How To Start A Mini Library Business
Are you an avid reader and want to start profiting in a niche you’re passionate about? Learn how to start a mini library business.
Reading books has been becoming increasingly popular. There’s a huge influx of individuals reading personal development books among other genres. This is because society is getting tired of living the mundane 9 to 5 and wants to create a much more meaningful life. So, why not help contribute to this great cause?
There are a few ways you can find free locations to run your business. Let’s dive into those now.
1. Local businesses
There are plenty of local businesses who would love the extra foot traffic into their shops. Check around your local district for businesses you either frequently travel to or feel are a good fit with the personal development niche of books we’ll be focusing on.
You may even know somebody who runs a local business. This is ideal because you already have that close connection.
Look for somewhere that won’t charge you anything for setting up 1 bookshelf. Real business owners will see the opportunity in it for them too from the increased foot traffic.
2. Business Centers
This is another great option because these are often high traffic. Speak with who’s in charge of the business center to see if you can use a spare room or set up a bookshelf in the lobby.
3. Local Community Places
This is most likely the easiest option to get approval from outside of your own home. Many local community centers are in big support of educating the public. The only thing you should keep in mind is there may be some restricted hours when the community center is busy.
For example, if you’re hosting your mini library business in a local church you’ll likely have limited access on Sundays.
Look on your local classifieds under the free section for old bookshelves. There’s usually plenty of stuff in the free section that people just don’t have the time to take to a landfill. This is its own free online business idea which I will cover in-depth in a future post.
If you’re really stuck you could go to the back of a department store and find some extremely sturdy boxes that are at least ¼” thick cardboard & insert some dividers to separate your sections.
Spend 1 month checking all of your local thrift stores every 3 days as good titles go fast.
You’ll want to make sure you only purchase books that are in good condition because they will be getting some wear on them with people renting them monthly. Avoid books with faded or torn covers, loose binding, missing pages, stains, etc.
I recommend starting with just 50 books until you get into the swing of things
Really make your books stand out from what your local library has. Keep eyes peeled for brand new titles and highly popular books. Also, when local libraries do get popular or recent titles in they usually only get 1 or 2 copies. If you live in a bigger area there is likely still demand for these newer and popular books.
I’d recommend having 50% of your books ie. 25 of them to start as personal development books as the types of people interested in reading these generally would be more interested in your service and willing to pay a monthly membership fee.
You can split these up into 10 different business books, 5 health books, 5 relationship books (spouse, children/parents/friends/peers, etc), & 5 habit-forming/mindset books. You could have 5 spiritual/religious books as people tend to bind their sense of identity with these.
Another 5 could be extremely popular fiction books. 5 could be New York times best sellers. 5 could be romantic books as these have a very strong cult-like following. And lastly, even have 5 very popular full color many paged cartoon book such as Pokémon or popular stand-alone manga’s such as Apple seed
After some time people may be interested in borrowing these books again.
Add new books to your collection as you deem fit. Losing some subscribers will be normal as a lot of people at first will want to try out your services because it’s something new in town. Once you start to build up some long-term subscribers it’s then time to start adding new books as the demand requires.
Again, keep your eyes peeled for best sellers and insanely popular books at your local thrift stores. You only want the best of books in your store with the limited space you have.
Once some cash starts flowing in you may want to consider going to your local bookstore and purchasing some hot new titles to really start driving in new subscribers. If you’re strapped for ideas ask your friends and family.
The best way to get paid is to start a monthly subscription service. You don’t want to rely on donations because those are few and far between. Also, people might think differently if you’re taking the donation money to pay yourself vs being upfront that it’s a subscription service at first.
Starting with your 50 books you could start with a flat rate of $10 per month with at most 2-3 books taken out at one time for a maximum of 30 days. If these 30 days land into the next month they will have to come to you on the last business day of the month to renew their membership.
You could also offer a courtesy that they can have up to a free 5-7 days into the next month if they decide not to renew.
This may help change the subscribers’ mind on canceling if they had those extra 5 days to finish up the book they were borrowing and it really ended up speaking to them.
You’ll want to have late fees too. 25 cents per day per book seems like a good rate. That way you’re still profiting from the potential new subscriber who doesn’t yet have access to the book they wanted as the current holder still has said book.
It also is really smart to on top of the $10 monthly fee have a $5 deposit that they can get back whenever they cancel their subscription.
This way, if you have somebody run off with your books you won’t be out much if any because you bought the books second hand. The same fee would go if somebody lost 1 or all of the books. If they just lost 1 you’d require another $1.67 from them for their deposit, lost 2 and it’d be $3.33 and if they lost all 3 books you’d require a fresh $5 from them.
You’ll also want to set up a fee for damaged books. If something is damaged so much that nobody would want to rent it & you’d be forced to throw it out the same $1.33 fee can apply to each book.
If there ends up being minor damage like a slight tear use your best judgment whether they should pay a few or not, if it’s something like a ½” tear on a page I wouldn’t bother charging them. A spilled drink or drawing on the pages I would consider moderate damage which I would charge a $0.50 fee for.
That way you can pretty much replace the book likely with a different one from your local thrift store/flea market etc.
Now you may wonder how you go about collecting the cash payments and cost-effectively managing the business.
The best is when you can host your mini library in an already existing business that you know the owner personally. That way all you need to do is have the business owner register the new subscriber with a library card. Then take note in your tracking journal what books they took out at what date.
If you’re hosting your mini library business at a community center you may want to set up a money box. Generally, places that are community gatherings people are more honest. You’d have them place the $10 monthly fee into a box which they’d proceed to fill out their personal info. Then they’d grab a library card and jot down in the borrowers’ tracker what books they took on what day.
You can go and check the box/registration book 1-2x per week.
Having it in your house is a really nice option. Especially if you have a separate entrance you can have your potential subscribers come through. Setup your bookshelf in the closest room to whatever entrance you choose.
Having visiting hours is smart to not disturb you when you’re busy.
The first few weeks will be slow. I recommend posting on local community boards and online groups through Facebook and such. Your local town/city may have online advertisement space you can test out renting too.
There are plenty of ways to promote your new business. But the best is the exposure you get from hosting it in an already existing business. If you do choose to host it from your home I’d highly recommend creating a sign.
Have the sign on whatever side of your house faces the sidewalk. Make sure it’s nice and big. Don’t forget to add the hours of operation too. Also, keep it updated for holidays you may take.
With a little work and determination, you can learn how to start a mini library business for profit.
I hope you enjoyed learning about how to start a mini library business. If you did, please share the post with your friends and family. I’m sure they’ll find as much value in it as you did.
PS. Don’t forget to take action : )