Skip to content
Subscriber Only

How to Run a Bookstore

The first essential is to have good stock. The better the books, the more people will come. We were fortunate that when we started this business in 1971, we came into the secondhand book trade just as a lot of ancient families were dying out and selling grandpa’s books, so we were able to get a respectable stock very cheaply.

For a large bookshop to survive today, you need cheap real estate, or you have to be an institution like Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., or the Tattered Cover in Denver. They have everything from lunch counters to day care to get families to spend the day at the store. We are here in Archer City, Tex., where we can get buildings for $30,000 to $50,000. If we have two customers a day, it’s like a riot. We’ve had our first significant Chinese customer, and if we stay open another 10 or 15 years, a large part of our clientele will be from overseas.