Ingram Blog

Ingram’s Guide to Opening a Bookstore

If you are a true booklover you have most likely dreamt about opening your own independent bookstore. You’ve sifted through a list of book puns to pick out the perfect store name and you can envision your unique window display that is sure to catch everyone’s attention. So, what is stopping you from making this dream a reality?

Independent bookstores play a major role in communities across the U.S. and we are here to help you succeed. Whether you are considering opening a bookstore in the future, completing the launch process, or are a bookstore veteran looking for new tools to help you succeed in opening an additional location, we offer a variety of independent bookstore resources to help you make your book industry endeavors successful.

As a family-owned business that has been a part of the independent bookstore community for more than 50 years, we want to share our decades of experience and expertise in the book industry with indies across the U.S. If you aren’t quite sure how to get started, here are a few things to consider:

The very first thing you should do is to scope out any existing independent bookstores in your area to determine where your store will fit in the local market. Take note of the design of other indie bookstores, the genres of books on their shelves, their pricing, the frequency of visitors, and the type of customers who shop there. Use this information to decide on a realistic vision for your indie bookstore and how you will implement unique characteristics to attract customers. If you are opening the first local bookshop in your area, consider looking for inspiration from bookstores who have a similar community landscape as your neighborhood. You can use the bookstore finder from IndieBound as a research tool to scope out far away bookshops.


  • Create a Strategic Business Plan - A great business plan is essential to obtaining funding for opening a successful independent bookstore. Create an outline of the goals and vision for your bookstore, and how you plan to achieve them. The Small Business Administration, in addition to the American Booksellers Association (ABA) offers a multitude of resources to help create your business plan. Consider your expected margins, how many and what type of employees you might need to hire, what sidelines (gift & game items) you will carry, how you are going to create demand for business in your initial opening phase, etc.
  • Stock Your Shelves – Choosing the books for your indie bookstore can be based on a variety of things including market competition, interests of customers in your area, and even your own interests. You must decide whether you want to focus on a specialty such as rare books or children’s books, or whether you want to offer a variety of books about any topic, by any author. Don’t forget about your online selling presence, too, for those who would rather shop from home. Partnering with the right independent bookstore wholesaler and independent bookstore distributor is the key to your success.
  • Market Your Independent Bookstore – Efficient marketing is crucial for your new business. From print ads in your local newspaper, trade magazines, and newsletters to advertising on t.v., radio and internet - get the word out any way you can! But creativity is key, especially when you want to make your store standout in the community. You want your customers to remember your store based on their experience and memories created there. Make your bookstore the talk of the town by hosting speed dating events, author nights or happy hours to get your brand to become a household name in your community.
  • We Got You Covered-We understand the struggles of growing and managing your indie bookstores. We want to see your bookstore skyrocket to the top and we have the tools and resources that can make this happen.

The exclusive  Booklove Rewards Program program triggers rebates upon reaching a specified annual sales goal. We provide monthly updates to help you reach your targeted goal, and we can’t forget to mention the 5% discount you receive on your book orders. Basically, the more booklove you spread, the more profit you make—and who doesn’t love spreading the #booklove?

Let’s face it, sometimes ordering inventory can be overwhelming, but we want to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Leave the dirty work to us! We assist independent bookstores with their book purchasing decisions by providing dozens of curated lists via newsletters, emails, rep referrals, through our online ordering platform ipage, and via our Ingram Advance catalog. Finding the right books for your unique customers is easy with Ingram Advance, a comprehensive title listing and purchasing tool published monthly, making ordering decisions simple and quick.

It’s the 21st century, which means we want things at our door faster than you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” By consolidating orders into one shipment we can get you the books you need with speed and efficiency. There is no such thing as too many books, so we let you choose from over 16 million titles in our inventory.

 Orders from your website are processed in one of Ingram’s distribution centers and shipped to your customer’s doors—as if they came directly from you. Reduce inventory cost while also eliminating the need to receive, repack, and reship.


Our easy-to-use online search, order, and account management platform, iPage, acts as your comprehensive source for complete title information, product images, stock status updates, ordering, publicity, the latest industry news, and much more.

Easy peasy, huh? We want to continue to spread the #booklove to all communities and want to make it as simple as possible. With these helpful tips and tools, you can continue to grow your independent bookstore, build profits, and attract customers—and we would love to be part of your amazing journey.

Opening a bookstore? We are #IngramForIndies and our goal is to help all indie retail stores thrive by providing great content and helpful tools they can utilize on a daily basis. Check out our ROSI (Recommended Opening Store Inventory) program, which is designed to help alleviate new store stress. ROSI uses world-class Ingram title data managed by a team of experienced retail pros to ensure you enter the marketplace with confidence.