“The book trade has suffered from old business models where you take things on consignment and the distributor gives you about 30% of the net profit. You don’t have to pay anything till you sell something. This has always been the model as there is little risk: you don’t have to come up with the money first. However, a small bookshop like ours will never get the traffic and sales volume as bigger bookshops, so we decided to buy the books, but asked the supplier for 40% instead of 30% per book.
Once we buy the books, not everything will sell—there are hits and misses—but it puts you in the mode of selling. We are very pressurized to sell because it is ours and we can’t return it, so it forces you to be committed to the titles, display them, and use promotions. We try not to shelve all the books: we have them facing outwards for a more visual experience.
We are always looking for titles that are meaningful and worthwhile, and then hope everything sells; after all, we can’t return them, no way.”