This is my very first post here, I discovered StartupNation two weeks ago, have been browsing ever since and have already found lots of useful information.
My name is Inge Geleyn, I live in Belgium and have been working as a freelance translator, editor and copywriter for the last 6 years. However, I feel it is time for a change, and I am seriously looking into the possibility of starting my own personal book shopper business.
While browsing through the forums I came across a very helpful post on a similar topic:
but of course every business idea is different/has a different focus, and I was hoping that you guys would care to comment on my particular business concept (it is still in the brainstorm stage, still needs lots of tweaking and further research).
As I see it now, I would be offering:
1) book title suggestions for people who are buying books as gifts: these suggestions would either be delivered in an attractive, personalised booklet at their home address or I could buy the books for them and have them delivered at their home address (I am considering offering both options as some people still prefer to go out and buy books themselves but do need help with coming up with ideas for what to buy)
2) greeting card service (as a side-product): a gift usually comes with an appropriate greeting card, to save the book buyers even more time I would then offer to include a greeting card with the books/book suggestions
3) more extensive `book dossier`: a more expensive option in which I would do thorough research and compile a comprehensive list of book titles on a particular subject - clearly not for gift buyers but for individuals/companies that need all the relevant information available on a particular subject (e.g. a business person moving to another country will probably want to read up on every aspect of that country, an academic doing research on a certain topic who quickly needs an overview of the specialised literature available...)
4) a `corporate` service: aimed at people responsible for buying business gifts for their company - I would either offer to compile fun/interesting/original book packages for them or they could buy `my serivce` (option 1) in the form of gift certificates and give their employees etc a personalised service instead of a product
I think the emphasis should always be on the time-saving aspect + my expertise in finding people what they want/need/couldn`t come up with themselves (due to lack of inspiration, lack of time, lack of research skills, knowledge of the book market...).
Personal shopping is not yet a widely spread phenomenon in Belgium, and I realise that the US and Belgian market differ in some aspects, but I would really appreciate all your comments, ideas and questions!
A few questions that come to mind:
- is it, as described above, a viable business concept, do you think people are willing to pay for this kind of specialised service (i.e. only books/book-related)
- would you go about it differently/which options would you not include/are there other options you would include - all ideas welcome
- pricing: I think it would be best to charge for the services itself (and not just ask for a percentage of the book price) but how much would you be willing to pay for each of the options above?
- target market: I am trying to define my target audience, which is of course book lovers/readers but I need to narrow it down a little bit more;-) At first I am planning on promoting my business only locally and I was thinking about marketing to travel agencies (people booking a trip usually want to read something about their destination and/or are looking for good holiday reads), day care centres (parents never have enough time to spare but do find it important to be able to offer their children good reading choices, so they might be interested in hiring a personal book shopper) etc. I have a few more ideas but this post is already too long - all input welcome though.
Thanks in advance for all your help, I am looking forward to getting to know you guys! And I promise to be more concise next time:-)
P.S. (a little further reading material) I have been contemplating this personal book shopper thing for a long time, but after reading this article last year I decided to go ahead with it instead of just dreaming about it.