Setting up a shop to sell only copies of your own books sounds like the ultimate expression of authorial ego, but in reality authors have been doing it online for ages. To open a brick-and-mortar version, as NASA dude Andrew Kessler has for his book, is an interesting marketing gimmick, but from what the article says the shop is only temporary.
I've often considered opening a small independent book store. I've worked as a bookseller, a book store manager and I've run several other businesses, so I've got the experience. I know exactly how I'd set it up and what elements and services could give me a decent shot at making it a success. Book stores are my #1 favorite place to shop, and I loved my time working as a bookseller, so being an owner wouldn't be a hardship. I'd probably get speeding tickets going to work every morning.
I've always stopped at thinking about it, though; I know I'd be extremely selective about the titles I stocked and what I chose to handsell. I'd also be a snob about features; big names and their cookie cutter bestsellers would go to the back of the store while great reads by little-knowns would get all the terrific real estate in the front. No coffee shop, no cold cases of two-day-old danish, and no laptops allowed. Instead I'd have nightly social readings (something like bring your own snacks, I'll brew the tea.) Free bedtime stories for kids. Book picnics in the park. Weekend retreats at the lake for readers and writers.
I would have such a great time with my own book store. Why aren't I doing this again?
Ah, I remember now. Opening and sustaining a new business also requires a pile of money, unwavering committment and devotion of 100% of one's time, and even then there are no guarantees it will survive more than a year after the doors open. That has to be the worst kind of heart break, too; watching a business you love and worked so hard to build go under. Then there is my work, which is not going to simply go poof while I run a business. While I love books, I know my real passion is to write them.
There is an interesting alternative to setting up your own brick-and-mortar book shop, however, as our blogpals Charlene Teglia, Alison Kent, Sasha White and some of their friends have done by joining forces to create Walk on the Wild Side Books. To quote Charlene: "It's not a publisher, it's a publishing hub for our independently published titles." I think this is a great way for writers who work in a specific genre or have crossover readerships to showcase their self-published titles, and by forming a co-op they can also help each other (and to read more about the evolution of the site, go here.)
If you were going to set up a book store (virtual or brick-and-mortar), what would you stock on your shelves?