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> Or you could host themed nights where a few academics give talks about why Subject X is interesting, and then you tell the audience they can buy/order books on Subject X from you at the end (and please do, it's how you pay for the free talk).

Only issue is why they would come to a book store to do this rather than do this sort of thing at MIT or Stanford. Maybe, integrate a coffee/snacks/cosy reading room along with book store?

I think you should host the talks in the style of a traditional "salon." It would be a social gathering with food and drink that also happens to let people expand their horizons.

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