Online bookstore is one of the most widely accepted form of online home based internet business. You can start an online bookstore that sells many titles or you can launch a specialized online bookstore if you have a strong knowledge in a particular subject of interest. You should be able to grasp your targeted audience need should you have a personally interest in that subject.
If you have sources to obtain hardcopy books and you can take of shipping and returns you can easily differentiate yourself from the larger online book sellers like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com that carries almost any titles.
If you don't have the skills to handle stocks and shipping matter not all is loss, instead of competing and distances yourself from the big boys, you can work together with them by signing up for an affiliate program with Amazon.com to start selling books offered by Amazon. Amazon sells both hardcopy and digital format (in the form of ebook and ebook for Kindle). This offers a great option for your customers. The advantage of selling affiliate on Amazon is that you don't need to worry of shipping as it will be taken of by Amazon. Affiliate program is also known as Associates Program in Amazon, you sign for free using this link:
Alternative, if you can incorporate the book review business model in your online bookstore. You can write review of what the book is about, the details provided, who would be the best person to read the book and ease of understand what is written.
To help enhance your online bookstore, you can try to build a database that provide value-added reading for each selection you have listed on your site. This section could be anything from author reviews, readers comment or review and biographies to a section excerpt you find specially interesting or anything that made the book stand out from the rest. Whatever you decide to use to help enhance the listings on your online bookstore, you will be adding more value to the products that you offer.
In the beginning, this type of online business model could be run on a part-time basis and run all by yourself. Some of the open source Content Management System (CMS) you can use are Wordpress, Prestar shop, Joomla or even Drupal. Unless you have the technical knowledge to setup and make use of these CMS, you may need to make a budget to getting you online store up by hiring a web designer.