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How To Design For Local Bookstores: 5 Great Options And 3 Lasting Benefits

by | Jun 21, 2023

If you love books and work as a freelancer, you may want to learn how to design for local bookstores. Graphic design, aesthetics, and something as simple as layout can transform readers’ experiences. 

Local bookstores are diamonds in the book world. With large chain bookstores coming to larger prominence in the last several decades, the feel of intimate, small town stores is a cherished experience. 

You can play a large role in the writing world via engaging in design for local bookstores. Additionally, the more experience you gain in this area the better you will understand how to design for and market your own work. 

How To Design For Local Bookstores: Various Options

When it comes to learning how to design for local bookstores, your options are far from limited. Whether you want to create a modern seating area, make the café more accessible, or create new posters, you’ve come to the right place.

#1 – Seating Area

If your bookstore does not include a seating area, you want to prioritize this. A great way to learn how to design for local bookstores is focus on building a customer-first layout. When readers wander in, seeing a friendly seating space will help them feel comfortable. 

#2 – Checkout Lines

When designed with intention, checkout lines can improve sales, customer satisfaction, and increase traffic. You may want to consider placing special sale books near the counter. This way when customers wait for service they have both more books to look at and affordable purchase options. 

#3 – Shelf Design

The layout of shelves should center on who your audience is and what type of books they like most. Knowing how to design for local bookstores specifically is powerful because you have unique access to your readers. You know what they love and why they love it, and can design for their personal taste.

#4 – Web Design

If you are familiar with Squarespace, WordPress, and other website platforms, your design for local bookstores could take a different angle. Without a standardized brand, it can be difficult for local stores to find their niché. If you understand branding and web design, consider offering your services. 

#5 – Posters and Promotional Material

Along the lines of web services, design for local bookstores can often include graphics such as posters for promos. Authors love coming in for signings in their hometown and these events need promotion. 

Benefits From Engaging In Design

Design contributes to marketing success, and local bookstores can greatly benefit from quality marketing. However, when you choose to learn how to design for local bookstores, it’s a two-way street. You can gain invaluable benefits as well. 

#1 – Experience Talking About Your Book

Spending time in a bookstore eventually opens opportunities for you to talk about your own writing. This is a natural environment to practice discussing your book and can prepare you for future pitching. In addition, talking about your book can help you secure feedback. What do people resonate with? When do their eyes seem to glaze over? 

#2 – Gain The Chance To Network With Local Authors

The design team for a bookstore often gets a type of backstage pass to authors. The publishing world relies heavily on who you know. Networking with local authors can be less intimidating and provide you with connections that will prove extremely helpful later on.

#3 – Learn Tips On Platform Building

Seeing the backend of how a local bookstore runs can give you a multifaceted view of publishing. When do most authors have signings? What months do more attendees seem to show up? Over time, you can find the answers to these questions and set yourself up for future writing success.

Tips On Connecting With Local Bookstores

If you want to dive in on learning how to design for local bookstores, making a quality connection is your first step. There are many ways to get an inroad, and each option can be customized to your individual preferences.

Stop In To Visit

Just as cold-calling a potential client can feel uncomfortable, walking into a shop and stating your services can be unnerving. Instead, simply strike up a conversation. Pick a time when foot traffic is slow and ask a few questions about the store. A simple first connection is key to future networking.

Purchase A Book

If this first tip is already making your hands sweat, here’s a less confrontational option: Make a purchase. With online sellers as such a huge resource for readers today, as well as fast shipping and lower prices, local bookstores are struggling. Show your support by purchasing your book locally. 

Offer A Free Service

If your goal is to share your knowledge base on how to design local bookstores’ websites, you may want to start by offering to post a guest blog on an updated About section for their site. This way you can provide the content but you don’t need backend access. 

Maybe you envision a new interior design for the store, but haven’t built up the credibility yet to offer your services. Something as simple as bringing in a bouquet of flowers and offering to set it at the checkout counter can go a long way. 

Share Your Portfolio

Once you make your initial connection, it’s time to share your services and how you can help with design. 

You can do this in two key ways: Fill out a contact form via their website and pitch your services, or bring a hardcopy portfolio in and pitch in person.

When pitching, keep elevator pitch tips in mind. Be precise, concise, and professional. 

Why Your Contribution Matters

If you find yourself asking what your singular contribution can make in the long term success of a small bookstore, you’d be surprised how much difference one person can make. 

With the rise of online retailers and chain bookstores has also come the struggle of local bookstores. When you choose to design for local bookstores you play a meaningful part in a greater story. 

You Encourage Local Writers

Many writers, new or established, enjoy placing their books in their local bookstores. Sometimes these local stores are the very place authors first fell in love with the adventure of writing. When you design for local bookstores, you help shine the spotlight on these often forgotten locations.  

Not only will you inspire the writers in your community, but you act as an important part in drawing attention to these writers. Great design speaks. 

You Bring Fresh Perspective To Seasoned Stores 

Your local bookstore has likely seen books cross its shelves for decades. Maybe it has the musty smell of nostalgia and you’d love to swap it out with an added, in-store café bringing the smell of coffee. Whatever the shape of your bookstore, choosing to share your services helps others see it through a new lens. 

Well-crafted design goes a long way in marketing, and your design can do just that. Whether you choose to volunteer to rearrange a seating area or hope to work on the backend of the website, your design can help transform. 

Using your creativity to learn how to design for local bookstores is a great outlet, as well as a compelling way to pay it forward. Giving back to the writing community that has encouraged you, as well as the readers who are dedicated to your work, will reap massive benefits.

Readers are invaluable. Providing them an aesthetic space at their local bookstore is a small way to show your gratitude!

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