With big box stores claiming the vast majority of the book retail market share, many small, independent book stores have been squeezed out of the marketplace. But the size of box stores and the wide variety of titles found on their shelves, widely considered a strength, may also be a weakness. In trying to carry something for everyone, they may lack the catalog depth and specialization that smaller stores can offer. Several niche markets may still be profitable for a bookstore owner.
Used and Out-of-Print
Bookstores that sell out-of-print and used books have a built-in market with collectors who are always looking to complete their collection of a certain book series or even find an old or original edition of a popular book. Hardcover editions of bestsellers are manufactured in fewer numbers, and therefore retain their value longer than their cheaper softcover editions. Putting your collection of used and out-of-print books online can attract interest from collectors internationally. As well, students looking for cheaper textbooks or novels for school support used-book stores to save money.
It was rare even at the turn of the 21st century for a chef to be considered a celebrity, but the rise of cooking shows on cable and speciality television channels has elevated some chefs to a new level of renown. Chefs capitalize on the popularity of their shows by frequently publishing cookbooks, sometimes several in a year. While box stores usually can carry only the latest of these offerings, a bookstore that specializes in them can carry a chef's entire library. In-store book signings are also a huge draw, and if you install a small kitchen demonstration area, some chefs will even perform live cooking classes and teach the secrets behind their latest recipes. A cut of the admission price and any book sales are added revenue for the bookstore owner.
Comic Books and Graphic Novels
Legions of devoted fans wait patiently every month for the next installment of their favorite superhero comic book. Aside from these monthly editions, many comics with longer story lines are collected in anthologies every eight to 12 months. Many award-winning, stand-alone stories published in hardcover are quite popular with comic book readers. In addition to the many current products available, adding a used section to your store can also be a strong revenue-generating idea. Older comics still sell extremely well among collectors, especially if they're in good or excellent condition.
If you live in a religiously diverse community, or even a large community that is of a singular faith, there may be an opportunity to open a store that offers literature pertaining to this clientele. Complementary products also provide additional revenue streams, such as music, calendars, holiday decorations, ornaments, cards, and other religious trinkets and keepsakes. In-store lectures by authors, scholars and clergy also offer the opportunity to increase your clientele and gain promotion from local media sources.