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Books and Brews: A Guide to Opening a Book Cafe

Last Updated: July 3, 2024

Ray Oldenburg’s book “The Great Good Place” explores the concept of “third places,” where people can meet, set aside their concerns from their long hours of work, and hang out with the intention of having good company and lively conversation. 

Some of the places he noted were coffee shops and bookstores, which play crucial roles in fostering a sense of community and social cohesion. 

Now, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur or well-versed business owner with the same vision as the author, having a book cafe is the perfect opportunity to turn your vision into a reality. 

But just like any other business, you always have to go through the process of defining your concept, conducting market research, deciding on the technology to use, such as digital boards or a QR code menu, and many other aspects. 

That’s why we’ve created this simple guide to help you find your way to build a place where people can relax and enjoy. 

What’s a book cafe?

This type of cafe is a hybrid establishment that combines the functions of a bookstore and a coffee shop.

This provides a space for customers where they can enjoy reading books while sipping on their favorite beverages. 

This concept capitalizes on the synergy between the love for books and the social atmosphere of a cafe. 

True enough, a research study in 2018 authored by Thahir and Krishnapillai of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman found that ambiance significantly influences the patrons’ intention to revisit cafes, which aligns well with the purpose of a book coffee shop.

This blend creates a vibrant community hub that caters to both book enthusiasts and coffee lovers, enhancing customer engagement and loyalty. 

7 simple steps to do when opening a bookstore cafe 

Book cafe plannin
A customer reading a book.

Define your concept and vision 

Your book cafe’s theme is the heart of your business.

Do you envision a cozy nook filled with classic literature, a modern space with the latest bestsellers, or a cultural hub that hosts local authors and book clubs? 

Define your vision clearly to guide every decision you make. 

Conduct a market research

Once you’ve decided on the concept and vision you’re going for, conduct market research and identify your target audience. 

This is essential for curating your offerings and the books you’ll sell in your cafe. 

Ask yourself these questions: Am I catering to students, professionals, families, or a mix of all? 

Study your competitors in the area and analyze the books and coffee shop industry trends in both the cafe and bookstore industry. 

This will help you carve out a niche for your cafe.

Find the perfect location

Choose a strategic location. 

Look for areas with high foot traffic, such as near universities, offices, or shopping districts. Ensure the location is accessible and has ample parking or is close to public transport.  

Alongside that, make sure that you create a layout that balances comfort and functionality. Incorporate cozy seating, good lighting, and well-organized bookshelves. 

Have designated areas for reading, socializing, and events. 

Curate your book selection

Offer a variety of genres of books to appeal to different tastes. 

Include fiction, non-fiction, classics, bestsellers, and local authors. Consider adding a children’s section if your target audience includes families. 

Partner with local authors and publishers to feature their work. Hosting book signings, readings, and author events can create a sense of community and potentially attract more customers. 

Develop your book cafe menu 

book cafe menu
List of menu items for the cafe.

Your cafe should also offer a selection of high-quality coffee, teas, and other beverages. 

Pair these with a menu of delicious snacks, pastries, and light meals. Think of the dietary preferences and include options for vegetarians, vegans, and those with gluten intolerance. 

Partner with local suppliers to ensure fresh and high-quality ingredients. Highlighting local products can also appeal to customers who value supporting their community. 

Set up your book cafe business 

Legally setting up your business is crucial for smooth operation. 

You should start by choosing a business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation) and registering your business name. 

Obtain necessary licenses and permits, including a business license, food service license, health department permit, sales tax permit, and building/zoning permits. 

For further understanding of local regulations, consult with a legal advisor and an accountant to ensure all legal and financial aspects are covered. This will allow you to focus on creating a welcoming environment. 

Invest in quality equipment

This is essential for the seamless workflow and ambiance of your bookstore coffee shop. 

Start by purchasing high-grade coffee machines and kitchen appliances so you can serve delicious beverages and snacks efficiently.

Furnish your space with comfortable, durable furniture that enhances your business’s atmosphere.

Well-designed bookshelves are crucial for displaying your book collection attractively and accessibly. 

Additionally, implement a reliable point-of-sale system to streamline transactions, manage inventory, and provide excellent customer service. 

Plan your marketing and promotion

Book cafe webiste
The owner checking his cafe's webpage.

Create a user-friendly website and optimize social media for restaurants and cafes to connect with potential customers.

Regularly update these platforms with news about your cafe, upcoming promotions, and events to generate excitement and attract visitors. 

Use high-quality photos and engaging content to showcase your cafe’s unique atmosphere and offerings. 

You can also organize a variety of events, such as book readings, author signings, book clubs, and themed nights, to draw in crowds and create a vibrant community atmosphere.

These events not only attract new customers but also provide a reason for your regulars to keep coming back, turning your bookstore cafe into a cultural hub. 

Provide excellent customer service 

Ensure your staff is knowledgeable about coffee and books. 

They should be friendly, approachable, and ready to assist customers with recommendations and queries. 

Make your cafe a place where people feel comfortable and valued. 

One way to do that is to streamline your workflow using technology like a self-service kiosk or advanced tools to make the whole order-taking process hassle-free. 

A positive customer experience will encourage repeat visits and foster loyalty. 

Top book coffeeshops in the United States

We’ve gathered this list of book coffee shops as your benchmark once you open your business in your area. 

Books & Books

Bookstore and coffee shop
Website of Books and Books.

This indie bookstore chain has six multiple locations in South Florida, each featuring a cafe with coffee, pastries, and light bites.

The flagship store in Coral Gables is renowned for its frequent author readings and community events. 

Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse

Indepedent bookstore
Local bookstore and coffee shop.

Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse is another fantastic addition to the list of top book coffee shops in the United States.

Located at the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico, this independent bookstore and coffeehouse offers a curated selection of books focusing on local and regional interests and national bestsellers. 

The cozy coffeehouse serves various coffee drinks, teas, and pastries. Collected Works also hosts frequent literary events, including author readings and book signings that make it a vibrant hub for the local community. 

Watermark Books & Cafe 

Books and cafe
The official website of this book cafe.

Located in Wichita, Kansas, Watermark Books & Café is a cherished independent bookstore combining a diverse book selection with a cozy cafe. 

This offers a range of book cafe menu items, such as coffee drinks and teas, and a menu that includes breakfast, lunch, and pastries. 

Watermark Books is known for its community-focused atmosphere. It hosts numerous author events, book clubs, and other literary gatherings. 

Explore Booksellers

Victorian-inspired bookstore.

Nestled in a charming Victorian house in Aspen, Explore Booksellers offers a wide selection of books, with an emphasis on literary fiction, non-fiction, and local interest titles. 

The bookstore also features a cozy cafe known as Pyramid Bistro, which serves organic and locally sourced meals, coffee, and pastries. 

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe

Book and coffee community
Malprop's hub in Ashville.

Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe is known for its welcoming atmosphere, extensive book selection, and vibrant community events.

The cafe offers a variety of coffee drinks, teas, and pastries. Malaprop is celebrated for its focus on fostering a love of reading and literature through frequent author readings, book signings, and literary discussions. 

Liberty Bay Books 

liberty bay books
liberty bay books

Liberty Bay Books, located in the picturesque town of Poulsbo, Washington, is another independent bookstore offering a wide variety of books, including local authors, bestsellers, and unique finds. 

The store also features a cozy coffee shop where visitors can enjoy coffee, tea, and pastries. 

Liberty Bay Books is known for its friendly atmosphere and community engagement. It regularly hosts author events, book clubs, and other literary activities. 

Greenlight Bookstore

Greenlight bookshop
Brooklyn's independent bookstore.

With two locations in Brooklyn, Greenlight Bookstore is known for its curated selection of books. 

The store emphasizes community and literary engagement. Each location has a cafe where customers can enjoy coffee, tea, and light snacks while browsing. 

Greenlight hosts numerous author events, book clubs, and other community activities, making it a vibrant hub for book lovers. 

5 essential tools for running a successful coffee and Bookshop

Point of sales (POS) systems 

A robust POS system is vital for processing transactions, tracking sales, and managing inventory. 

Modern POS systems integrate hardware like registers, barcode scanners, and receipt printers with software that records sales data, applies discounts, and manages customer orders.

By streamlining the checkout process, providing detailed sales analytics, and supporting various payment methods (cash, credit/debit cards, mobile payments), POS systems enhance operational efficiency, improve customer service, and provide valuable insights into business performance. 

QR code menu ordering system

QR code menu for cafes
Ordering through a QR code.

Implementing a QR code menu ordering system in your cafe can enhance customer experience, streamline operations, and increase efficiency. 

Your customers can order food items and books by scanning the code on their smartphones. 

They can also pay directly when they place their orders, so they don’t have to go to the counters or wait in line. 

This level of convenience can translate to better customer reviews, contributing to your brand image. 

Note: If you’re going to use this ordering tool, make sure to put instructions on how to scan a menu QR code in your table tents to accommodate customers who haven’t tried it yet.

Customer relationship management tools 

Building a loyal customer base is essential.

CRM tools help manage customer data, track preferences, and implement loyalty programs. 

This allows you to segment your customer base and send targeted communications based on specific criteria, such as favorite genres, preferred authors, or regular visit times. 

Also, A CRM can help manage various events hosted by your business by tracking attendee information, sending reminders, and collecting feedback. 

Wifi network 

Enhance your customer experience by allowing your patrons to access the internet for work, study, or leisure activities like browsing and social media.

This convenience encourages more extended visits and repeat business.

It also supports digital engagement with your cafe’s online presence, such as social media updates, event promotions, and customer feedback.

A well-managed Wifi network reflects positively on your cafe’s reputation for hospitality and modern amenities, fostering customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Inventory management software

Another essential tool is inventory management software, which can efficiently track and organize the stocks of books and other items in your cafe. 

It helps streamline operations by providing real-time visibility into inventory levels, enabling automatic reordering when stock runs low, and optimizing shelf utilization. 

This software typically includes features such as barcode scanning for quick item lookup and sales, tracking to analyze popular items, and reporting tools for inventory valuation and financial analysis. 

MENU TIGER: Your all-around QR code menu software assistant for your cafe 

menu tiger dashboard
A smart menu software for cafes.

Starting a business takes a hefty amount, especially when you’re new to the industry you’re venturing out in. 

Having a bookstore and coffee shop business at the same time can be financially challenging for several reasons, including book supply, ingredients, interior design, and other important aspects while maintaining the most efficient customer service you could offer.

To help you navigate your operations cost-efficiently, having an all-around technology like MENU TIGER digital menu QR code software is a smart choice. 

It does not only provide you the necessary tools in streamlining your workflow, but is built to assist those are starting in business and those who are veterans on the scene.

Here’s what this restaurant technology has to offer: 

Cloud-based POS system 

MENU TIGER  is a cut above the rest by having Loyverse–a cloud-based POS system, integrated into the software. 

With this point of sale and restaurant order system integration, you don’t need to purchase bulky units for it to function because you can access this through your available laptops and tablets. 

Its user-friendly interface provides you with sales analytics, inventory management, employee management, and a customer database. So you’ll have a whole package of information systems as your data provider in making an informed business decision. 

Customizable digital menu 

One particular element of a successful business is how well you present your offerings to your target customers. 

Being in the digital age, having a virtual menu as an alternative to the traditional ones can pull off a captivating presentation of your offerings. 

Even better, this smart menu software allows you to create categories of your items, making it easier for them to navigate your menu, whether it’s your specialties or bestseller books that you have. 

E-payment alternatives 

Your customers will no longer have to wait in line at the counter to pay for their orders because MENU TIGER offers e-payment alternatives with PayPal and Stripe, so they can spend more time enjoying their cup of coffee while reading their favorite book. 

Personalized website 

Strengthen your presence online as this software allows you to create your own website, making it accessible for your target audience to connect with you.

You can display not just your food items but also the books you’re selling. In the website, you can add all your social media accounts, where your customers can interact and engage with your business. 

Create the ultimate book and coffee lovers’ haven with excellent service using the MENU TIGER QR code menu

Just like any other business, opening a book cafe is not a walk in the park. 

In fact, you need to be strategic in your business planning to attract your target audience. 

Aside from having the best set of books and a well-crafted menu, one element that you should also focus on building is customer service.

An excellent service translates to better opportunities for you to succeed in this business. 

That’s what MENU TIGER smart menu software is here for. Its user-friendly interface allows entrepreneurs or business veterans to use all its features, helping to streamline and advance the workflow. 

MENU TIGER has so much more to offer. So, go to the website, sign up, and create a spot where every visit is like flipping a book to a new exciting chapter for your customers.



Before joining MENU TIGER's Content Team, Chevy has been dabbling in literary arts for five years, specifically creative writing in a theatre company. She loves exploring her creativity through painting, photography, and contemporary dancing.