You Don’t Open A Bookstore to Become Rich (except in BOOKS)

By Bobbe Arnett

Twenty-eight years ago this month, my sister Tricia and I opened Mostly Books.  We considered Beaucoup Books and a few other names but settled on Mostly Books as that is what we had in the store.  We began with used books, unique greeting cards, and gifts.  Our dad wondered what we were going to do with so many empty shelves in the store but it did not take long to fill them up by trading books for credit toward used books. Soon we started putting books on the top of shelves and then adding bookshelves to every nook and cranny we could find. 

As the years went on, we added more and more new books as customers kept requesting them.  We worked with many local authors to promote their books.  We have always sold fiction, mysteries, children’s books, non-fiction, psychology, romance, westerns, southwest books and many other subjects. When the big chain bookstores moved into Tucson we adjusted our inventory again adding more and more backlist books.  We greatly increased our selection of recovery books and we now carry all things recovery related including medallions and gifts.  Selling books at offsite events and conferences also became critical to our survival.  We look forward to the Tucson Festival of Books every March because we know we will sell tons of books, meet authors and market to thousands of new customers.

When another used bookstore moved into our shopping center, we increased our new book selection, t-shirts, mugs, sleep shirts and other book related merchandise.  Our book inventory is now about half new books and half used books.  Our greeting card section continues to grow as well and many of our customers say we have the best selection in Tucson.

Online booksellers, e-books and e-readers have also affected our sales tremendously.  When people could buy the same book cheaper online and with no sales tax, they went for it in a big way.  A lot of book lovers’ family bought them e-readers as gifts.  We responded by selling Kobo e-readers and Kobo e-books on our website.  The e-book trend has also inspired more people to read and has even help increase sales in our new books.  People are finding that they want the physical book as well as the digital copy when the book is amazing.

Everyone who works in the bookstore is a book enthusiast.  We love talking about books, discovering new books, open boxes that only contain books - if books are involved we are happy.  So of course we all read A LOT and most of us belong to several book clubs.  The nice thing about employing only book lovers is that our book selection is very selective.  We try hard to find amazing authors to introduce to our customers so that our shelves never stay stagnant.  It also means that are staff is happy to recommend a new author to our customers and, even better, will tell you that they have already read it and found it to be incredible.  Our personalize customer service has help create loyal customers, and we truly won’t be here without their continual support.

Many people come in and say they want to open a bookstore when they retire so they can sit and read all day.  We find that quite amusing and tell them we only get to read at home, not while working.

If you live in Tucson, you can find the wonderful people of Mostly Books and their extensive inventory of books at the Monterey Village, 6208 E Speedway Blvd. Also, give them a call at (520) 571-0110. Mostly Books is extremely friendly towards Indie and Local Authors - I know from experience - so make sure you support them with a visit and your business. You can also find them online at

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