Lincolnwood bookseller links to Greek tomes
The Greek Bookstore
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:36AM
Joining an increasing number of small business owners that choose to operate without a traditional store front, Dimitris Kostopoulos of Lincolnwood runs his company, “The Greek Bookstore,” strictly from the Web.
There, he sells thousands of hard-to-find Greek titles each year to Greek-Americans all over the U.S. and Canada.
Kostopoulos, a native of Greece who moved to the Chicago area in 2006, says his goal is to foster a connection between Greek publishers and American readers looking for every genre of reading material from children’s books and cookbooks to educational literature and popular novels written in Greek.
His web site, greekbookstore.com, carries more than 550 titles. Some are bestselling American novels like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” for example, translated from English to Greek, and others are rare books distributed by small unknown Greek publishers.
“I think it’s important to keep the Greek language alive,” Kostopoulos said. “It’s not just the Greeks, though because everyone loves to learn about Greek culture and mythology and what we’ve contributed to the world throughout history.”
During the past seven years, Kostopoulos has sold books and book collections to the U.S. Department of State, 12 public libraries across the U.S. and a host of Greek schools, churches and museums located in the North Shore area and beyond.
A highly niched collection of books has lent to The Greek Bookstore’s popularity, especially among Greek schools who seek out Kostopoulos for hard-to-find text books used by the Greek and Cypriot Public School systems.
To ensure his website carries the latest titles from Greek publishers, Kostopoulos travels to Greece at least twice a year to meet with big-name book publishers like Savalas Publishers, Dioptra Publications and Psichogios Publications to get insight on what’s hot now.
“We carry books from 20 out of the 100 biggest publishers in Greece, but we also support smaller publishers and authors who want to promote their books,” Kostopoulos said.
Kostopoulos, who works in finance as his day job, spent eight years in the U.S. before moving back to Greece temporarily between 2002 and 2006. It was during that time he had his light bulb moment to launch a website selling Greek books.
After arriving back in the U.S., he started selling children’s books from his site and later added novels to the mix.
With big online retailers like Amazon, it’s hard to imagine how a small online bookstore operating out of a small town like Lincolnwood is able to make it in such a competitive book-selling market, but Kostopoulos said his business is special because it caters to a very specific niche of customers.
“Besides Amazon, there are probably at least 12 other Greek book and gift stores out there on the Internet, but we’re the only one that just sells books,” Kostopoulos said. “We just do that and we do it well.”
Kostopoulos said the design of his website — which has English descriptions and allows customers to select a book and check out in three clicks of the mouse — is also key to his business’s success.
The Greek Bookstore offers free delivery to the Chicago Loop area and to the Lincolnwood community. Book pick-up is also available at the Hellenic American Academy in Deerfield on Saturdays. All other orders are shipped next business day and reach anywhere in the U.S. in three days.
“We haven’t increased our costs in the past five years, so I don’t do this for the money, but because I find it fascinating,” Kostopoulos said. “The important thing is to put people in touch with Greek literature — I do it because I love it.”