Laying out a bookstore so that shoppers feel welcome and know where to find their favorite titles is critically important to your success. Prior planning and knowledge of your clientele will help you make your bookstore a destination people will look forward to visiting.
Arrange your store so that the aisles between bookshelves are easy to enter, navigate and leave. For instance, make sure that the aisles are not so narrow that two people cannot comfortably pass each other.
Divide the books you sell into clear and easy-to-find genres. If you're not sure what genres are usually lumped together or how they're divided up, visit a local store or browse the book categories online retailers like Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble for guidance.
Save the largest expanses of shelf space for the most popular genres. Fiction tends to be the most heavily trafficked area in any bookstore, so make sure that you save a large wall or walls with an unbroken layout for that section.
Place specialty items like bookmarks, stickers, coffee mugs and other impulse items near the cash register. Not only are these items likely to catch a buyer's attention as they get ready to leave the store, it also helps to declutter the store if you organize gift items in one general area.
Take full advantage of display space, and don't rely on just bookcases and shelving for your displays. Tables, chests and small cabinets make excellent display furniture as well. It's not necessary to go overboard on display furniture, though, because most books today are great for display by virtue of their attractive or provocative covers. Very little is required of you to enhance that other than arranging them in an inviting way.
Depending on your own tastes and the market in your area, you may want to consider specializing in a particular niche. For example, many Christian bookstores thrive, as do stores that concentrate on mystery or science fiction books.