How to start an eco-friendly used bookstore business

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: June 6, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Many “green” businesses have popped up in recent years. 

There’s no doubt about it, and there is a massive market for eco-friendly products and services. 

Used book store business is one of those! 

The used book industry has changed over the last few decades from brick-and-mortar stores to online stores. 

Also, with more people starting to prefer used books to new ones, this business has many potentials. 

The difficulty that used books business start-ups may face is 

  • Finding the right resources 
  • Knowledge on how to get started.

In this blog post, I have compiled some information on how you can start your own eco-friendly used book store business and make money off of it!

Steps to start an eco-friendly used book store business

Step 1 – Eco-friendly used book store business plan

Defining a viable business plan is vital for any business. 

It helps you identify the potential risks and opportunities of your planned eco-friendly used book store. 

It also tells how to market it in order to reach your target audience.

What types of books do you sell?

Decide if you are going to sell any specific type of used books or everything in general. 

This can help you identify your target audience. That way, you can easily plan your marketing strategies.

It can be from fiction books, school books, magazines, etc.

Sourcing your eco-friendly used books

It is essential to list out what are all the possible places you can get your used books from. 

There are many sources available to eco-friendly used book store owners. 

You can even source used books for free or at minimum prices initially.  

Here are a few ways to source your eco-friendly used books.

  • Ask for donations from friends and family members or other people in the local community. 
  • Ask your suppliers for new books at a lower price than normal retail prices. 
  • Reach out to schools & other educational organizations for used books. They may need help disposing of new old textbooks that still hold some value.
  • Find used books from garage sales and flea markets. 

This way, you may be able to start up a business with low operational cost while doing something eco-friendly for the environment too!

Yes, it will take some time to collect these items. 

But, this initial investment of time & resources will save money in the future. 

It will help build your store’s inventory at no charge. And most importantly, it is eco-friendly).

Decide the type of book store – online or offline?

As an eco-friendly used book store business, you must clearly decide where you are going to sell used books? Online, Offline, or both?

This helps you plan the type of books you can sell, the costs involved, and other essential strategies.

Step 2 – What are the costs involved in opening a used book store?

Depending on whether you sell used books online or offline, the cost involved differs.

For an online eco-friendly used book store, the costs include –

  • The initial investment for a domain name
  • Hosting services
  • Outsourcing costs (if any)
  • Website maintenance

For an offline eco-friendly used book store, the costs include –

  • Renting retail space or buying one
  • Insurance costs
  • Utilities and other accessory costs
  • Staffs and employee salaries

Step 3 – Identify your target audience.

Identify who are your ideal customers, where they are from, and what type of books they prefer. 

If your target audience is local school students, opening a physical store in your area can be a good choice. 

Primarily, anyone who reads a lot will be a potential customer for a used book store. 

They read more so need more books. Eventually, they would love to buy preloved books that are cheap.

Step 4 – Register your business.

To register your business legally, here are a few steps you may need to do.

Name your business 

Give your eco-friendly used book store business a proper name. Make sure it is catchy and unique.

Register your business name with the proper government agencies to make sure no one else has applied for that name before you do. 

You can register a trademark if necessary, but many times this isn’t needed because of how common “used books” are in society already 

Form a legal entity

You may need to form a legal entity depending on your business structure. 

It can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.

File articles of incorporation with your state’s Secretary of State or Corporation Commission (or other governing agency) 

Register your business for proper tax filing

Get an Employer Identification Number from IRS as soon as possible so you can file taxes without any problems. 

The process may differ depending on your state laws.

used book store business

Step 5 – Open a business bank account.

If you are doing the used book store business on a small scale, a personal bank account will do. 

However, an exclusive business bank account can be beneficial in ways including:

  • Reduced risk for your personal assets in case of any legal issues with your business
  • Easy for tax paying and other legal formalities
  • As an eco-friendly business, you can avail of some subsidies (if any)

Step 6 – Focus on branding

As an eco-friendly business, your used book store can grow way better when appropriately branded. 

This can help you reach a large audience.

Some of the ways you can define your brand include –

  • Focus on the design principles that cater to your business. Eg- natural designs or minimalistic graphics. 
  • Logos & other colors – Make sure they are relevant and creative.
  • Branding language – Use quotes and slogans for your business that are relatable and intuitive
  • Focus on a specific target audience from day one so that the branding can stay consistent across all channels.
  • Decide which medium will work best for you – offline or online since both have their pros and cons. 
  • Be consistent with your social media platforms. 
  • Make sure your brand name depicts your eco-friendly principle.

Step 7 – Set up your business website.

No matter if you sell in a physical store or online store, having a proper business website can be beneficial. 

  • Buy a domain name – Make sure it’s the same as your brand name. 
  • Choose a green hosting provider like GreenGeek, DreamHost, etc
  • Select an easy-to-use website builder like WordPress, Godaddy, Wix, etc
  • If you are planning for an online store, set your store and theme. Here you need to integrate your website with a suitable e-commerce platform. Some options include Shopify, woo commerce, big commerce, etc
  • You can either build it by yourself or hire a professional website designer to do these works for you.
  • Upload your products and describe them
  • Make your site Search Engine friendly for better organic reach.

Step 8 – Launch your eco-friendly used book store

If you are launching the store offline, you may need to set up your physical store. 

  • Rent a space or buy a proper space for your used book store
  • Create interiors or alter them in a way to showcase your used books
  • Make sure there’s enough room for browsing through items at leisure 
  • Set up an inventory
  • Display the books correctly in your store
  • Have a system for business transactions

If you are launching an online store, 

  • Launch your website with all your products listed for sale
  • Make sure you have a secure payment gateway
  • Plan a system to take orders and do shipping without any issues.
  • Partner with an eco-friendly delivery service.

Step 9 – Marketing 

Marketing is essential for any business. 

Some marketing methods you could use for your eco-friendly used book store business include –

  • Blogging – You need to create at least one blog post a month and should write content. Topics can include why it’s good to buy second-hand goods, what your store does in terms of sustainability, etc…
  • Connect with organizations that work closely with green initiatives. Try to provide them with discounts so they get more exposure for their causes 
  • Join local environmental groups so you can improve your community environment while promoting your own brand name. Provide coupons during events sponsored by these groups and encourage people to support each other.
  • Influencer marketing – Collaborate with social media influencers or blogging influencers. You can do a small barter collaboration or sponsor a giveaway to get some reach.

How much money can you make owning a used bookstore?

As a used book store owner, you will make quite a profit for each sale. Of course, you will need to have a lot of inventory and book knowledge to be successful.

Since these used books are available at meager prices, selling them at a small profit margin will be beneficial.

Apart from the money it makes, it is also very environment-friendly.

Tips for a profitable eco-friendly used book store business

The eco-friendly used book store business is indeed less profitable than regular book stores. 

However, here are a few ways to make your used books business more successful.

  • Buy directly from sellers rather than intermediate stores. This can reduce your broker costs.
  • Try getting books from businesses or organizations that are planning to downsize.
  • Make sure the quality of the used books is reasonably good. This will ensure your customers will keep coming back for more.
  • Be familiar with current prices of books. 
  • Try sourcing original copies of old or rare books. You can sell these books for a good price to rare book collecting enthusiasts.


As you can see, starting an eco-friendly used book store is not as difficult as it may seem. 

All the information needed to be successful in this venture has been laid out for you to find resources and where to sell your books.

With a proper plan and an inventory of used books in place, you will be good to go.

Eco friendly product stamp.

Previous Post

How to start selling eco-friendly products online.

Next Post

How To Start a Green Waste Recycling Business

Green Waste Recycling Business