How To Start A Bookstore Online In 2023 (In-depth Guide)

How To Start A Bookstore Online - Yaguara

Building a profitable online bookstore is not a cakewalk until you have complete insights into the industry. It isn’t the same as building other online stores like clothing, fashion accessories, or utensils. 

When you start an online bookstore, a systematic approach is required, from choosing a niche to sourcing and marketing the books. 

Online businesses are becoming more popular these days as a result of busy lifestyles. Most people shop for books online to save time. It also helps people get their products at convenient times without having to travel. 

The benefit of selling online is that you do not have to restrict yourself to a certain location. You can sell books worldwide.

If you’ve clicked on this article, it’s more likely that you’re interested in creating an online bookstore. The following in-depth guide will walk you step-by-step through the process of How To Start A Bookstore Online.

 Read the article upto the end to get a clear idea about online bookstores.

How Many Types of Online Bookstores Can You Start?

There are three different types of online bookstores you can choose to start. You can either take one type to start, or you can use all three types of bookstores to sell books. Here I have explained all three types in detail below:

  • New Bookstore: This type of bookstore focuses on selling only new books that are getting printed. To start this type of bookstore, you need to invest heavily because most of the types, you deal with the publishers and have to pay for the books in advance to maintain your inventory. You also need to find which type of genre most users are interested in buying; otherwise, you’ll lose money quickly with this type of store.
  • eBook Bookstore: In this type of bookstore, you will be selling digital versions of physical books, which users can download on any device they want and read them anywhere from their devices. eBooks are becoming popular and preferred over physical books, so it would be the best option for you to start an ebook bookstore, and it also costs less than the other two types of bookstores.
  • Used Bookstore: In this type of bookstore, you need to sell used books, and it is the easiest way to start an online bookstore and start selling books. You can get used books at book fairs, garage sales, and eCommerce platforms. You also don’t need to spend that much to acquire these books, and you can also sell them at a good profit if the books are in good condition.

Steps On How To Start A Bookstore Online In 2023

Starting a successful online bookstore requires several steps, including researching how bookstores work, choosing a niche, establishing a store, sourcing books, and marketing. I have summarized all these exact steps below to help you understand the process of starting an online book store.

How To Start A Bookstore Online - Bookstore Online

1. Do thorough Research On Bookstore Business

Having complete industry knowledge is essential when starting any business. Visit local bookstores and understand their operations, inventory, in-demand niche, etc. It helps you get an overview of the industry. 

Meet the successful bookstore owners and discuss the book industry in-depth. Understand the main success factors and what works and does not work in the industry. It helps you develop a practical understanding of how the bookstore works.  

Try to meet avid readers from different niches and discuss the problems they face in buying books. You can understand the weak spots of the book business and build your business around solving these problems.

Considering all these steps can help you determine where there is a need for progression in the bookstore industry.

2. Pick A Niche 

After researching Bookstore Business, Picking a niche is a tricky decision. 

The book industry is quite competitive. Therefore you should be selective when choosing a niche. Sell the demanded books that are difficult to find everywhere. You can provide your customers with a wonderful shopping experience through fast shipping and branding strategies.

Pick one niche and serve a particular group of readers and gain trust. So many book lovers have particular interests in Crime, Fairy tales, fables, folk tales, Fantasy, Historical fiction, Horror, etc. Identify which category of books are challenging to buy, then select your niche accordingly.

3. Choose a Trustworthy Book Sourcing 

There are various ways to sell books online. Some of them are self-publishing, used books, selling ebooks, audiobooks, subscription-based ebooks, etc. You can choose as per your interest and demand in the market. 

When opening a  bookstore, it is necessary to choose a Distributor, wholesaler, or publishers to source your books. Make sure you choose a trustworthy supplier so that you can have the chance of getting discounts or other benefits. Building a healthy relationship with your supplier is crucial to long-term growth. It is important to note that working with a  single supplier can help you easily manage the process. 

4. Create Your Online Store 

Creating a good-looking and user-friendly online store is the most important to attract customers. There are multiple online store-building platforms in the market to make your work easier without knowing the technical skills. Some of them are Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, Weebly, WooCommerce, Squarespace, etc. 

You can create a website with a few simple steps by yourself or hire a website designer. Choose a suitable theme and design all the required pages. Add all the products with proper details like image, price, author, the number of pages, etc.  After adding the products, add the shipping and payment gateway details according to your requirements. Now your online bookstore is live to ship the books.

5. Market Your Online Book Store

The online bookstore market was worth USD 17.7 billion in 2019 and is estimated to grow 5.8% from 2020 to 2027 worldwide. So, now is the best time to level up the idea of the online book store. 

Market Your Online Book Store

(Image- Grand View Research)

Getting sales and growing your business depends on marketing, which is fundamental to every business.  It would be best if you kept yourself updated on digital marketing strategies to make the business successful.  

You can use a variety of marketing methods. Some popular ones are Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, Paid ads, Social Media, Email Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, etc. But you can start with the effective ones in the online bookstore business. 

The best way to start with no investment is by creating social media handles for the bookstore. You can share industry knowledge to attract people of the same taste. It helps you build a community of like-minded people. 

Email marketing is a great way to make your target audience aware of your brand. You can create a weekly or bi-monthly newsletter to stay connected with your existing audience. You can also send alerts during the sale season, discounts, or coupon codes. It helps to grab the audience’s attention immediately.

SEO is the best marketing practice for people who is looking for a one-time investment and recurring sales. You can optimize your website according to SEO best practices to get maximum traffic to your store. It involves optimizing websites using proper keyword usage in home pages, product pages, blog URLs, etc. 

Blogging is one of the best organic practices to drive traffic to your website. You can educate your target audience with information about valuable knowledge allowing them to explore your online store.

You can also use marketing methods like Affiliate marketing, paid ads, SMS marketing, etc. It can help to attract customers by educating them and creating awareness about your business. 

A Few Practical Examples

Here are some of the inspirations you can take from some of the online bookstores which have started in recent years. It helps you understand their journey and make yours better.

The Painted Porch 

The Painted Porch is an online bookstore started by Ryan Holiday. They had no idea about the business when they started during the pandemic but they figured out the steps to make it successful. Additionally, they use a variety of marketing approaches to sell their books, including podcasts, social media, community development, etc. 

The Painted Porch 

Along with the online business, they also operate a unique physical store in Bastrop, Texas.  It is built from the inspiration of well-known bookshops. The Painted Porch is now one of the top-rated online bookstores with various types of audiences. They also have a youtube channel called Daily Stoic, with 739K subscribers, where you can get most of their ideas.

Coastal Books

Danica Sommerfeldt started  Coastal Bookstore in Coquitlam, BC in 2020. Even though she was not confident about how the business worked, she strived hard to make it the best bookstore, and it went well.  Danica believes in catering to different audiences according to the demand in the market. It leads to growth in the business.

Coastal Books

She mentions that she will spend more time researching and understanding the audience’s expectations. Along with books, they sell other products like puzzles, candles, gifts, local art, and over 40 varieties of artisan chocolate. Coastal Bookstore mainly emphasizes on Canadian content and diverse representation to attract Canadian book lovers. 

These two recently opened online stores have grown gradually by catering to the right audience.

Here are links to some of the top bookstores you can take inspiration. 

  1. The Painted Porch
  2. Coastal Books
  3. Book Wagon
  4. Barnes & Noble

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Final Takeaways: How To Start A Bookstore Online (2023)

When you decide to start your first online Bookstore, it is not going to be the easiest journey. But you can make it work by believing in your business and following all the steps discussed in the article. Focus on providing value for your customers by providing unique and rare books with amazing shopping experiences. It will help your store get identified and stay in customers’ heads for the next purchase. This is our final take on How To Start A Bookstore Online. I hope this article was useful in knowing all the steps needed while starting an online book store. 


Is there any demand for online bookstores?

Yes, there is plenty of demand for online bookstores. Not everyone can buy their favorite books offline, so they go online to find them, and that’s when these online bookstores come in handy.

Is it beneficial to start an online bookstore?

Yes, it is beneficial to start an online bookstore. You can work on your store from home and reach a large audience from there. You don’t need to go out to make your bookstore successful.

What challenges would I face while starting an online bookstore?

The biggest challenge of starting any business is investing your money and time in the business. If you don’t invest much into the business, then it will not go anywhere. You also need to market your bookstore properly to reach the targeted audience.

How much would it cost to start an online bookstore?

The cost completely depends on you, like on which platform you want to create your online bookstore and how much inventory you want to carry. You can get started with a few hundred dollars or spend thousands of dollars, and it completely depends on you.

Can I start an online bookstore without any investment?

Yes, you can start an online bookstore with almost no money, but it will take you much longer to start receiving any revenue from it, and you will need to put in a lot of effort as well.

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