Bella’s Bookshop

There are no bookstores in Jupiter Florida. Our local Books a Million shuttered a few months ago. You can head south 20 minutes and find a Barnes & Noble, and that’s about it. The question is whether or not this town of 60,000 needs or would support an independent bookstore. There is a very small college in town. A good number of the residents are seasonal. The median age is quite high. People are quite used to jumping on 95 and heading to Palm Beach Gardens for all their shopping needs.

I do think a bookstore could work, but it would need to be a destination. I have a few zany ideas that I would implement if I were setting up a bookstore from scratch. They come from my own wishes as a reader, a shopper, a writer, a former bookstore employee, and a member of the community. Read on to see what I would do with “Bella’s Bookshop” (because all great bookstores need a furry mascot, and my pup would be a constant fixture around the store. And also: Alliteration.

  • Bella’s Bookshop would start with the kids. A vibrant and fun children’s section with bean bags, reading and writing stations, and a commitment to the Battle of the Books and NaNoWriMo Young Writers programs. I would want one employee who stays in touch with local schools and teachers to make sure we have the books they need and assign for class, that parents are aware of our after-school programs, and that kids feel welcome hanging out as long as they like.
  • A focus on literacy. I would have a section of books for people who hate reading. These would be gift ideas for readers trying to turn family and friends who don’t read onto books. Know a guy who likes to gamble and refuses to read? Try Bringing Down the House. Know a relative who swears off books but loves their dog? Get them The Art of Racing in the Rain. There’s a book for everyone. There’s a reader in all of us.
  • A well-paid staff that reads and recommends. I would rather have fewer employees who all get enough hours and pay to support themselves than a ton of part-time people. (And yeah, I know how difficult it is to run a small business and pay employees well, but it helps when the manager (me) can afford to not take a salary).
  • Staff recommendations are the engine that power robust sales. I would have employees write at least one recommendation a month, with shelf talkers placed everywhere that book is shelved.
  • Online recommendations. Related to the above, I would have the employees post the same reviews to several online locations (Amazon, Goodreads, B&N), with a standard intro to each review promoting the qualifications of the reader as an employee of Bella’s Bookshop in Jupiter, Florida. So online shoppers in New Jersey learn that our recommendations rock. And to visit us next time they pass through town. (This attitude of giving freely even if it seems to run counter to our bottom line would permeate the bookshop).
  • I would want a stellar cafe with the best fresh-ground organic coffee in town (and a drive-through window, where you can get a newspaper, magazine, or order a book while your coffee is being made). We would feature my homemade cheesecake and choc-chip cookies, and my mother’s coconut and 7-layer choc-cake recipes. The cafe would have a handful of tables and an outdoor patio for the awesome and busy Jupiter winter season. The cafe would serve a selection of doggy treats and have water fountains and shade outside for visiting pups. But the real reason for the cafe would be because of my favorite spot in the entire store. Our…
  • …Writing Room. Separate from the cafe, this would be like a Starbucks lounge for people who want to sit and use our WiFi or get work done in a quiet space. There would be a selection of writing reference books for people to paw through (thesaurus, guide to agents, grammar guides, etc.), writing prompts and encouragement on our community whiteboard, a running collective word-count everyone can add to, a bulletin board to announce the newly published, and a case for displaying published works that were partly written right there in the room (and for any award announcements from our writers, young or old).
  • Weekly writing workshops in the Writing Room. My favorite. We would have some for all ages and all skill levels. Our staff would teach some, but we would also invite in local writers and teachers.
  • The writing room would also have a couple of computers. We would have a Mac for writers who don’t own one to be able to self-publish to the iBookstore. We would also sell an affordable in-house guide to writing your best work possible, as well as a guide to publishing, however you choose to go about it.
  • Reading groups. We would reach out to our regular readers and help them form regular groups, which could take over our writing room for monthly gatherings. I would want to have a few, so the SFF crowd could have a group, the general fiction crowd, the non-fiction crowd, whomever.
  • Two author events a week, Wednesday and weekends. Local authors, big names, groups of writers, our in-house success stories.
  • A bay of shelves for self-published works. This would include classics that readers don’t realize were originally self-published. It would also feature our Mavens program. Mavens are our adventurous readers who discover great unknown works. When they recommend a self-published work that we love and feature in the store, they get a $15 gift certificate, and their Maven Bio and personal recommendation is featured as a shelf talker below the book. So you get to know that Donna Maybell discovered this work and what she loves about it. The Maven of the Month is the community reader who brought the best works to our attention. And employees would be expected to give these recommendations a try along with their other reads.
  • We would sell e-readers that provide a financial kick-back for books purchased on those devices. We would also work with authors and publishers to bundle e-books with print books in an affordable manner (giving the e-book away where possible).
  • We would stock Amazon published books. Why? Because it’s Amazon’s distribution and online retail divisions that hurt physical stores, not their publishing wing. The latter is a miniscule portion of Amazon’s profits. Refusing to stock these books hurts the reader and author without impacting Amazon one bit. The best way to hurt Amazon? Sell their books and pocket that 40% of the list price! I would view Amazon Publishing as a partner, just as I would view any publisher.
  • Education about our bookstore and programs. I would want readers and writers to understand our purpose with the bookstore and to know where their money is going. They would understand what our employees make as a salary and how that compares to the industry average. We would post our profits every year, so shoppers feel like they are a part of our success. They would know what our managers make. How much we donate to charity and which charities we support. And fun facts, like how many words have been written in our Writing Room, how many books patrons have published, how many books young readers have read, how many books our book clubs have discussed, and how many writers have shown up for events. All things to celebrate.
  • We would shelve the finest books in all genres, from the classic must-reads to the new releases. We would also feature a shelf of books that defy explanation. Quirky books that are in-between.
  • NO RETURNS! We would not return unsold books to publishers. I would ask for a 50% – 55% discount from publishers with a guarantee of no return. When books are at the end of their shelf life, they would be moved to the “Rescue” section. Here, a brief sign would explain our commitment to publishers and to the environment and that we do not return books. Please purchase these great reads at a 35% discount. If they don’t sell in a certain period of time, these books would move to our used book section and our remaindering section.
  • Used and remaindered books. There are amazing discounters out there that sell hardbacks for cheap. I would rather these books find readers than be recycled into pulp. So our used and bargain section would be a huge component of the bookstore.
  • We would take advantage of bulk ordering and feature promotional packages. Many new releases offer custom cardboard stands if you order 12 or more copies. We would do this and put a customer’s name on the back of any stand or poster they call dibs on. These are fun for displaying a young reader’s favorite books or putting posters on bedroom walls of something besides musicians and sports stars. (We often had customers asking for these items at our bookstore).
  • We would definitely have an Espresso Book Machine. Yes, I know how much they cost. I would use the machine not only to support our catalog, but to provide a printing service for community businesses, writers, publishers, and teachers. Also for education on print-on-demand and to get kids excited about the publishing industry. Also: gadgets.
  • Every other year, we would have a Bella Bookshop cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. Gorge on buffets, read all day, write all night, and hang out with book lovers. Group discounts would make this a bargain, and of course, we wouldn’t have the ship to ourselves. But if we got a few hundred people to sign up, we would make up a nice chunk of the cruise.
  • I would apply for grants based on our education and literacy efforts and appeal to community members and elected officials to support our bookstore as they would a library or learning institution. Our commitment to transparency would assist these efforts. If we are profitable enough, we wouldn’t ask for anything. If we become more profitable, we would expand, raise salaries, lower prices, or give more to excellent charities. Whatever we decided, our shoppers and our community would know. Heck, we might take our profits and install a dog run/dog park so Bella can wear out your pup while you shop!

If this sounds like an unreasonable list, you only have to visit amazing shops like The Tattered Cover in Denver or Powell’s in Portland to see all that a bookstore can be. Our challenge will be to scale those shops down in square footage and make the plan work for 60,000 residents rather than 600,000. Is that possible? I think so. In fact, I think a number of people in Palm Beach Gardens would drive up to visit our store. As well as people in Stuart and Hobe Sound driving down.

We wouldn’t sit still, either. One of our side projects would be to render our store in 3D in anticipation of Oculus Rift and other Virtual Reality devices. The idea would be to allow people anywhere in the world to visit our store. And when we do author events, the entire world would be able to attend. When we do writing workshops, those would be broadcast everywhere and saved on our YouTube channel. Our reading groups would have online members and discussions as well.

For those with VR headsets, you could browse our store as it exists and is shelved any week. This would cut down on all the clutter online and let you see our expertly curated selection. If you want a book, rather than ship it to you, we’ll direct you to Amazon with our affiliate code. I would beat up Amazon for an even higher referral percentage in exchange for directing our shoppers their way and for carrying their books. This would save us the work of packing up books, save our shoppers money, and save the environment with less double-shipping of merchandise.

Virtual Reality shoppers would also be able to see a customized version of our store based on their past purchases. I would work with Amazon to help build this engine and license it to other bookshops. VR would combine the thrill of book discovery that shops provide with the ease of purchase and delivery (and pajamas) that online shopping lends. We would even get to the point where you could summon a bookshop employee to enter your VR world to give you recommendations (like on the Kindle Fire) or help you find a title or a gift idea.

That’s my vision for a bookshop that makes sense now and one that could grow into tomorrow and be global both with VR and broadcast events and workshops. Would you put on pants in order to come shop with us?

93 responses to “Bella’s Bookshop”

  1. I love the idea, Hugh. Make it so… I’ve been a patron of all of the Tattered Cover locations around Denver for years. They have such great atmospheres.

  2. I like the VR idea! Especially now that Facebook has bought a VR company.

    (I am a teacher who has selfpublished a chapter book series. So let me know when you start this!)

    1. Yeah, the VR potential for online shopping is ENORMOUS. Amazon needs to get on this, or someone else is going to disrupt their business.

  3. I suddenly want to move to Jupiter.

  4. This area is DYING for something like this, Hugh. Not only would it serve the needs of readers who still love the browsing experience, it would fill a need in the community in general. I would gladly patronize this store.

  5. This is an awesome idea and you should do this! I am an avid reader and so was my dad and my sister is too. I love every component you have suggested. It is a great idea. I have just started “Sand” and am hoping to have time to delve deeper soon. I read WOOL in like 5 days, Molly about the same, loved them both. Peace to you and all!

  6. But you are correct a store needs to be a destination and a community.

  7. Yes! Please make this!
    I fortunately live in Kentuckiana (Louisville, KY and Southern IN) We have four independent bookstores, a BAM, B&N, Half-Priced books, you name it, we got it. I am not without, however those ‘Zany’ ideas of yours would be the icing on my already large cake. There are a lot of writers out here and the library has programs to grow new ones. But a cozy, comfortable atmosphere would be an advantage over the other stores. Our independents need to use every inch of space for books and although they have author signings, they don’t have the space for supporting writers or their coffee habits.
    If your bookstore was near me, I might have to put my pants on, forgo the others, and shop with you.

  8. kathy czarnecki Avatar
    kathy czarnecki

    Absolutely. Need to figure out how to mail order the coconut cake!

  9. Jacqueline Parrish Avatar
    Jacqueline Parrish

    This is a wonderful concept and I hope you decide to bring it to life! Think of all the northern snowbirds who call Florida home and grew up with independent bookstores. They would love to bring their grandkids to your shop! Please do this! It would be a destination for me and my family!

  10. Looking over your list…some of these ideas would be enthusiastically supported by a well-managed/funded public library. Perhaps a partnership? That could be pretty awesome.

  11. Oooh, a writing room! I love that idea.

  12. I agree with Will. This makes me want to move to Jupiter. I love everything about it.

  13. Not only would I make a point to visit the store, but I would apply for a job there.

  14. Bella and I love, love, love this idea. Brilliant.

    1. How about a therapy office upstairs for all the crazy writers?

  15. Sounds amazing! I’d use the writing room a lot (pets get pestery at home and local cafés are too noisy!) We need a store like this in worcester, but it would be competing with a large waterstones.

  16. I’m Googling directions to Jupiter!

  17. These are some pretty awesome ideas. Waterdown, Ontario has a cute little used and unique bookstore called Pickwick Books. I’ve always loved it for its eclectic nature. The store always feels as though it might be made of books instead of wood and drywall.

    There’s also this gigantic safe at the back filled with war-related books. The huge door is perpetually open, and the evidence of this is in the books piled along the top of it.

    It’s really a charming, almost urban-fantasy like place. I’ve more than a few stories knocking around in my imagination around that bookstore.

    I’ve been thinking of ways a small bookstore could monetize beyond just books and coffee. One idea I had was creating a writer-centric ecommerce store that gives a discount to anyone who comes *into* the brick and mortar store to make a purchase.

    The store could (and should) involve art and products from local providers (or at least from smaller grassroots companies).

    People rarely realize how much local artistic talent exists behind the doors of unassuming suburbia. It would be great to give them a chance to showcase their work, and perhaps sell a few pieces themselves.

    I like the idea of paintings, prints, pens, notebooks, and one-of-a-kind stationary pieces. The more ‘tangible’ side of writing.

    I also think it’d be really neat to offer classes on binding hardcover books in the traditional way. The cost to learn this might be as simple as purchasing a book from the Print-On-Demand service, plus a small nominal fee. That way the book they bind is one they actually *want*.

    So many ways to have fun with the idea of a bookstore and turn it into something so much more.

  18. We don’t need therapy, much, just a pen. And coffee, and cake. Bring us cake!

  19. Sally McMillan Avatar

    You had me until the very last sentence.

    It’s a dream of mine to open a small bookstore with a little cafe serving tasty drinks and edibles. I would also feature local artisans as well as have Friday-night live acoustic music and promote local events. Big comfy chairs to curl up and read when the weather is not so nice. A small outdoor seating area for when the weather is sunny and warm. Dogs are always welcome! I want it to be an integral part of the larger community where there is mutual support for all.

  20. Mine would have a really big erotica section, but it would be in a separate room with brown paper bag wallpaper and rubber sheets on the reading chairs.


  21. As a retail owner for over 20 years I can say that your plans sound fabulous. However the beginning of your article sounded the warning call of all businesses and this is location, location, location. Jupiter may not be the place for this to prosper as it sounds like it doesn’t have the proper customer base. The stores mentioned in your article as examples were located in major cities that had demographics which could sustain them. Make sure whichever location you choose has the customer base that will keep your dream alive.

  22. I love the ideas for your bookshop. With the right publicity, I’d think the bookshop could become a destination for tourism. I’d certainly want to visit!

  23. Cathy Helowicz Avatar

    I’m in Hugh! And I bet that James Patterson would write a nice little check to help get it started. What do you say? There’s a small bookstore on Clematis and Murder on the Beach in Delray, but like you said nothing up here. I would love a cozy little bookstore and I think the writer’s room with Author visits is a great idea! Coffee, music, dogs, a place to meet up with friends. Let’s keep bookstores alive.

  24. Maybe you could get Donna Gephart to join you in the endeavor, she’s in Jupiter too. You’d have a top notch kids section for sure.

  25. Hugh, would you offer a section for used books as well? BrightLight Books in Fern Park offers both new and used books, and accepts trade-ins for store credit that can be used for up to 50% of the purchase of another book. Then twice a year they have a huge sale from their used inventory that becomes a real community event. We always see more people per square foot in there than in the BAM across the street :)

    Plus with all the used books in the kids’ section my 8 year old gets much more for her pocket money at BrightLights. New or preowned, she could care less, most children are more used to library books anyway.

    1. I would! And I updated the post to reflect that.

  26. Want. Now.
    Next nonstop to Jupiter leaves when?

  27. I visit WPB all the time and would go to Jupiter. Plus, you should hire my sister, a bookstore manager who knows every book ever and is also a writer who hasn’t pursued publishing (self or otherwise). Bonus: she’s all mysterious, and sarcastic.

  28. What a wonderful dream! For reasons both financial and logistical, I do most of my book buying with my Kindle–how, in fact, I stumbled upon WOOL et al., thank you Amazon. Our nearest B&N is about 45 min away now; we do have a used/mystery book store with an indifferent owner and no coffee or chairs; and another sweet used book/rare book store just opened up recently. Location isn’t the best and the bookshelves take up so much space, there is no room for sitting or writing or thinking. Or coffee. I worked in a great little Indy bookstore for a while, one that was well-liked and well-supported by the local community. It was purchased by a dear but unrealistic person who didn’t quite get that recommending only the books you personally like wasn’t necessarily good business, that people will continue to buy books for their kids even in a depressed economy, and all and all. We tried, us part-timers, to open the boss’s eyes, especially about children’s books, but the pigheadedness and the lack of sales forced us all to leave eventually. Bottom line, Bella’s Bookstore sounds spot on. If you’re ever able to pull this together, you will be successful because there are still
    a lot of readers and would-be writers and dreamers around, people who want to encourage the next generation of readers in whatever format it takes.

  29. I would put on pants AND make the 2.5 hour drive from Orlando to hang out there. Every chance I got.

  30. This bookstore sounds like my dream location. I’m such a book geek that I’d probably never leave and you’d have to kick me out at closing time! I think I’d even contemplate a move to FL just so I could be a regular customer!

    Love this idea so much. Keep ’em coming!

    1. The owner of Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France let people sleep in the aisles at night. He called them his “Tumbleweeds.” Often, he would hand the register over to someone, say “I’ll be right back, mind the store,” and then disappear for MONTHS at a time. Patrons would be left running the store. It was bananas, and it was awesome.

  31. *standing ovation*

    THIS! This is what all cities and towns NEED.

  32. Love it, especially the new/used combo and online presence.

    If you’re thinking seriously about starting this, consider raising money from fans. Small investments in the $100 to $10,000 range from a few hundred fans and you’ll have some serious money to start with. You’ll have to see what the rules and regulations are on this. The big downside is that if you lose money, you’re pissing off not only your investors, but also your fans. On the plus side, you’ll have an understanding and enthusiastic investor base. If you do go this route, I’m good for a small investment. And I promise I won’t be pissed if things don’t work out.

    1. Ya, and start with this group that replied to you ~

    2. One way to do this would be to sell store credit. So your $100 or $1,000 gives you exactly that much in store merchandise. It would allow initial inventory and remodeling and be, in effect, an interest-free loan.

      The other option would be to sell shares of ownership and disperse earnings. But that would be a lot to manage. And I have the resources to fund this, though I would be risking those resources, something I’m not emotionally equipped for.

      1. Jonathan Jacobsen Avatar
        Jonathan Jacobsen

        Co-ops work well in the grocery industry; we have tons of them in Massachusetts and it creates a community feel where everyone wants to support the efforts of the store. The ancillary benefit is it also spreads out the responsibility to a board and the financial commitment to hundreds or even thousands.

      2. Yes, definitely don’t fund it all on your own, even if you can. All eggs in one basket and all that. No investment is worth losing sleep over.

  33. I used to shop Powell’s in Portland, OR when I was going to college there. While I liked the staff recommendations, I would add that I would like to see staff bios featured in-store and online so you can reverse-engineer it. For example, seeing a recommendation on a book that is not normally in the genres I read would have an even greater effect if i knew that the staff person generally does like the same styles and themes that I do, but maybe they stepped outside their comfort zone and discovered something new that they highly recommend. That might influence me to try something new.

  34. Yes, I would shop there, except I live in Denver and so am one of the lucky ones that get to patronize Tattered Cover.

    I was in a Barnes & Noble about two weeks ago and I did some browsing. I noticed they have completely done away with their comfy chairs, except for some attached to the cafe. There’s no longer any reason to go to B & N (hasn’t been for a while, but now it’s even worse.) I suppose some people just sat in chairs, but I sat in chairs and from time to time made significant purchases. A retail book store that isn’t comfortable to visit and browse. Whose idea was that?

  35. I love this idea, and I’m in. Let me know when you are taking investors. And I’ll curate the donut/coffee table and make it available via VR too! With smell-a-vision it will be a gold mine!

  36. Never mind putting on my pants to shop there I want to move to Jupiter and work there! I’ve got bookselling experience and do some coffee shop work too (and I like dogs, kids and writers). The only problem I can see is that I live in Yorkshire….

    In other news – you should read The Collected Works of A J Kikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Judging by how much everyone who reads this book loves it there is a market for this kind of bookstore!

  37. David Gatewood Avatar

    In-house editor consultation night every Thursday!

  38. There is a great BBC series, think it’s on netflix, entitled Black Books about a book store proprietor named Bernard Black who is the antithesis of the “customer service” oriented owner. It’s charming and funny. I think it would be cool to have some people at a book store who know their genres, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, true crime. People sense the passion that people in a store possess for their stuff. So often they get people who look the part and reject the cast of characters who live for their graphic novel or romance or any book passion. There is a personal element to what people read and they enjoy learning about new titles and engaging in conversation with people who understand what they read. It’s providing a place for the reading community to hang out and letting them know about new stuff. As you have expressed the staff is critical. If they’re good success will follow. (Again no head shots needed just a commitment to stories.)

  39. FABULOUS! BUT, don’t forget Bella’s Babysitting, complete with Bella’s bouncing balls and adults can play too. I’d stay all day, that could mean trouble for my credit card tho ~ ; P

    oh and then you could start a franchise…the new book world peeling away from the ashes of old thoughts…

  40. So why don’t you?

  41. You’ve created an ideal space to love books and words! It makes me want to apply and move down!! With every description, your store (in my mind) kept filling up with happy families, people, writers (as much as writers can be happy), visitors, and of course happy Bella came to life. I hope the dream actually comes true!

  42. Everyday when I am on Indiantown I think “where will Hugh’s shop be?”

    You need to own the property. Rent is a killer. Many a fine store in the greater Boston area was killed off by brutal rent increases. The only ones that could afford it were the big box stores.

  43. Sounds yummy enough a destination for me to drive there from Brevard County. “Upstairs” could be called “The Amber Room”! :-)
    Please also consider a large needle craft book section. We don’t have an Indy book store close by but the local yarn shop is full of women working away on their projects, buying knitting books & magazines before they leave.

  44. Fantastic! I did a post on my blog not long ago about what a bookstore needs, and you have all of my ideas, plus more! Except you forgot the smell of chocolate in the romance novel section. Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, has a lot of good ideas, and their employees write reviews of books they loved, which goes in their newsletter. Without them, I’d consider moving to Jupiter. But I’ll donate to get yours going. Do it. Make the world a better place.

  45. These are some interesting and forward looking ideas. Very exciting stuff!

    I have mulled over some additional suggestion(s): Hope some or all of this is useful!

    • Perhaps a deal could be negotiated with RV companies to donate vehicles for mobile versions of Bella’s Bookstores. If not RV companies, all the retirees in scenic Floirida can donate their old RV for a nice tax break/refund, and put those saving toward an upgraded RV. BB could be set up as an educational non-profit or something like that?) This way Bella’s Bookstore can come to readers instead of the other way around. It could be similar to an ice cream truck that drives through neighborhoods. In fact, maybe it can be an ice cream/smoothie truck as well. (crazy, just riffing ideas here) People would be able to put in a request for the BBRV to stop by via an app or website.

    • Maybe folks can schedule a BBRV meetup that comes to them based on their reading preferences. Maybe it’s a retired vampire story hangout, or themed hang outs where BBRV is pre-stocked with books and chairs and barbecues or whatever to create a “special experience” I’m sure there are lots of lonely seniors living down there who are dying (sorry) for an excuse to chat and chill with the nice folks from Bella’s Bookstore, if only to have an opportunity to chat up their new love interest down the block, or just gossip/discuss the latest topics.

    • Maybe there’s a mobile app people can tap to see where the nearest Bella’s Bookstore RV is located,(BBRV?) and request that the bookmobile stop by? In order to make the stop worthwhile for the BBRV, people need to round up at least 4 neighbors or something like that. It could encourage the development of book groups in communities where solitaire prevails.Lots of lonely silver hairs looking for an excuse to connect, or maybe not? Just ideas.

    • Maybe the BBRV can do birthday parties for children, adults seniors alike? Maybe the BBRV does surprise birthday party in the driveway’s or as a curbside reprieve from the party going on inside? Maybe BBRV does book love drive-by’s where the BBRV pulls up to someone walking along a promenade and KAPOW! intstant birthday party surprise where they’re handed their favorite book giftwrapped through the side window or something? Books always make great gifts, and gift certificates can be emailed to their mobile device and made available for the receiver to pick from a BBRV nearby.

    • Maybe BBRV can offer writing reading groups in various neighborhoods where seniors tend to coalesce? Or writing /reading groups for their visiting grandchildren since grandpa is to old to drive anymore? Maybe the BBRV could be an incentive for the grandkids to stay for a while?

    • Maybe the BBRV can be a bus to take people and their children back to Bella’s Bookstore and Learning Center (TM) instead taking them to some boring shitty school that looks like a damn prison?

    • There could be an app option for buyers who are not in a rush, and would like to request a book delivery to their home in the coming days or weeks. if they order a certain number of books, and/ or enough people in their neighborhood get together to make a group purchase, delivery is free ( or some other perks, like an intro to writing class online or something?)

    • BBRV app can have a live map feed, showing whens and wheres to which it will be passing through. It can also send push notifications to users if its within a certain distance to their proximity, and inform people of events, barbecues. boat trips, etc etc etc.

    Maybe I’ll stop here and give anyone reading a break : )

    With regard to Bella’s Bookstore focusing on children, I think that’s a great idea. If you wanted to push the envelope, you could offer a completely unique learning environment at Bella’s Bookshop. To hell with school. That’s an outdated production line model that encourages conformity. Children select the subjects that they want to learn, at their own pace, and whenever they want. (Ideally, that would would be done with the care and support of a patient and supportive parent/ relative or grandparent present).

    All kinds of cool stuff can be available for children to learn. They can learn about successful negotiating skills in order to develop strategies to ensure win-win outcomes, (might come in handy when negotiating future digital rights!) how to start a small business, economics, the “free” market, capitalism, ethics, philosophy, logic, or none of the above. They can learn programming, fiber arts, aerodynamics, anatomy, geology, cooking, farming, supply and demand, the much ignored Austrian School of Economics, or how origami and mathematics intersect. Or they can play candy crush for a week straight until their decide that they’re ready to move on.

    Given the number of retirees in the gator region, many are probably grandparents. I’d bet that demographic could be leveraged. Most grandparents would love an excuse to have their grandchildren stay with them so they can attend Bella’s Bookstore!

    Are you a retiree looking for worthwhile cause to donate to after you’re gone, Bella’s Bookstore offers planned giving through a trust or will.

    If this gets off the ground, I would say that in less than 20 years, Jupiter could be known as a renaissance center for supporting the hearts and minds of children who will go on to become some of the most intelligent, the most creative, and best problem solvers in the world.

    Now that’s what I would call a destination.


  46. That sounds like a bookstore I’d want to visit.

    I can’t believe there are no independent bookstores in a town that size. Our town has a population of 6000, and we have three independent bookstores. I guess we’re lucky!

  47. You would also be serving towns along the east side of Lake Okeechobee; from Okeechobee, itself, at the northern tip, down to Indiantown, Belle Glade, around to Pahokee at the southeast corner, and countless little communities in between.
    There isn’t a single bookstore that exists among them–never has been–given that the area has long been incapable of sustaining much beyond Publix and/or Winn Dixie, Walmart, CVS and/or Walgreens. The people who live there are accustomed, and willing, to driving over to the coast for choices in shopping/dining/entertainment–up or down, from Vero to Palm Beach. They’d come to Bella’s, too.
    (Well, the ones who can read anyway! I did grow up down there , so I’d be kinda remiss if I didn’t concede the sustainability of a bookstore around there might be hampered by more than just economics.)
    All in all, though, these are great ideas for your hypothetical bookstore!

  48. This sounds like a dream come true. Wonderful idea. I hope you do it :-)

  49. dogs include Which means Neat i devotion dogs in order much.

    Dogs make myself look I really would like for you to throw care Of all
    more dogs. Thank you dogs. DOGS tend to be great!

  50. […] Read more: Bella’s Bookshop […]

  51. I would definitely dig a bookstore like that! Do it, Hugh! There are no bookstores in my area either, other than a Barnes and Noble. It makes me sad.

    Live the dream!

  52. Darts room with a dart board made out of the face of a big 5 legacy publisher CEO, on a rotating basis?

  53. […] c’est quid de ce monopole et de son effet sur les librairies ? Is Amazon saving bookstores ? Bella’s bookshop […]

  54. I just got around to reading this massively exciting list of possibilities. Tremendous. Let us know what we can do to help. Count me in as a visiting writer with experience self-publishing fanfic!

    The thing you’ll have to do is clone yourself…because it would be hard to mastermind this bold new venture and keep writing too.

    Carry on with your incredible ideas, Hugh.

  55. Hugh, I realize I’m in the extreme minority here, but my suggestion is to not do any of those things. Instead focus on filling your store with good books, the more books the better, the better books the better.

    Be a bookstore.

    I’ve owned a store for 30 years now, and we’re doing better now than ever before. I concentrate on content. People walk in the door and respond to content.

    Simple, but effective.

    Every complication you introduce only distracts from the main job and adds to eventual burnout. I’m convinced that as many bookstore go out of business from burnout as from lack of sales.

    There are hundreds of years of good books, and millions of books to pick from. Pick your favorites, cult books, classics, complete series, all genres, everything you can squeeze into your store. Have a used book section, and a new book section, and keep bringing them in and squeezing every inch to fit them in.

    Be a bookstore.

  56. Years ago, Books Inc. took over Printers Inc. in Mountain View, CA. Right away the Books Inc. manager wanted to close the upstairs cafe. I asked him why. He looked down his nose at me and said, “Because we’re book people, not cafe people!” Chasing customers out of your store is a horrible way to run a business, and that cafe was a social hub that attracted business. The cafe was closed for a long time, and finally reopened under new management. That guy reminds me of a publisher I ran into. I mentioned I was thinking of self-publishing. Her face morphed into a lizard head and she spat out, “Vanity publishing.” I’d have said dinosaur head, except dinosaurs turned into petroleum, which, unlike her, is useful. Publishers and bookstores need to adapt or die.

    In my (still working on it) novel, I have a comic book store that is also a coffee shop. Maybe that combo might not work in real life, but I have to think ahead. I don’t want kids to ask daddy, “Daddy, whut’s uh comic book store?”

    1. Dave,

      I think you can choose to carry only books without being a snob about it… :)

      I know it works for me — after 30 years, we’re doing better than ever. I devote all my attention, time, space, and money to books.

      It is also something I enjoy doing every day without added burdens of making coffee or whatever…

      I go home at night and my job is done. I come to work and deal with books and nothing but books, and I still love my job.

      1. Duncan, you make me want to visit your bookstore and buy some books. If I knew where the store was (and if it was in driving distance). A bookstore doing well nowadays is a thing of beauty. Great that you love your job, not everyone gets that kind of love.

        The reason my novel has a combo comic book and coffee shop is that I (and my superheroine Holly) like comic books and coffee. In the real word, I wonder if that kind of store would work, considering that kids go to comic book shops, and spilled coffee stains stuff. Like paper. Just cuz I like them doesn’t mean they will mix well. I think the comic book guy where I buy my comics said something along those lines.

        P.S. That Books Inc guy? Yeah, snob was the word I was looking for. Fortunately, no one else there ever gave my that kind of attitude, and I do not think I have seen his face since. But the store has gotten smaller. Sigh. There is a large used bookstore nearby it that I think is doing well. I hope so.

    2. If libraries had coffee shops i would go at least twice a week. If you have only one product, people come only for that product, so i agree a coffee shop is a good addition to a store.

  57. I work at Powell’s, and shared this post with everyone that would listen, because lets face it there is always room to improve.. I wanted to talk about one of the things that we’ve been doing right.. Promoting Children’s Literacy see our events calendar for May!!! We are hosting 14 events just for kids and the kid in every adult.

    Check out this Girls Work, which we are selling in store:

    and, sooo cute.

    I hope you and your fans find yourselves as excited about Rena Marthaler work as we are.

  58. Did you delete my reply?

    1. You did. Hmm, i did not say anything rude, just an diea about a small bookstore selling amazons top sellers, about letting the public decide what deserves to be on the shelves. i guess only voices praising you are allowed on here. Good Bye Hugh, I will not interuprt the little bubble you have moved into again.

  59. As I’ve mentioned, I think just being a bookstore without all the extra’s is still OK.

    I do know that doing all the extra things means that you’ll probably be more of a manager than a bookseller. You’ll spend most if not all of your time on all the the different activities and employees.

    I mean, if that’s what you want. Being a manager.

    I still like being the front person, talking about books, buying books, selling books. Doing that one job.

    I think just concentrating on carrying books is still a job that one man or woman can do and make a nice living, without all the added expenses and burdens.

    Keep it simple. Keep it books.

    If you know your books, you’ll do fine. And you’ll enjoy it more.

    1. It does require that you carry as many books as possible, and that you do a good job of it. But that can be fun.

      1. Sorry. One last thing. Here’s something that seems to get lost in all the doom and gloom about bookstores.

        Good books sell. Very well. So my job is to carry good books. I think there is a very bright future in bookselling. I just have to do a good job, which means keeping on top of my ordering, my displays, exploring books, experimenting, knowing books, just overall being a book person.

        I feel like the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of all the other things, and that too many people are getting distracted from the main goal.

        Yes, I suppose I’m protective of myself. If I spend all my time and energy on books, I keep up my enthusiasm. After 30 years, that’s no small thing.

        1. I think it’s a terrific thing that bookstores can span the range of profitably concentrating on books, like yours, Duncan, all the way to incorporating cafes and community-oriented activities like Hugh’s. It’s all good.

          I’d love to visit both stores! Are you going to let us sleep there, Hugh? Should we be “Woolies?”

          I also appreciate the shout-out to Pickwick Books–I’d love to hear about more, fabulous bookstores closer to home (Montreal/Ottawa).

          1. If you pass by Alexandria, Ontario, R&L’s Book Nook supports local authors (including moi) AND they own not one, but two skeletons. FTW.

  60. Hugh, I must say that when you dream like this, it’s inspiring. THESE articles are what keep me coming back to you and your writing.

  61. Hugh, I would happily be one of your store’s first customers, and promise to bring friends. I live in West Palm Beach and grew up in Palm Beach Gardens. I think your proposed store will have a broader geographical customer base than you suggest in your article. There are only a few independent bookstores in South Florida and many visitors to this area. All of the visitors look for something different, new, and exciting, which is what your proposed store offers. Perhaps you will make Jupiter known for its bookstore and writers as much as it is for its beaches and turtles.

  62. You had me in at the mention of desserts. Lots of earl grey tea and wireless headphones for music in the writing room too please. Definitely moving there.

  63. I love all these ideas. You are passionate about reading and writing and so am I. This all has my head spinning. Hope I don’t get sued if I do much the same with a store out West.

  64. Jeff Kinney, author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, is opening his own bookstore just around the corner from my house. (Well, ‘around the corner’ in country terms…) I don’t know the format yet how he’s going to do it, but it’s part of his project to replace a historic and much beloved building in the center of Plainville, MA, that had fallen too far into disrepair to save. It looks like the opening date will be this summer. Then we’ll all know what he’s going to do with it.

    I love your ideas. You can add my name to the list of authors to meet when you open. :)

    If I opened a bookstore/café, I would have a vertical component to it with small, elevated nooks where people could sit and watch the life of the store from above.

  65. Well, I live in Jupiter, too! I guess we’re sorta neighbors! And, this IS an awesome place, for many reasons. I love the small town feel (though it was a lot smaller in the 80’s, sigh) and it’s a great place for families and to raise kids. The beach isn’t too shabby, either. Now, I actually came here tonight to see Hugh’s site because I have become a new fan of his writing. Love, love, love the Wool series. Wow. Reading Sand now. What an imagination. I sort of said all this when I went to his book appearance at our local library the other night! That was fun! When Hugh mentioned the silo pics were up, of course I had to come and see for myself! Now I’m learning about his bookstore idea and I love it! Gosh, I was so sad when our BAM shut down. You know something? Maybe it’s meant to be, Hugh? I think the stars are lining up for you to do this. I would love to support your bookstore. I miss BAM, but something unique like this would blow away the competition. Really is an ingenious plan. If Hugh wanted good people who loves books and lives right here in our sweet little town, he could count me in! I’d sure rather see Bella’s Bookshop than another Chase or Bank of America.

  66. Have you considered for this?

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  68. Needs beer. For example, Portsmouth Book & Bar.
    Among other qualities, it gives something for the non-reading significant other to do.

  69. Sounds like the bookstore of my dreams, Hugh but I’d rather see you put your energy into creating a small press or ePublishing company that would curate and publish other authors and get them placed in bookstores. Start with sci-fi and thriller books. I bet you could do a “Hugh Howey Presents” banner and sell a shitload of books and launch a lot of careers.

  70. Hugh,

    Awesome idea of opening up your bookshop. Do you have any idea of the startup costs, ie leasing space. Thanks.


  71. […] Late last year, there were a handful of great reports on the health of independent bookstores. Check out this one at the Washington Post and another from NPR. I’ve been following the rise of indie shops for a few years now, back to when I worked in one. And I’m seriously considering opening a bookstore of my own (I blogged about what it would look like here). […]

  72. […] while back, I wrote a piece on the kind of bookstore I would open if I had my druthers. While that process creeps ever forward, I keep brainstorming about things I […]

  73. I live in Jupiter and was very sad when Books A Million closed. My family and I have lived here for just over 13 years. I love your idea. Folks need something like that to shake things up. Just remember to include large print options for the snowbirds. I love to read in my spare time eventhough I read regulatory documents all day at work. Kids are in high school and college so I’m basically broke all the time. So I’m thinking I need a second job….let me know when you’re hiring. Doesn’t sound like work, sounds like fun…can’t wait for the grand opening.

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