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Starting a Book Business: Samantha @ Scndhndbks

Hello Readers & Friends,

I'm sure many of you know by now that I love supporting independent stores and creators. I came across Sam's page just before it launched, and have been following it with interest ever since. ScndHndBks is a little online space where people can buy second-hand books at very reasonable prices, and unlike other similar sites, the difference is that they are all YA.

Sam, who describes herself as a reader, writer, blogger, dog mama, digital marketing manager and now... book shop owner (!) kindly chatted to me about her exciting endeavour and I'm excited to be share her story and advice for anyone else wanting to start an indie bookish business!

How it all started:

"I'd always had a dream of running a book shop but the financial elements of it made it seem impossible. My initial idea was to start selling my own used books online but I couldn't figure out a way to do it without involving other people. One day, whilst I was suffering from a very bad cold, all my ideas merged into one and I registered the website name in the heat of a fever! As someone who is all about trying to live a sustainable life the idea of creating a second hand book shop specialising in young adult and children's literature seemed like the perfect business for me! "

The struggle she hadn't expected:

"My own insecurities - of which I don't usually have many! It's funny how as soon as you open a shop and put yourself on the line you start to feel like you've made a mistake and you just want to shrink away from it! Every day is a day to tell myself to keep going and I'd offer that advice to anyone and everyone doing ANYTHING that scares them. Keep going; push through the fear, it might all work out! "

Her secret tips for finding the best second-hand books:

"Definitely charity/thrift shops but also Facebook market place - your local community probably has more hidden gems than you realise!"

Her favourite find (so far!):

"I loved the 100th year anniversary of Wind in the Willows because it's a classic book and the reprint was stunning but I'll always love finding the Harry Potter series in the wild! "

On her team:

"I'm definitely at the forefront of the business but my boyfriend is a huge part of the whole thing! He helps me with the book shopping, often finding things I've overlooked, and he's got more of a maths mind, so takes all the anxiety out of the money side of things for me (I am dyslexic and numbers cause me to have huge anxiety). "

Sam's personal favourite reads:

"Young adult fantasy books are my bread and butter - I love falling into fantasy books and if there are vampires, werewolves or witches that's a huge plus for me! I have been finding a lot of joy in young adult science fiction recently as well so I'm on the lookout to find more books in that genre."

On Bookstagram:

"I love the bookstagram community - it's a tough nut to crack because it's so huge but every single interaction I have with either my own followers or just accounts I follow and comment on, is friendly and fun. I think book nerds are the best types of people! "

On her everyday routine:

"My morning always starts at 7:30 with a walk with the dog (@junobonbuno), shortly followed by breakfast and at least one episode of whatever TV show I'm watching! I like a lazy morning and have to have a couple of hours to officially wake up before heading off to my day job as digital marketing manager. Thankfully, I get to take my dog to work with me and the workplace is very casual so I'm generally juggling my real work with my side-businesses throughout the day. I try to post on Facebook and Instagram during my lunch break and do all my social media interactions in that one hour slot in the day because whilst I'd love for my bookshop to be more full time, it's only just getting started and it doesn't demand too much of my time right now! When I get home from work I cook dinner (me and my boyfriend are both vegan and cooking is one of my favourite hobbies so I'll mostly spend an hour cooking something from scratch) and then I try to do some writing work - either on my current manuscript or a blog piece - and end the day with a yoga session and a book in bed at about 11pm. I'm tired just thinking about it!"

About the hands-on nature of her business:

"As it's just been Christmas I have a lot of boxes from various other things I've bought over the past few months - because of costs I'm working through re-purposing those boxes to ship out items so if you get something from us that comes in a repurposed box don't be surprised! I'm all about reducing, reusing and recycling - just check my kitchen cupboards for all the glass jars and bottles I collect :P One day I plan on having branded book boxes but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself!
My local post office is incredibly small and very well used by all the small businesses and elderly generation crammed into the village so it's always a hub of activity when I drop off orders to be sent out. I love to stand in line and have a sneaky listen to whatever is going on around me!"

On choosing her books:

"I love finding the best condition books I can find so that's a huge contributing factor but I do stock what I like to call 'pre-loved' books; those are the ones that might have some torn pages or really well-cracked spines. I enjoy finding those kinds of conditions for more classic books like The Little Prince or The Secret Garden because I feel like it adds to their charm. I'm a huge reader of young adult books, though, and I write YA fiction so I generally know what books are popular and like to think I know what like-minded readers will like."

Advice for bookish business wannabes:

"To plan, plan and plan. Lists are life, I swear by them. I'd always suggest making a list of everything you think you'll need and then once you feel kind of prepared JUST DO IT. Watch that Shia LaBeouf video and get pumped up! When you start anything you're always going to have to work your way up so don't wait for a perfect moment - if you feel the passion, let it rip!"

Sam's biggest challenge:

"It's an ongoing challenge to figure out which books are going to sell and whether we'll make a profit (as per every business, every day)! It's also an ongoing struggle to try to reach the right people as Facebook and Instagram have very different types of book consumers so every day is an adventure in targeting the right audience. Good job I do it for my day job or my head would hurt a lot more! "

On the future of ScndHndBks:

"Future plans involve getting a regular book stall on the go in my local town to become a local fixture - scndhndbks is an attempt to create a book lovers community both locally but also in the bookstagram community so building our stock list and presence is a huge item on my list of things to do this year. In the absolute long term I would love to get a bricks and mortar book shop up and running. Always specialising in YA and children's literature, of course! "

Sam's end note:

"As much as I want people to turn into friends and customers I am still a huge advocate for people finding their own books in charity shops or independent book shops - it doesn't have to be mine! It's easy to buy books cheap from giant corporations but when you can put that money into the pocket of someone who it will make a difference to, it seems silly not to! "

So, there you have it. 

Find your next read at Scndhndbks, or support Sam's business on Instagram and be first to know when stock drops!

Love, C x

All images in this post belong to Scndhndbks.


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