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    So You Want to Open a Bookstore

    Given the robust economy and the insane cash presumably being raked in by independent bookstores everywhere, it’s natural that you and many like you would be thinking of becoming independent booksellers.

    So below, you will find the results of some calculations done by Annie Danger of Modern Times Bookstore in San Francisco. Modern Times is a medium-sized independent bookstore–about 3,700 square feet, and with five part-time staffers.

    These numbers should give a good idea of what it costs to run a bookstore. Note that about 41 percent of the cover price of a book goes to the vendor; the rest goes to the publisher, distributor, and author.

    Monthly Operating Costs
    Rent: $6,385
    Payroll: $11,675
    Health insurance: $1,997
    Utilities: $334
    Telephone: $159
    Internet and website: $179
    Booklog (computer inventory system): $63
    Operating costs: $2,777
    New inventory : $31,450
    Freight/postage: $1,392
    Total monthly expenses: $56,411

    Break-Even Point
    Hardcover books sold per day to break even: 182
    Paperback books sold per day to break even: 268

    In other words, they need to sell a hardcover book every 3.45 minutes, or a paperback every 2.38 minutes, to stay afloat.

    Adapted from the San Francisco Panorama, Issue 33 ofMcSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, which took the form of a one-time Sunday-sized newspaper. Published on Dec. 8, 2009, it was meant to demonstrate all the great things print journalism can (still) do.www.mcsweeneys.net

    Published on Apr 8, 2010


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