A new Lawrenceville store brings good news for bookworms who tend to read by the pound.
Now, they can pay that way, too.
“We’re trying to keep it interesting for book lovers,” said Cris Williams.
Williams is one of four owners of Books by the Pound, a store that opened relatively quietly this past Saturday in the space where Staples used to be at 860 Duluth Highway. It’s a store that — as the name suggests — sells books by the pound.
“Our prices start at $3.99 a pound and go down the more you buy,” Williams said.
Customers can buy their first three pounds of books for $3.99 a pound, the second five pounds for $2.99 a pound and everything after that for $1.99 a pound.
The store is crammed with what Williams’ partner, Justin Krewatch, calls “gently used” books. They’re spread on low tables and divided into rough sections, not stacked as pristine as you’d find in a big-box bookstore.
Krewatch said some books come to them with slight creases or worn edges. Others are in mint condition. It doesn’t matter. They’re all for sale by the pound.
“It still has that element of kind of a book sale,” Williams said. “It’s kind of like we said in one of our ads — a book sale that never ends.”
At least, Williams, Krewatch and their partners, Kevin Shaw and Todd Harrison, hope the book sale never ends.
Books by the Pound is a three-month test store. If it moves enough product and makes enough money in that period, it’ll become a permanent store and the owners will start talking about expanding into other metro Atlanta locations.
The concept behind Books by the Pound is relatively untested. Williams said he’s aware there may be a few smaller stores around the country that operate on the same pay-by-the-pound principle, but the only one that came to mind sold books for about $7.99 a pound.
“I don’t think there’s anything at this scale or this inexpensive by the pound,” he said. “We might be the first to do that, that I’ve seen, anyway.”
If the new concept doesn’t grab the community’s attention in three months, the store will close.
“We just need to move a lot of product,” Krewatch said. “The numbers need to be working. People need to be filling up their baskets.”
Krewatch said he expects they’ll have a good idea of whether the store will survive by the end of the first month. But he and Williams don’t seem particularly worried.
They feel confident the concept makes sense from a business angle. Krewatch said it’s easier to sell thousand of books at a time when employees don’t have to individually price each one.
And the owners have thousands of books to sell. Some of the store’s books will come from trades. Customers can trade in old books for credits they can use toward buying new ones.
But a vast majority of Books by the Pound’s stock will come from products their parent company can’t sell online.
Books by the Pound is owned by AmeriFolio, LLC, which has a warehouse in Suwanee and has been selling books online since 2014. A bookstore has been in the works for years as a way to move books they can’t sell online or that might sell better in person.
“We have a lot of books that come through our doors. Several truck loads a week,” Williams said. “So, what we do is we put them online for sale. But you can only have so many copies of a book online at one time as a company.”
Now, the extra books go to the store, where they’re sold cheaper than they would have been online.
“So, if you look at the books that are online now, I think the cheapest prices are around $4, even for a penny book by the time you pay for shipping,” Williams said.
Krewatch said that makes the concept just as beneficial to the customer as it is to the company.
“From the customer’s side, it’s nice to walk into a store where you’re not going to be disappointed because you pick up a book that you want and it’s way too expensive,” Krewatch said. “You know the lay of the land when you come in. You can really have at it.”
Georgia Gwinnett College students Christian Ruiz and Antonio Pereira enjoyed that benefit so much Wednesday that they came back Thursday, this time with friend Kris Pena in tow.
“We think it’s really cool. We decided to come in because we saw the sign that said ‘Books by the Pound,’ so we wanted to see if it was really by the pound and it is,” Ruiz said.
The three can also benefit from a 10 percent discount the store is offering to students, teachers and military personnel. If it gets to stick around, Williams said the store would eventually stock the books students needed as supplemental reading in a different section, making it easy and cheap for students to find the books they needed.
Pereira had already picked up some books his younger brother needed for high school. Both he and Ruiz said they’d be back for their supplemental reading.
“This would have been great to have when we were in high school, too,” Ruiz said.
Williams and Krewatch both said they’ve received feedback similar to that from customers since Saturday. That’s why they feel optimistic the store will work, so far.
“People need affordable and they need simple,” Krewatch said. “And we just thought this was the way to do that.”