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My parents have run a bookstore for 30 years, and I spent most of my late elementary school years and all of high school running it after school and on the weekends. It was and still is a very large (100,000 books) bookstore and now also a full restaurant (restaurant downstairs, bookstore upstairs -- in a 6,000 square foot space). Now, I work in tech.

Like your store, they also sell on Amazon, ABE Books, Alibris, etc. however, the majority of their revenue comes from people browsing in-store.

I'm not from Boston and haven't been to Lorem Ipsum but I have read that it's a great store based on reviews online.

But before thinking about fresh ideas, I'm curious to know where the problem stems from: are you not able to get enough people through your doors? are they browsing but not buying? what type of profit margin do you have on books generally (obviously this will differ depending on the type of book, etc)? Also, what is the demographic like where your store is located -- are there readers who will come in and buy a stack of books?

I truly believe there will continue to be a market for physical books, especially used, out-of-print, rare and aesthetically beautiful books that you crave to touch (ie. photography, cooking, art, etc.).

Despite working in tech, being 26, and having 3 iPads in my possession, I will continue to buy tangible books for that immersive, tangible experience.

What is dying, in my opinion, is this concept of going to a bookstore to find a particular item. The future of bookstores lies in the serendipitous discovery, particularly of books that offer some sort of aesthetic value, out-of-print, rare, etc. rather than rushing out to a local bookstore to buy the latest Stephen King, which will be consumed over a weekend.

Anyway, my point is that while yes, fresh ideas can tweak the ability to drive traffic, I think it's worth investigating those fundamental questions and whether you're well located to attract those with the disposable income who can spend $100 impulsively, that you're maximizing your profit margin, and whether you have the right stock that will covert browsers into buyers and attract people to come back.

Also think about opening up a coffee shop or something else that people will come to regularly to serve as a sort of lead generator to get people in the door. It could also be a book club, event, musician, etc. It doesn't need to generate much profit -- it needs to get people in the door who will then browse and buy books which, if planned properly, should have a VERY high profit margin (even while offering what look like bargain prices to customers).

Good luck and please hang in there! I hope next time I'm in Boston to be able to come and visit.




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