The Bookstore Purchasing Guide

Make smart decisions when purchasing equipment for your Bookstore. Learn about the equipment you will need, typical costs, and where are the best places to buy it.

Required Equipment and Materials

Most bookstore owners will need the following equipment and materials to get started:

  • Bookcases ($200 - $1,500 each)
  • Cash registers ($100 - $1500)
  • POS System (varies)
  • Comfy chairs ($150 - $300)
  • Sound system ($300- $3,000)
  • WiFi ($60/month)
  • Modem and Routers ($200)
  • Books, magazines, etc. ($5 - $15 each)

Keep in mind that the amount of each item listed that you need will vary depending on how big your bookstore is. Also, you can save by purchasing some of your equipment used. Additionally, the main cost of equipment for a bookstore will come from the book inventory you will have to build.

Sample List of Purchases

A typical person looking to purchase equipment for a bookstore might make the following purchases:

  • Assorted book and magazine inventory ($5,000)

Grand Total: $7,500

Key Decisions

Picking the right books to stock up is arguably the most important buying decision you’ll make when starting a bookstore. We outline the key considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when making this purchase and provide some popular options.

Differentiate Your Inventory from Your Competitors'

As a small, independent bookstore, you will not have room to stock the same variety of books found in a store like Barnes & Noble. If your bookstore has a niche (LGBT literature, young adult books, etc.), it may be easier to select books to carry. If your bookstore is going to offer a variety of genres, make sure to offer your customers a well rounded selection.

Know Your Customers’ Taste

Everyone has their own taste for books, but rather than buying inventory on personal taste, it’s important to get to know the preferences of your customers and get what they’re looking for; avoiding piling of inventory is key. Soliciting customer requests and staff recommendations is a great way to pick up some ideas for new books.

Stay Up to Date with Latest Releases

There are many ways to stay up to date with the latest releases of books; as a bookstore owner, you should always be keen with all the updates. You should read book reviews in newspapers, magazines, and online articles. Attend literary conferences when you have a chance, and sign-up to receive letters from editors promoting a book.

Purchasing Complementary Goods

Often times books are bought as gifts, and people who shop at book stores may pick up other little knick-knacks to go with their purchase.  This can be a great way to engage with your audience and create a unique feel to your store.

Best Places to Buy


Distributors work directly with publishers, acting as a sort of middleman between your store and the publishers. Distributors may provide more exclusive access to certain famous publishers and a common go-to for bookstore owners.


Wholesalers work with a wide variety of publishers, giving stores that buy from the wholesaler more choices in books. If your bookstore sells used books, you can find wholesalers that specialize in used books.

Don’t forget that offering books online is a great way to increase profits, and partnering with wholesalers can be an easy way to do this. If you use a wholesaler, the orders from customers can be filled by the wholesaler and not by your shop, which will reduce your workload.

Here is a list of helpful links to lists and individual websites of distributors and wholesalers: