Monday, June 29, 2009

How an Independent Bookstore Survives

On Sunday, the Washington Post published a profile of local, independent bookstore Politics and Prose. The business side of it was interesting:

"P&P, which began in 1989, grossed $6.8 million last year, compared with $6.2 million for the average Barnes & Noble. …

"P&P's book business works like this: For every book they sell, they keep 42 percent of the sale price. Out of that 42 percent, P&P pays for payroll, rent, advertising, credit card commissions, utilities, cleaning, insurance, health-care benefits, a company car and even postage handling to get the books.

"They sell a lot of books. Of the $6.8 million in revenue last year, $3 million was in hardback sales, $2.2 million in paperback and $250,000 in bargain books.

"Christmas season accounts for 20 percent of annual sales; April has the least.

"After paying $3.9 million for books, $1.6 million for payroll and covering the rest of their expenses, the store earned $73,000 last year. The co-owners split $173,000 in salary and bonus."


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.