Have you ever thought it would be fun to own a bookstore? Did you think it would be a good way to make a living? Many people say "yes" to the first question, and hopefully nowadays people have no illusions about the second: you may be able to make a living as an independent bookstore owner but you won't get rich.
If you want some details on the finances of an independent bookstore, read this Washington Post article about Politics & Prose, one of the country's most respected independent stores. The owners were quite frank about the money:
- P&P grossed $6.8 million last year
- The average Barnes & Noble grossed $6.2 million last year
- About 8,000 people pay $20 a year to be a "member" at Politics & Prose (this entitles them to a 20% discount on certain books)
- 50 full time employees make $9-10 an hour plus health benefits
- Some managers earn $40,000 a year
- The two co-owners split $173,000 in salary and bonus
- After covering all their expenses (merchandise, payroll, marketing, etc) their net profit was $73,000
- Fortunately, the two store owners also own another building nearby, which they rent out for an annual profit of $18,000 each
So in this case, being the owner of an established, popular independent bookstore (plus a little real estate) can earn you about $105,000 a year-- not too bad, but you won't get rich. And with online shopping and electronic books growing ever more popular, running an independent bookstore isn't going to get any easier. But if you love books, and don't mind the hard work that is the flip side of the autonomy that comes with running your own business, there are definitely worse things you could do!