How Much Capital Do You Need To Open a Bookstore?

If you love books and you love the idea of running your own business, you may have thought about opening a bookstore. 

How much capital do you need to open a bookstore? 

Opening a bookstore requires close to $25,000. 

According to the US Census Bureau, there are over 6,045 bookstores in America as of 2019. While e-books are taking over the industry, many people still love the traditional page-turners of reading a book cover to cover. 

Startup Costs

How Much Capital Do You Need To Open a Bookstore?

While the Friends of the Houston Public Library approximate that bookstore startup costs are about $23,000, for sake of more even calculations, we will round this figure to $25,000. 


Unless you have the resources to purchase the building outright to operate your bookstore, you will have to pay rent on your bookstore’s building. 

Rent can usually range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the local real estate and what the landlord decides to charge. 

We will say rent is in the mid-range of $2,000. 


Utilities range in price dependent upon the state and city in which you are operating. 

Here are some estimated utility costs for the first month of your business to get an idea of how much you will be paying to keep the building functional:

  • Electric: $350
  • Water: $70
  • Sewage: $25
  • Landline telephone: $30

Hence, your total utilities for the first month will be about $475. Some of the above prices are based on what ICTSD has found as average bills. 

Let’s round this figure to $500 for sake of even calculations. 

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Of course, as a bookstore, you will need bookshelves to display, store, and market your available book titles. 

Shop around to find the best deals on bookshelves at local wholesalers. The number of bookshelves you need will depend on your opening inventory for the bookstore. 

Let’s say you will spend about $5,000 on bookshelves. 


Signage is needed inside and outside of your bookstore to market your store promotions, show book prices, and designate the different sections throughout the store. 

Outside signage will include:

  • A signage chalkboard to customize the promotion you want to show customers before they enter the door. 
  • Your current promotion(s) are posted on the front window.
    • Can be posted from the inside. 
    • Place on the outside of the bookstore only if waterproof signage. 

Inside signage will include:

  • Price tags. 
  • Promotion posters. 
  • Book category signs. 
  • Special event signage. 
  • Directional signage for customers to find different sections. 

All of your signage will cost about $3,000

Business Cards

Business cards are needed to pass out to new clients as they learn about your bookstore. Be sure that your business name, address, phone number, email, and company website are legible on the front of your business card. 

If you prefer, you can put a QR code on the back of your business card that takes clients to your company website. As you build your business, you can have people order books online for delivery or curbside pick-up. 

Business cards may cost you $300.


The logo is the symbol behind your business. When your customers seek your bookstore logo, they will instantly think of your business.

Hire a freelance logo designer. Scout for talent on Fiverr, Upwork, or another freelancing platform to get started. Once you have interviewed and funneled through potential candidates and made your final choice, you can discuss with him or her ideas for your logo. 

A freelance logo designer may charge you upwards of $200 to create your logo.  

First Month’s Operating Expenses

How Much Capital Do You Need To Open a Bookstore?

It’s important to have a surplus for your first month’s operating expenses. 

We already calculated the first month of utilities to be around $500. 

Let’s say that the first month’s operating expenses will be about $4,000 give or take. Rounding higher is better than going by a low number and having the funds exhausted too quickly. 

Marketing the Grand Opening

While there are many free ways to market your grand opening, you may resort to some paid promotions to get the word out faster. 

You can market your grand opening by:

  • Promoting it on your social media handles such as Facebook and Instagram. 
  • Posting flyers on local bulletin boards:
    • Doctors offices. 
    • Libraries. 
    • Shopping plazas. 
    • In mom and pop shops that don’t mind. 
  • Create a press release to put in local newspapers. 
  • Have a radio announcement made on your local news station. 
  • A commercial on your local news channel. 
  • A feature that is done for your business on your local evening news channel. 

Marketing your grand opening may cost about $1,500 if you resort to more free marketing than promotional marketing. 

Inventory Control System 

Especially if you have a vaster than normal book inventory, you will need a reputable inventory control system. 

This system organizes your books by name, author, ISBN, and publisher. It also keeps track of how many of each title you have in stock to properly serve your customers when you are asked a question about what is in stock. 

You may spend about $7,500 depending on the inventory control system you choose for your bookstore. 

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Buildout Costs

Buildouts are the repairs and preparations that have to be made to get your bookstore up and running. 

You may need to have the roof fixed, have the floor redone, or the walls painted depending on the building’s needs and your personal preferences. 

Doing your buildout could bill you another $1,000 in startup costs. 

Total Startup Costs

Here is a summary of your total startup costs which will be about $25,000.

  • Rent: $2,000
  • First month’s utilities: $500
  • Bookshelves: $5,000
  • Signage: $3,000
  • Business cards: $300
  • Logo: $200
  • Operating expenses for the first month: $4,000
  • Grand opening marketing expenses: $1,500
  • Inventory control system for the bookstore: $7,500
  • Buildout costs: $1,000 

Where to Get Funds to Open a Bookstore

Many resources can help you to get the funds you need to open your bookstore. Here are a few ways to secure funding for your new small business. 


Get your bookstore name out while holding fundraisers to help open your storefront. 

Sell pastries such as scones, cupcakes, cookies, crumpets, and donuts. Don’t forget the coffee and tea! Put the funds towards your startup costs. 

If you join forces with a local cafe, you can partner together to help your business promote your products. 

For example, if a local cafe donates food to your fundraiser, they can give you 10% of the proceeds to put towards your startup costs while they keep the other 90% since the food came from their business. 


How Much Capital Do You Need To Open a Bookstore?

As long as you promote it to family, friends, and potential customers thoroughly, crowdfunding can be a great source of funding for your bookstore’s startup costs. 

Go on pages such as GoFundMe, make a campaign, and get started!

Simply state your business name, how much you will need for your startup costs and the breakdown of how you will be using the startup costs. Don’t forget to make it personable and include your bookstore’s mission, vision, and back story. 

Credit Cards

You can place some of your startup costs on business credit cards. Be sure not to place these costs on a personal credit card so that you can properly keep track of personal and business expenses. 

While you cannot put all your startup costs on a credit card, you can put furnishings, signage, business cards, logo design, and other tangible resources needed to properly open your business. 

Based on the business calculations, you can put about $8,500 of your startup costs on business credit cards depending on your given credit line. This equates to 34% of your startup costs. 

Final Thoughts on Capital Needed to Open a Bookstore

The cost is lower than usual for opening a business. While opening a restaurant can put you $50,000 to $100,000, opening a bookstore is a more mindful and cost-effective choice at only $25,000 in start-up costs. 

Hit the books and teach yourself how you can open a bookstore today and change your life as an entrepreneur!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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While you go about opening your bookstore, we imagine that you may have some more questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about opening bookstores as an entrepreneur. 

Q: If I want to open a bookstore cafe, how much would that cost?

A: Since you are adding a cafe to your bookstore, it would increase your startup costs. You will have to fund the food, cooking equipment, packaging supplies, and other things. 

The lower end of startup costs for a cafe would be $80,000. Combine that with the base $25,000 for opening a bookstore and you could be paying a minimum of $105,000 to open a bookstore cafe. 

Q: How can I get a business credit card?

A: Go to any credit card provider and check out their business credit card options. Compare and contrast interest rates and other special features. Apply for a couple of them once you have your choices to see what happens.

To learn more on how to plan your own bookstore business click here!

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.