More Bookstores Now!

Bricks-and-mortar bookstores are needed now more than ever. In this day and age of “truth decay” they are a visible symbol of truth and those who value it. The areas that need bookstores the most are the so-called “red states,” places where truth is not valued.

Here I am in my second bookstore, Books as Seeds, in October, 1982. The next year it doubled in size to become the largest bookstore in North Alabama. I'm holding my sweet kitten, Kusala.
Here I am in my second bookstore, Books as Seeds, in October, 1982. The next year it doubled in size to become the largest bookstore in North Alabama. I’m holding my sweet kitten, Kusala.

Anyone can open and run a bookstore—anyone from a teenager to an old-ager. I should know—I was 19 when I opened my first bookstore (A Good Book Store in Huntsville, Alabama), and it was just ten years ago that I opened the Daifukuji Gift Shop in Honalo, Hawaii (where books are the main ingredient in a delicious mix of merchandise).

The two most important things are: location (of course) and keeping your overhead low. Keeping your overhead low is important because books are the only product (in the English-speaking world) that comes pre-priced from the publisher with the retail price printed on it. That means that bookstores are restricted as to how much they can charge for a book, unless of course they also carry used books. Used books are often where stores can make up for the loss they entail from carrying new books. New books are carried because of customer demand and the joy of promoting favorite books and authors. You may notice that some new bookstores carry lots of “sidelines” which are non-book items. Sidelines offer those stores a way to break even financially. They don’t have retail prices printed on them and the discounts that the stores receive are much better than those that publishers offer to stores.

I was going to open my first bookstore in Eugene, Oregon. Even though I’d never been there, it seemed progressive enough to support the kind of store that I envisioned. I wrote to their Chamber of Commerce and asked about what bookstores they had (this was in 1970). Some kind person there tore out the bookstore page from their Yellow Pages and mailed it to me. I could tell that they already had an “alternative” bookstore. So I went with my lifetime motto “Bloom where you’re planted” and decided to open the store in Huntsville. It was very appreciated! People referred to it as an oasis, and it was. My brother, Charlie, and I were quite bold about what we carried. The very first section as you walked in the door had The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and God Speaks by Meher Baba. We had underground newspapers and comics and books on how to grow pot. My mother told me a few years ago that she had actually feared for my life. (I had too, but I didn’t let that stop me.)

Break the downward spiral of lies—open a bookstore and carry truthful books. Yes, you can!

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