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I'm another person looking for some general info/advice on opening a bookstore. My idea: A genre-specific bookstore (sf/f/h/mys) specializing in foreign editions. I find that genre readers tend to be bigger collectors than general readers are. Many (myself included) like to pick up foreign editions of our favorite authors. But you can't find foreign editions in the local B&N. They're not so hard to find online, of course, but I'm WAY more apt to plunk down my money if I have the book in my hand than I am to buy the book online.
I've always wondered why you can walk into your local independent record store and find a whole section of import CDs, yet you don't find anything similar in bookstores. Why is this? Would the importing costs be too prohibitive? Would you have to sell a standard hardback for $50.00 to make a profit?
Would there be problems with the US publishers competing with the overseas publishers?
If anyone has any thoughts on this, please let me know. I'm open to hear all the reasons why it would never work.
I wish I had some advice for you. Best of luck, though!
I remember when one of the earlier Harry Potter books came out - the british edition was released a few weeks earlier than the American, and the American publisher actually adjusted their publishing schedule because so many people were buying the book on amazon.co.uk. What would have stopped a local bookstore from ordering the british version and stocking it a week or so before the American came out? I guess the problem would be that the American publisher wouldn't take too kindly to that kind of practice...but if you were a bookstore that specifically dealt in foreign editions, who cares?
That being said, the University Bookstore here in Seattle (affiliated with the University of Washington, but not a part of it) sells some British editions, particularly of F/SF titles. They seem to cost about twice as much as the American versions, but as you observed, some fans are willing to pay that much. Some are sold by special arrangement with publishers, but I think some are just gray market titles sold under the assumption that nobody will complain.
I`m also a bookseller, and also called Nick.
You would need to take advice on the legal side of things, I think.
Foreign editions go alright on the second-hand market in the UK, but only `alright`, not great. I think the ease of ordering books from overseas online has taken the `wow` factor out of that.
I presume you`re intending this as a type of niche marketing. I think you`d be better to keep a general stock but have a specialist section for collectors. One trouble with niche markets is, people`s requirements tend to be very specific within a given genre. The fact that a book is, say, a jazz book/an Islamic book/Irish literature or whatever, doesn`t always cut much ice, they tend to want their own particular sort of jazz book.
If you think it`s a goer then do it, by all means, but I`d say you need to do a lot of homework first.
Good luck to you anyway,