If I owned a bookstore, I’d . . .

If I owned a bookstore, I’d . . . run a Signed First Edition Collector Night program offering hardcover, hand-signed, first edition print books from established and upcoming authors. For those interested in the Signed First Edition Collector Night program, I’d offer a printed six-month “menu” of book selections, showcasing about six noteworthy book titles per month (36 total titles) from which to choose. Collectors would indicate (pre-order) which books they’d like to collect – buying all, or a few, or just one book per month.

Then, once per month, on the “Signed First Edition Collector Night,” I’d wrap the pre-ordered books in beautiful parchment paper and bookbinder’s twine and invite “Collector Night” patrons to a special wine tasting among the stacks. The collectors’ books would be waiting for them on a beautiful antique monk’s table and to thank them for their patronage, I’d offer an evening of private, after-hours browsing and book buying while the store is closed to the public.

And I know this program sounds a bit snobbish – but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be a celebration of signed, first edition books. Plain and simple. The books don’t have to be rare or “uber literary” or hard to acquire. This is just a focused “type” of book event – sorta like an art opening. The kind of book event Amazon can’t hold. Because, well, you know. It’s hard to drink wine and talk books when the bookstore is a computer screen. And gosh, how much does a hardback book cost? $24.95? This isn’t going to break the bank. Heck, I spend more than that on chicken nuggets when my four kids are in the car.

Types of books I’d offer each month in my Signed First Edition Collector Night program:


Imagine you’re a “Signed First Edition Collector” at my bookstore, which of the above books would you like to collect as a hardcover, hand-signed, first edition print book for your bookshelves? Leave your order in my comment section. It’s fun to pretend.

One more. (Consider yourself spared. My actual “If I owned a bookstore, I’d . . .” list runs quite long.)

If I owned a bookstore, I’d . . . offer the services of a Private Library Curator to assist with building and installing custom libraries in my customers’ homes. Oh, now, settle down. I’m not talking about “fancy” libraries in “fancy” homes (although, I wouldn’t turn anyone away!), I’m talking about helping parents establish a top-notch library for their child’s bedroom. Or helping a geography buff discover new books on the topic.

I curate a couple of small collections in my own home library. Nothing fancy. Just shelves dedicated to a type of book I like to read. I’d love it if my local indie bookstore offered curating services . . .

Book collections don’t need to be big or rare or expensive to establish. They need to be special. That’s all. And who better to help you build your collection than the hand sellers of the trade?

Imagine a curated collection of books for a child’s room or cabin get away.


A curated collection can fit on one bookshelf. This shelf would make a great holding place for books about maps, travel, politics . . . OR! Books organized by state – either the state in which it was set – or the state in which the author lives. Super cool!


If I owned a bookstore, I’d . . . do lots of things. For one, I’d do whatever it takes to make my customers feel cherished and unique. I’d elevate the book-buying experience and I’d foster a world where book lovers feel supported in their never-ending pursuit of the perfect book.

Damn I wished I owned a bookstore.

32 thoughts on “If I owned a bookstore, I’d . . .

  1. Now you have me thinking – what if I owned a book store. Several book stores I loved years ago are gone now, but they were special beyond words. One had books displayed on antique cupboards with vintage china and silver tucked around. You could buy the books or the antique pieces. The other shop had book signings for up and coming local authors (who became big names over the years as Southern writers). The shop was in an old house with crooked floors. The champagne flowed freely on those special author nights. I did write about a book shop in the Christmas anthology I published titled a Cup of Christmas. That shop was a combination of all I love sprinkled with magic. May copy your idea, Julie, and write a blog post on how my shop would be. I love your ideas. Can I join your club???

    • You’re already in my club! I added you without your consent. Actually, you’re on my board of directors. But you won’t get paid. You’re just doing it for the glory. Now you’ll be forced to come and drink wine and pick up your parchment-wrapped signed first editions every month.

      And yes, write that blog post! I’d love to see what you’d do with your bookstore. I’m planning to hang artwork and paintings on the actual bookshelves. And I’d love to have antique typewriters scattered throughout the store so my customers can sit down and type till their heart’s content.

      Bookstores are magical places, that’s for sure!

      • I wrote about my favorite bookshop from years ago for the hop. Will write later this week about how I’d do my very own shop. Did give it a try in 2011 out of my antique shop – but a book shop total vision is something else! I’d like to help you pick the artwork for yours. We’d have a blast.

  2. That philosophy of elevating the book-buying experience sounds like a wonderful way to go. I think my bookstore would either need to have a huge food focus (non-fiction foodie books as well as that “kitchen fiction” we’ve talked about, complete with cooking demos, pop-up fruit stands and of course an extensive gourmet cafe)… or maybe some kind of spa-like experience, where browsing for books is promoted as a form of meditation. Pedicures and books go together quite nicely, after all…
    Fun post, Julie!

    • Great ideas, Pauline!

      I often think, what do people need on a weekly basis – maybe incorporate that into the bookstore to increase foot traffic and walk-ins? Hm . . . now what would that be . . . dry cleaning and dog food?

  3. If I were a millionaire, I would spend the rest of my life in a Very Special Bookstore of my own making, not caring about profits (hence the millionaire requirement). With at least one Official Very Special Bookstore Cat.

  4. At the back of the book shop would be a coffee shop, a tea and cake section, and a wine bar – Jayne Denkers bookstore cat would have it’s own comfy chair, and several companions.
    I think I would have to live above the bookshop as it would be such a lovely place to be.

    • I ALMOST WROTE THAT, Maureen! The part about living above the bookstore. That would be amazing.

      And yes, Jayne’s cat is invited to snuggle up on a chair so long as he/she gets along with my English Labradors.

      I’d love to have a beautiful puzzle table, too. Grab a glass of wine, sit down to solve a puzzle . . .

  5. Love it, think you should do it, & it’s not snobbish at all. Sounds like a very classy affair; something different to do for a night out. My husband and I once talked about owning a bookstore-gallery combo – unique nooks throughout the store where patrons could enjoy a book while seated between sculptures.

    • That’s exactly what my husband and I crave. A bookstore/wine/event destination to go to on date night. We like buying art and furniture so I always imaged we’d have art and dressers with books in the drawers and lots of chandeliers (etc) among the books and wine. He also loves mountain biking and we both enjoy craft beer and bourbon. Wonder how we could incorporate the biking, the beer, and the bourbon? Hmmm… Customers would walk in and say, “What in the H*LL is going on here?!?”

  6. Don’t incorporate it. Make that the exhibit itself (beer, biking, & bourbon). That way you can maintain two different creative audiences, each remaining true to themselves and able to experience either ‘side’.

    • Excellent point. The mountain bikers (and I love them all!) might get the books dirty. And the bourbon lovers might get a little rowdy for the book lovers. Hm…

  7. Oh, I love the art, dressers, and chandeliers! And if you’re including biking, beer, and bourbon my husband says he’d love to visit too.

    • The best of both worlds! Under one roof. In a very confusing retail store. Filled with strange and odd people crossing paths . . . wondering . . . “Why’s he here?”

  8. Oh I just love all these ideas and would definitely visit your bookshop. I don’t know any of the books you’ve put up unfortunately so I’d let you surprise me with one 🙂 That’s kind of a cool idea too – you know the ‘blind date with a book’ thing.

    • Yes, I love the ‘blind date with a book’ thing. I’ll have to do that, too. (There’s no end to the things I’ll pile on!) A local bookstore runs that program. I get so tempted by those brown paper packages . . . !

  9. I would definitely shop at your bookstore. I love first edition clubs. And that state shelf idea made me salivate. Happy Reading!

    • Totally agree! I love geography and have a weakness for interesting maps. Took one look at that state shelf and FELL IN LOVE.

      So wonderful to hear you’d visit my (nonexistent) bookstore. Thank you! The more the merrier I always say.

      Cheers! 🙂

  10. I have always wanted to own a bookstore, but my husband said I could never compete with the larger bookstores, and now, of course, amazon. Still wish I could have a lovely bookstore.

    • I certainly have enough books in my house for a starting inventory (!) and I was JUST clicking through new releases on an indie bookstore site… I daydream about opening a bookstore everyday. Sure would be wonderful. 🙂

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