January 27, 2023


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Bookseller: Les Lettres minuscules tries to take off amid crisis

The book world has had a chaotic year. After a lockdown that deprived booksellers of income for two months, these professionals are seeing many customers return. It is in this context that Carole Marie launched its bookshop-tea room Lowercase letters in Beaujeu, in the Rhône, in mid-May 2020, encountering both the constraints linked to the coronavirus crisis and the difficulties inherent in the very nature of this trade.

Installed for three years in the small town of 2,000 inhabitants, Carole Marie worked remotely for a consulting firm. ” At the beginning of last year, I discovered a bookstore in a Jura town which had the same characteristics as Beaujeu. I was surprised that such a trade could find its economic balance there. It was the click »Says the thirty-five-year-old entrepreneur, already keen to develop projects at the local level.

Test customer tastes

While following continuous training, the consultant sets up her estimated budget and business plan on her own. She buys walls to renovate for her future business in the heart of Beaujeu. ” I wanted to be as close as possible to the tourist site, Maison du terroir. From there I didn’t have much of a choice », She justifies. To finance the purchase and the works, the thirty-something relies largely on her personal contribution and benefits from a bank loan of 20,000 euros as well as a subsidy of the same amount from the regional directorate of cultural affairs ( DRAC) from Rhône-Alpes.

Before becoming a bookseller, Carole Marie worked remotely for a consulting firm.
– Lowercase Letters

In these exceptional circumstances, Carole Marie adapts her strategy of openness. In May, when the purchase of books was almost at a standstill and the delivery very long, she fell back on used books. ” I bought a large lot without knowing what was inside. And finally, it was not worse. I was able to test the tastes of my customers for a lower cost. I sold all the books of poetry, I wouldn’t have thought it would work so much She enthuses. Today, it rebalances with new products, while taking into account the expectations of its customers.

However, opening accounts with distributors and broadcasters was not easy. To the laborious administrative part is added the study of the plethora of catalogs of publishing houses and the preparation of the assortment of books. This young professional did not feel in a position of strength. ” The bookstore is the retail with the lowest margin. We must try to negotiate with the suppliers to have the best possible commercial conditions. But I felt I didn’t have that much wiggle room », She regrets.

“The bookstore is the retail business with the lowest margin. ”
– Lowercase Letters


To improve this margin, the profession recommends that booksellers diversify. It is partly for this reason that Carole Marie opened a tea Room in his shop. ” It was also to offer a friendly place, which meets a need and attracts », She says.

In these first months of practice, Claire Marie is testing in all directions. She adapts her quantities, her books… If at the beginning, she did not know how often she should order books, she found the right cursor by opting for a twice-weekly rate. ” It is a good compromise: it allows to limit the expenses in transport costs by not multiplying the orders, while having regular rotations », She adds. Still very young, the bookstore is looking for its cruising speed and will make a first assessment after the end of the year celebrations, an event as crucial in the life of such a business as the literary return.