How to Buy Books for Opening a Bookstore

by Vicki A. Benge ; Updated September 26, 2017

When buying books to open a bookstore you will need to establish accounts with major distributors to fill your new book inventory. If you decide to stock related and accessory items such as audio books, magazines, bookmarks, calendars and gift items, the major distributors can also help you with these products.

IBPA's List

The Independent Book Publishers Association provides an online list of distributors and wholesalers that serve both small locally owned bookstores and larger franchise chain stores. You can read short descriptions of each company and contact the ones that interest you. Some are small distributors specializing in a particular genre. For example, The Cookbook Marketplace, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is, as the name infers, a national cookbook distributor. Others specialize in regional works, such as Sunbelt Publications, based in El Cajon, California, which distributes works about the Southwest.

National Book Network

To find sales representatives for the National Book Network who service your region, check out the NBN's contact list. The NBN also provides contact information for sales to Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

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In the NBN resource contact list and on IBPA's distributors and wholesalers list you will find international distributors such as Ingram Content Group, Inc. From this company you can order books to stock your shelves directly. Ingram also offers print-on-demand books and digital works. The company offers potential retail customers a brochure detailing the services they offer to retailers and how to contact them to set up an account.

Baker & Taylor

Baker & Taylor notes on its website that it is the world's largest book and entertainment distributor. It services customers worldwide through multiple centers in five states. You can contact Baker & Taylor through an online form for retailers or by calling toll-free 1-800-775-1800.

Used Books

If you plan to include used books in your opening inventory, then the number of options for purchases varies depending on where you live. In many communities, Saturday garage and yard sales are the norm throughout the summer months. Of course, not all these junk sales offer books, but many do at minimal cost.

Users of online auction sites such as eBay often post bulk lot sales of books at a reasonable cost. Bulk lots of children's books are especially common.


  • Don't Forget Shipping Costs
    When ordering used books online, be sure to figure freight into the total cost. For example, used bookstore outlets are another option for buying used books at cheap prices, but when shipping is almost four times the amount for one book and twice the price for any subsequent books, potential profits are greatly reduced.

About the Author

Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.

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