Start a Christian bookstore

Resources to guide your decision

Have Questions?
  • Is this business right for me?

  • Is there a future for bookstores?

  • What about Amazon?

  • What are the costs involved in opening a Christian bookstore?

Schedule a call for advice, answers to your questions, and to get connected with a Christian retail store owner.

The mission before me every day is to lead my team to equip the Church with quality Christian books, product, and community.

There is no better business to be in than Christian retail; it encompasses the daily challenge of business with an eternal focus on souls.

Sue Smith

Baker Book House 

Where should I begin?


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 
- Philippians 4:6 (NIV)


“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way”
- Proverbs 19:2 (ESV)

Seek Counsel

“Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” 
- Proverbs 15:22 (CSB)

Make a business plan

"Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.”
- Proverbs 24:27 (NLT)

Resources & ArticlesSuccess Stories
Read Answers

Is this business right for me?

The ideal Christian bookstore owner has a heart for ministry and a mind for business. Are you an entrepreneur who has an enthusiasm for books and reading, retail sales, customer service, and business excellence? Can you create not just a store, but cultivate a community of customers and an atmosphere that serves as a haven of Christ’s love? This is your challenge.

As you start planning your business, we can connect you with an experienced Christian retailer to get quality mentorship and the help you need. Having a support network in place to turn to is a major factor of success for new business owners.

What about Amazon?

The online juggernaut is not going away, but independents can defy Amazon! Harvard Business School professor Ryan Raffaelli conducted a fascinating study. What emerged is what he calls the "three Cs" of the local bookstore resurgence:

  • Community: Promoting the idea that shopping locally strengthens the community financially and supports community values.
  • Curation: Knowledgeable bookstore owners choose and promote hidden gems that aren't on the bestseller lists. They can also make highly personalized recommendations, including titles and authors in completely different genres. "That's actually quite difficult for an Amazon logarithm to do," says Raffaelli.
  • Convening: Bookstores host hundreds of events each year, from author readings to game nights to children's birthday parties. "Convening is about finding ways to bring people from the community into the store to connect with others and have a conversation about ideas," says Raffaelli.

Adam Lean, founder of The CFO Project which connects small businesses with experienced chief financial officers, says that any small business can follow the successful model of independent bookstores by being hyper-aware of their target audience and serving that audience in real and authentic ways. "Amazon wants to serve everyone,” says Lean. “Smaller stores can survive if they don't try to serve everyone; they need to serve a very specific target audience." Once you know that target audience, it's all about providing superior service and a superior product in a way that shows that you truly care about the customer.

Want even more resources? Check out this collection of articles here.

What are the costs involved in opening a Christian bookstore?

Your startup costs will be highly variable based on your location, square footage, local labor costs, buildout expenses, marketing investments, and many other factors. Rent and inventory will be your two largest ongoing expenses. If you need help knowing what start-up inventory to stock, we have helpful tools and technology available.

How do I determine how much space and inventory I’ll need? 

Here’s an example: If you were opening a store and projecting $300,000 for your first-year sales and market data says the average sales-per-square-foot in a bookstore is $150 you will need approximately 2000 square feet. If you turn your inventory at least 3 times a year, you would need approximately $65,000 dollars of inventory at wholesale cost at opening.

Here are the formulas for projecting your space and inventory needs: 

Projected Sales Volume ÷ Sales per Square Foot = Selling Space  

Projected Sales Volume ÷ 3 (average new store inventory turns) = inventory at retail x 55% (average new store cost of goods) = Starting Inventory at Wholesale Cost

As with any kind of business, a realistic business plan is needed. Then look at your per-unit profit margin and estimate how much you’ll have to sell every day to break even. Does that number seem realistic? Ask yourself hard questions like that.

Is there a future for bookstores?

Independent bookstores matter—and have been steadily growing and quietly thriving. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of independent bookstores grew by 35 percent. And according to the ABA, 381 new independent bookstores opened in the last 5 years. This trend is promising for the Christian market as well: when big-box stores and chains close—there’s a gap for indies to fill.

You may also be encouraged to hear that there are strong Christian retail stores holding their own in today’s competitive landscape. They’re doing business with a ministry passion—and responding to what their customers want and need. In 2018, we served 420+ independent Christian stores across 46 states. You can download our 2018 Christian Retail in Review report for data and insights into the state of Christian retailing today.

Do physical books & Bibles sell in our digital world?

In the United States, sales of physical books have increased every year since 2013. Meanwhile, e-book sales are falling. Research has repeatedly suggested that consumer attitudes towards print remain positive: physical books are more easily shared and make more meaningful gifts.

In Christian retail stores, books and Bibles continue to be a significant portion of sales—collectively 58% of identifiable sales in 2018 (as reported by U.S. independent Christian retailers and church bookstores to ParableConnect). Click here to view the top 20 bestselling books and the top 20 Bibles through Christian retail in 2018.

Want even more resources? Check out this collection of articles regarding independent bookstore growth here.

Success StoriesResources & Articles

Looking for more?

Here are a few questions for you to consider.

We’d be honored to help!

Make your community 
your mission field.

Imagine how many hearts you could impact for Christ through independent Christian retail ownership. Is this meaningful career path a good fit for you? 

Serving Christian Retailers since 1985