Jan Dean and I became friends because of our mutual love of books. That love of reading and our joint passion for everything English kept our friendship going for over a decade.
When I did seminars in Dallas, Jan and I always planned time together — time that usually involved at least one bookstore visit.
Like many avid readers, Jan found a way to share her love with others. She is the author of The Gardener’s Reading Guide, which lists hundreds of books on all aspects of gardening.
Her passion for cozy mysteries led her to start a specialized newsletter called Murder Most Cozy, which shared news about this genre. During the time she published that newsletter, Jan led tours to England designed especially for other cozy lovers.
The Cozy Crimes & Cream Teas Tours were created so lovers of cozy mysteries could experience the picturesque English villages where many cozies are set. There were also special events with cozy authors and numerous bookshop stops.
Obviously, Jan found a wonderful niche in the vast world of books.
If you’re a bookworm, perhaps you, too, can find a way to combine your love of books with a nifty profit center. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Read for a living. There are numerous ways to turn reading time into bottom line. For instance, many newspapers use freelancers to read and review new books.
Film producers and some publishers use the services of reader’s advisers to comb through piles of manuscripts and make recommendations about those that seem feasible for production.
Kathy Baxter is a professional librarian who found several outlets for sharing her expertise. For years, Kathy was a popular speaker on the subject of books and kids delivering book talks to librarians, teachers, parents and schoolchildren..
After Kathy submitted an article about her approach to giving booktalks to Library Journal, the industry publication, her visibility as an expert expanded even more. Not only did the magazine like her article enough to publish it, they asked her to do a regular column.
Kathy is the author of a book called Gotcha! Getting Kids Excited About Books. She was also a founder of the Maud Hart Lovelace Society, a national organization that brings together lovers of the Betsy-Tacy books.
Sell books. Next to opening a restaurant, running a dear little bookstore seems to be the most popular business fantasy around. As every booklover knows, independent bookselling has become a most unstable occupation. (Of course, if you have your heart set on it and financial backing, by all means ignore this warning.)
Even in this age of superstores and Amazon, specialty booksellers with a bit of imagination can carve out a place for themselves.
Collette Morgan opened a children’s bookstore called Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis with the intention of making her store “something a corporate mind would never dream up and that a large company could never sustain.” Her bookstore sells children a good time along with books and is thriving despite competition from the chains.
Because the world of books is so huge, the key to success for a small business is to become a specialist.
For many years, Jan Longone operated a successful mail order bookstore devoted to culinary subjects, tracking down books from around the world. Without ever advertising, Jan’s Wine and Food Library, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, built a devoted clientele, that included the late Julia Child and the M.F.K. Fisher.
“This business suits me perfectly,” she says. “We’re surrounded by good books, good food, travel and we’ve made friends around the world.”
Travel, cooking, scholarly, architectural and mystery specialty shops have flourished in many places; a mail order and/or Internet counterpart could offer specialty opportunities.
Antiquarian and other book specialists also market through book fairs and other book-related events, as well as conventions, special meetings and conferences.
If you market childrearing books, for instance, setting up shop at parenting conferences is a logical way to build your business. And, of course, selling books is a natural add-on profit center for many kinds of businesses.
While booksellers may not become fabulously wealthy, most agree that one of the great bonuses in selling books is that it brings them in contact with others who share their passion — making business the pleasure it should be.