. The total selling has reached more than 30 million rupiahs. I hope that the presence of Xavier bookstore can help people in this town to get information which they really need and also at the same time become my financial resource. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

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