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Opening an English bookstore in Poland - what are the prospects and profitability?


abby123 3 | 1
3 Oct 2013  #1
I'm moving to Poland in the next few months to teach English with Berlitz (yeah I know but its a foot in the door) and once things stabilise and whatnot financially I'm interested in opening and English bookstore. What say you on the prospects and profitability of such a venture, oh peoples of Polishforums?
cms 9 | 1,272
3 Oct 2013  #2
Not sure - in Warsaw there is some pretty good competition from the American Bookstore (have about 5 shops and while the choice is not great I normally find something worth reading) and I imagine Amazon is making big inroads into the expat market. Rents are quite high in good locations (often more than Western Europe).

There are a few other places offering new and old books. I dont know if Reddings is still going - that was the best attempt but its in an inconvenient part of town. Outside Warsaw you might make a living but from a quite limited market.

Anyway goodluck because I love bookshops :)
Harry
3 Oct 2013  #3
I'm interested in opening and English bookstore. What say you on the prospects and profitability of such a venture, oh peoples of Polishforums?

Dig a hole, burn all your money, put the ashes in the hole and then bury them. It'll be far quicker and easier. The aforementioned American Bookstores are well established and have a well recognised brand but even they are very much struggling. A large part of their trouble come from the fact that Amazon now deliver for free to Poland and Amazon have prices half those of the American Bookstore. Not the American Bookstore help themselves: the last time I wanted to order a book from them, they just point-blank refused, even when I said I'd pay when I ordered.
johnb121 4 | 184
3 Oct 2013  #4
As a Brit living in Poland, I use Amazon for 100% of my book buys. Even some expensive art books.
NB fwiw, you can't buy a Kindle for delivery here - you have to have it sent to a UK address - then you can download so many books, usually even cheaper! Of course, you can opt for any other cadget with a kindle app.
smurf 39 | 1,982
3 Oct 2013  #5
ig a hole, burn all your money, put the ashes in the hole and then bury them

I agree I'm afraid.
I think bookshops will soon be as dead as disco :(

But you could open a book shop and film your adventures........I presume it would end up being like a Polish version of Black Books. You might lose your money and mind along the way, but it would be hilarious.

youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aaeeCV8eRr4
Crow 137 | 7,590
3 Oct 2013  #6
I think bookshops will soon be as dead as disco :(

ahaha hhahaha hahhaha

My God, EU is one great disco. i hope it won`t die before we Serbs arrive. We also have right to take part in it
DominicB - | 2,672
3 Oct 2013  #7
Harry:
ig a hole, burn all your money, put the ashes in the hole and then bury them

I agree I'm afraid.
I think bookshops will soon be as dead as disco :(

I'll third that. The potential clientele would be quite small indeed. Far too small to sustain a profitable business. You're competing not only with established real and online bookstores, but also with plenty of online sources of free, pirated electronic versions of just about any book you can imagine, as well a inexpensive used paper versions. I'm an avid reader, but it's been many years since I actually bought a paper version of a book. Of course, a lot of it has to do with bad vision, which makes electronic versions much more actractive, but a lot has to do with the availability of these versions for free. It takes a little time and ingenuity to locate some of the more offbeat books, and recent releases are not always available, but for the most part, there's little that's not readily available.

As for potential Polish customers, that clientele is even more limited than the few expats that live in Poland. I don't meet with many Polish people that read English books. Getting your students to pick up a book and read it will be by far your greatest challenge as an English teacher. The psychological resistance is enormous.
Wroclaw Boy
3 Oct 2013  #8
I think bookshops will soon be as dead as disco

Dead as a Do Do you mean or maybe dead as a door nail. I don't see Discos being available on line anytime soon.
Ziutek 9 | 160
4 Oct 2013  #9
The naysayers are probably right but it might be worth looking at this place in Kraków to get a different perspective. It has real character and charm, a good location and probably just as importantly - a cafe. If you were able to set up something similar it might just fly.

massolit.com
johnb121 4 | 184
4 Oct 2013  #10
Did you see the recent BBC TV show - the one where a young entrepreneur goes to learn aboit a failing business and helps the owners rejuvenate? The one I saw a couple of weeks ago featured a failing bookstore with a succesful cafe upstairs keeping it afloat. Maybe, then, a combination would work - MC Beeton and an afternoon tea (English or Scottish), Herriot, roast beef and yorkshire pudding ... novelty for the Poles and a taste of home for the expats ... might work
DominicB - | 2,672
4 Oct 2013  #11
A bookstore is a high capital, low profitability business that takes plenty of business savvy and experience to pull off. Gastronomy even more so: it's not for the faint of heart or dilettantes. Someone who is trying to "get his foot in the door" by teaching English at Berlitz clearly lacks the wherewithal and know-how to make a go of it in either sort of business.
poland_
4 Oct 2013  #12
they are very much struggling

They are closing down their stores the one in Sadyba Best closed down which had a catchment area of TBS and other international schools as well as the main ares for expats.

Abby123, you can never do any real market research on a forum much better to move to Poland and find a niche in the market.
smurf 39 | 1,982
4 Oct 2013  #13
you mean or maybe

Nope, pretty common saying where I hail from man ;)

Someone who is trying to "get his foot in the door" by teaching English at Berlitz clearly lacks the wherewithal and know-how to make a go of it in either sort of business

That's not a nice thing to say man, OP just came here for some friendly advice, not a lashing.
I had to start off in a similar type of school and it's all dandy now :)

that clientele is even more limited than the few expats that live in Poland. I don't meet with many Polish people that read English books

+1, back even when I was teaching I used to recommend that students listen to podcasts/English language radio rather than read a book. Reading in a diff language just makes people exhausted and turns them off reading what might be a great book, far better off reading in your native tongue IMO.
DominicB - | 2,672
4 Oct 2013  #14
That's not a nice thing to say man, OP just came here for some friendly advice, not a lashing.

And I gave him some friendly advice, which was not to even think about starting a business in highly competitve, high capital, high risk, low profitability areas like retail and gastronomy, unless 1) you are a highly motivated, ambitious, tenacious natural-born self-starter who can take the licks and still keep ticking from early morning to late at night for years without turning a profit; 2) have sufficient capital to invest and plenty of savings to tide you over for the three, four or five years before your company finally emerges from the red; 3) have abundant academic education in business in general and the business you are going in to in particular; 4) have plenty of on-the-job business experience from working in sucessful businesses; and 5) a very realistic, analytical and practical vision that is not clouded by silly hopes and dreams viewed through rose-tinted lenses.

If the OP fulfilled these requirements, he certainly would not try to be "getting his foot in the door" as an English teacher for Berlitz. And working for Berlitz is going to do zip toward acchieving competence in starting a business. Nothing "not nice" in pointing out the bleeding obvious.

+1, back even when I was teaching I used to recommend that students listen to podcasts/English language radio rather than read a book. Reading in a diff language just makes people exhausted and turns them off reading what might be a great book, far better off reading in your native tongue IMO.

There's no substitute for reading. Podcasts and radio are a good supplement, but a lousy subtitute. Non-readers never, ever achieve a high level of proficiency in any language, not even their own. They reach a certain level of basic spoken communicative proficiency and level off there, often getting frustrated and giving up the language altogether. Their writing remains horrific. There is no other way to get out of that trap than reading, reading and more reading. No pain, no gain.
smurf 39 | 1,982
4 Oct 2013  #15
I gave him some friendly advice

You certainly gave advice, you were just a bit mean about it man. Usually your advice is really, really sound and delivered in a warm-hearted yet firm way. I certainly don't want to see you turning into something like some of our more weathered, mean-spirited posters.

There's no substitute for reading

I wouldn't agree, diff strokes, diff folks I think. I've got 2 good Polish mates here who've never read a word of English since leaving school and have better English than some of the 'native-speaker' teachers I know here. They picked it up from conversing with Eng speakers and watching films/tv series.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
4 Oct 2013  #16
Start carefully if you feel it might work. Perhaps get a stall in a covered market for a month or two, and see how it goes.

And don't forget the obvious -- people downloading English books on to an e-reader.

FWIW the Poles here that I know of buy their real (English lang) books from Amazon.
sobieski 107 | 2,128
7 Oct 2013  #17
I dont know if Reddings is still going

Nope, sadly Reddings went out of business I think like two years ago. American Bookstore is to my liking very expensive. Although I browse through their books and later order them at Amazon.

The public library at ul. Meissnera 5 (Praga) has a lot of English-language books and very helpful staff.


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