Business Overview

Books are still widely read, and many people don’t mind reading used books that are in good condition. In fact, lots of readers prefer used books because they’re less expensive than new ones.

Used book stores sell used books to customers. Some stores have storefronts, while others sell only online. Also, some stores carry all genres and types of books, while others specialize in a niche.

Who is this business right for?

The ideal used book store business owner is someone who loves to read and is passionate about books. Most owners have personal collections of books before they open a store. A survey by Book Sale Finder also found that over 80 percent of owners like the thrill of finding “treasures.” This made finding treasures the number one factor for becoming a used book store business owner.

This is an easy business to begin as a part-time business. In fact, Book Sale Finder’s data showed that 53 percent of business owners sold books part-time. Many began their businesses while semi-retired, after losing their jobs, when homebound or while working other full-time jobs.

What happens during a typical day at a used book store?

A book store business owner spends much of their time on the following four tasks:

  • Acquiring inventory

  • Evaluating and pricing books

  • Listing books

  • Fulfilling and shipping orders

When not working directly with books, business owners may pay bills, clean their facility (if they own a physical store), and market their store.

What is the target market?

A used book store business’ ideal customer is someone who reads a lot. Such a person will be regularly looking for more books. They’ll also appreciate how much they can save by purchasing used books instead of new ones.

How does a used book store make money?

A used book store makes money by selling used books. Most books are priced individually. At physical stores, though, some books that have little value may be priced at a standard low rate (e.g. $0.05) to get customers in the door.

What is the growth potential for a used book store?

Most used book store businesses remain small businesses, which is why over half of all owners run their stores part-time. Some businesses, become local or regional chains.

For example, Half Priced Books has almost 50 locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma. Walls of Books has locations throughout the United States (mostly in the Eastern U.S.). A couple examples of single-location used book stores are Dawn Treader Book Shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Autumn Leaves Used Books in Ithaca, New York.