Business Ideas

Mobile Bookshops: A Viable Business Venture

Mobile-Bookshops

By Udeme Ekwere

A clergy had just moved into his new duplex in Lagos with two libraries, one upstairs, and the other downstairs. He instructed his family members that should there be any fire accident, the first thing to do is to save his books, because those books made him what he is.

Although some people may consider his idea crazy, but it goes to show the value he attaches to books.
Without them, people may not be able to achieve all that they should.

Because most people are busy, coupled with the bad traffic situation in urban centres, the enthusiasm to go to bookshops for needed materials is predictably low among the reading class. This, therefore, brings the need for mobile bookshops. 

The concept of mobile bookshops is quite new in Nigeria, but operators raised the hope that more people would embrace the concept in the nearest future.

According to the Managing Director, Broadmind Publishing Ventures, -a mobile bookshop and resource centre located in Ajao Estate Lagos, Mr. Etim Offiong, a mobile bookshop is one without a fixed place.

He says our customers make requests for some materials, we source for them, and take these materials to our customers wherever they are.

The name mobile bookshop does not mean we deal only on books. Journals, magazines, CDs, DVDs, are some other materials we deal on. A unique feature of this kind of bookshop is that it seeks for the convenience of those who want these materials or resources,�€ Offiong further adds. 

To start up this kind of business, a major requirement is a passion for knowledge, because you must have a definite knowledge of what you are selling, as you may need to explain to customers about your materials. Also at times, you have to make one or two recommendations, so it is very essential that you have some knowledge of books.

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Offiong says starting up is quite easy. The best way to start is by involving friends and families, these people, in most cases, are always ready to support you. Your friends would begin to tell others about your services, and before you know it, the calls start coming and Bingo, you are there!. 

Although it may be hard to believe, Offiong says that you can start with as low as N5,000. Just make sure you have sources from where you can obtain these books and at a discounted rate. Usually, once a substantial purchase has been made, you would be given discounts. Therefore you must always negotiate with your sources. Get contacts, it is very essential. Before you begin, go into the market, see how things are run by others. It is very essential to get advice from people who have been in the business before you, he insists. 

The actual materials needed are very easy to obtain. First, you need a space, a little space would do Offiong advises, it may not necessarily be an office, it could be just a little corner in your room or so.

Just ensure that it is enough for you to place a shelf where the books can be stored, to keep away dust, and other things that might destroy them.
Also you may need little materials like price stickers and maybe nylons/packs, with which to put the books for your customers.

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Later as the business grows, you can begin to bring in other things like receipts, invoices, etc..

To save costs, you may need to start on your own so that you may be able to test the market, see what people are demanding, and later, you may need to get one or two more people to meet increasing demands. As time goes on, and as the business enlarges, operational issues such as getting some equipment like computer systems maybe needed. This would help for adequate record keeping.

A resource manager, Mr. Niyi Fowobaje, who is also involved in the mobile bookshop business, says it could be a very challenging venture. The major challenge in this kind of business is the issue of building your customers. You know we go to meet people to tell them about our business, and some people are not even ready to listen to whatever you have to say. It is after a while that people begin to know you, and then they can come to you for a change.

You therefore have to be prepared to do a lot of marketing, bearing in mind that you will spend some money on transporting yourself from place to place Niyi continues, so the easiest thing to do is get your friends to tell their friends about your business. That way the job is easier. 

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Commenting on the profitability of the venture, however, both Offiong and Niyi agree that after you’ve dedicated a period of time to the business, profits will then start to come in. We make about N500, N1,000 or even more depending on the book. So imagine if we sell up to 20 in a day�€.

Any kind of books can be sold in a mobile bookshop. Offiong says, We source for books on leadership, management, career, business, entrepreneurship, biographies, autobiographies, military books, CDs, DVDs, journals, magazines, Harvard Business reviews and so on. 

Niyi said that when one contacts the right people, he can have easy access to very uncommon books and can usually provide them at prices cheaper than what the customers themselves would have been able to obtain them for.

He went further to say that people should not deal with pirated materials.

One, however, has to guard against dealing in pirated books, because once customers find out that they are not getting the best quality books, they would stop patronising such a dealer.

Also remember that you cannot market a book you are not conversant with. Above all it is necessary to be thrifty, spend only on those things that you absolutely can’t do without in the business.

Niyi was quick to add that it pays to be time conscious, that way, your customers know you’re serious and that would make them respect you and patronise you the more.

By Udeme Ekwere

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