The perfect bookstore v.3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Eight years ago. EIGHT. 8!!!

I wrote this: The Perfect Bookstore.

Six years ago, I wrote the followup: The Perfect Bookstore

Today, my good friend Nate Hoffelder, digital maven and my occasional partner in crime, pointed me to this:

Paris’s first on-demand-only bookshop.

Point-by-point similarities:

  1. The concept itself
  2. The coffee shop
  3. Its location near a college

Best part?

Meriot said he needs to sell about 15 books daily to break even.

That’s a margin even I didn’t foresee.

Les Presses Universitaires de France storefront

The perfect bookstore v.2

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4

Go read this and all the comments, then come back. Now we’ll recap.

Footprint: A narrow storefront on the county square of a small midwestern city, with three floors. (I didn’t bother with the third floor sketch. Use your imagination.)

Complaint: It’s not a “real” bookstore.

Disclaimers: 1) I’m not an industrial designer so don’t ding me on scale, lack of bathrooms, and walking space, etc etc etc. 2) This is an IDEA. Don’t take me to task as if I’m on the cusp of taking over the world and implementing all these in a grand sweep tonight while you sleep.

Goal: To make the bookstore a destination, not a stop on your to-do list.

Main floor
Main floor

I. Print on Demand

This is the key to blending the Espresso and “real” books:


A. Do you know what it is? It’s a catalog holder, like the ones at auto parts stores, where you stand at the counter and find which part you need for your car. Only these won’t have catalogs. They’ll have cover flats, separated by genre, subdivided by subgenre.

B. You will sit at the counter and flip through them. You will have a little wifi gizmo tied to the store’s computers. You will enter your account number and you will order what you want by pointing the gizmo at the bar code. Your order will go downstairs to the Espresso machines.

C. If you want an electronic version, it can be wifi’d do your device and/or you can have a CD/DVD burned, and/or you can have a download link emailed to you.

D. If you have already ordered what you want from a home computer or smartphone or other device, it will be waiting for you at the customer service counter (“Espresso Order Counter”).

E. The store will have a website that functions like any other ebook third-party retailer.

II. eReading

You may purchase the most current electronic reading devices and be advised by someone who actually knows what they are, how they work, and can teach you. There will be workshops.

III. “Real” books

A. The store will have at least one copy of whatever the buyer knows his customers like. He won’t have to order more because he’ll “Espresso it.” That way, customers can browse actual books.

B. The third floor will be dedicated to art books, children’s books, collector’s editions, with plenty of comfortable chairs. Yes. You will have to climb stairs. Get over it.

IV. Sustenance

In the basement there will be a coffee/tea bar with pastries and chocolate, possibly a small deli. There will be ample room to hang out.

V. Extras

A. You can watch the Espresso machines through the glass window.

B. There will be book club nights.

C. The Espresso books will always be brought upstairs so you don’t have to go downstairs if you don’t want to.

There you go. Blast away.