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Sector Spotlight: Bookstores

Find out what you need to know about the future of book shops!

While online shopping and digital books have disrupted the book sector, book lovers are still fairly nostalgic. This means that, if you do it right, you will have avid readers visiting your shop to buy their favourite tome, novel or guide. 

That is not to say, however, that you shouldn’t still use technology to make sure this happens. Read on to discover more about what it is like to be in the bookselling business in South Africa!


Although, when it comes to books, the market has changed completely, a lot of consumers are after more than just a book. Providing customers with an experience is something that independent bookshops have been doing and this is what customers will make a trip to your shop for. 

Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for experiences alongside their spending. This is great news for anyone who wants to run a bookshop. Think about having authors do readings at your shop. Create spaces where people can sit and read or offer coffee and cake for purchase. 

The aesthetics of your bookshop can be a big draw to potential customers. If you are able to create a unique and interesting space that customers love to come to, you are more likely to gain attention on social media and online.

Of course, this means that it is important that you do not disregard technology when it comes to your brick and mortar book shop. You will need to market yourself carefully online according to a curated brand. You could also consider adding an online shopping feature on your website.

No matter what you add, though, you will need to keep things on that brand and make it as seamless as possible. 


Focusing on creating a community is one way that independent book shops have kept customers needing their services. Going to a book shop can be of real value if you are able to get recommendations of niche books that you wouldn’t have found out about online. 

Catering for your customers’ tastes adds personalisation and a sense of community to the service that you offer. 

The books that people read have come to be an extension of their personalities and having physical books on a bookshelf is a desirable way of presenting a part of yourself to your friends and guests.

This is what you should be catering to if you own a book shop.

Local appeal

If you want to appeal to your local community, you should stock local books. Find books published in South African languages or stories about South African people as a way of creating a reason for customers to visit your shop. 

In an increasingly globalised world, creating a niche that appeals to your customers will give them a real reason to shop with you over somewhere like or Amazon.

Finding the right business 

Buying an existing business means taking all of this into account before putting in an offer. Your location will majorly impact whether or not you will be able to effectively focus on the above suggestions.

You should do as much research as possible about the demographic that you want to appeal to and whether this will be possible from the location of the shop you want to buy.

You will also want to be aware of the stock that will be coming with the purchase and how much capital you will need to buy new stock once you take over.

Anthea Taylor

About the author

Anthea Taylor is Content Producer at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.