Ten Marks of a Good Bookstore

The Bookstore at Vineyard Columbus

The Bookstore at Vineyard Columbus

If you’ve followed this blog, you probably have the idea that I’ve spent a bit of time around bookstores. I’ve even reviewed a few of them. Along the way, I’ve formed a few ideas of what I like in bookstores. Here’s my top ten.

  1. An inviting entrance. Featured books inside the front window or inside the door. An attractive display inside. Good sight lines that enable you to get a sense of the layout of the store.
  2. Good lighting. I’ve been in some stores where it was difficult to read the titles on the books.
  3. Clearly marked sections and subsections or even a “map” of the store.
  4. A clear ordering system within sections so you can find your favorite author.
  5. Regularly stocking with new items and clearing out of deadwood. I’ve been in some stores where the same items have been in the same place for ten years.
  6. Clean and clutter free. One shouldn’t need a bath after a trip to the bookstore! Likewise one doesn’t enjoy tripping over boxes of books in the aisles or knocking down  a pile of books.
  7. Selection and specialties. Good bookstores go far beyond the bestsellers with good depth in the various categories. It also seems that stores develop specialties–usually several. It could be cookbooks, sports, philosophy and religion. One second hand store had a great selection of thrillers, mysteries, novels and romance stories.
  8. Places to sit and page through your finds. Good stores are comfortable places you are not in a hurry to leave.
  9. I always love stores with a bargain section, particularly if they throw in some interesting, but slower moving works or duplicates.
  10. Above all, I love a store with a knowledgeable bookseller who knows his or her stock, and has a passion for reading, and getting good books into the hands of others. Add someone who is cheerful and will take time to talk or help you find that hard to locate item and you truly have a winning combination.

I won’t guarantee that this will mean a profitable store. That takes savvy with business management, purchasing, marketing and much more. But I think the things I’ve listed above incline people to return and that has to count for something.

What would you add to this list? And what places are good examples of good bookstores?

2 thoughts on “Ten Marks of a Good Bookstore

    • Thanks. I do like the ideas of stores helping local authors. I’m hearing that it is a growing trend of publishers, authors, and booksellers to work more closely together, since all of them are facing the same market challenges.

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