Call us today +61 7 55621088 (AU) OR +44 1384 442752 (UK)

Selling Books

How to Start a Business Selling Books

Book selling has changed dramatically over recent decades. Several things have changed:

  • Some of the book buying market has moved from buying printed books to buying electronic books.
  • Some of the book buying market has moved from finding information in books and magazines, to finding information on the internet.
  • The process of electronic self publishing has become accessible to all; hence more people than ever are self publishing their own work.

These changes have caused:
Fewer new print books to be published

  • Many print media publishers to reduce their business activity, and others to go out of business
  • Entrepreneurial, innovative booksellers to adapt to these changes in creative ways to develop new ways of selling books.

Where people used to buy their books from bookshops or even department stores, they now buy books online, and not just printed books but also ebooks as electronic downloads.


These are seemingly contradictory ideas, but they are also keys to success in this changed book selling environment. You just need to diversify the right things and specialise in the right things.

Diversify your Income Streams

Selling  from a shopfront is much more difficult than it once was, but some bookshops have survived by adding a café and gift shop, or other initiatives to diversify their sources of income. Others have started selling mail order print books and ebooks as immediate downloads online. Some may have added second hand books to their product range.

Specialising sells better today

If you can sell everything that is attractive to a target market, you will potentially be more attractive  and sell more to that customer. Eg. Someone who sells a wide range of titles on cooking, can target market to people interested in and involved with cooking. Someone who sells children’s books can target parents, and someone who sells text books can target colleges.


To sell books (printed or electronic), it is critical that you get inside the mind of the customer. Effective booksellers understand the psychology of their consumer. Some come to that understanding through experience alone, but more commonly it develops through a combination of study and experience. If you haven’t ever studied consumer psychology, you should at the very least do a short course on the subject (We offer one online – see ).
If you are an affiliate, this is also a course you are licensed to market.

When you understand the psychology of the customer; you can then properly develop a target marketing approach for selling books.


The type of clientele you build to buy books or ebooks will be affected by the type of product you can offer them; and the strength of their loyalty to keep returning to you for their books will be relative to your ability to satisfy their needs.

If you are only able to supply a small variety of titles in each of many disciplines, it will become difficult to build a loyal customer base. This difficulty becomes compounded if your titles are all readily available through lots of other outlets as well.

If you have millions of dollars to invest in stock, and can afford for a lot of it to sit without selling for years on end – then it may be viable to be selling a very broad variety of books.  For most small scale booksellers though; it makes more sense to specialise in a particular genre (eg. Food books, Gardening, Children’s books or Home Improvement books; etc). When you specialise; you can offer a wide variety of titles within a specialty; and target your marketing to people who have a very focused interest. Obscure, specialist titles are in demand by someone somewhere; but they are not attractive sales items to large businesses that are geared to selling bulk quantities of a single title.


We have over 120 different ebooks; but most are in a limited range of disciplines. If you want a bookshop that sells gardening ebooks, animal ebooks or psychology ebooks, etc: we can provide a range of titles within these focused disciplines and a few others, and a pathway for you to start bookselling with very minimal risk or investment -provided you have the time to commit to getting it up and running.


Copyright © 2019 ACS Distance Education | Website by Mantis Technologies