the truth about being a bookseller

I had a lot of fun writing my last post about being a bookseller (found here), so I thought in my efforts to ease myself back into posting, I’d do another one. This time? The realities of selling books for a living.

  • You will never make money EVER

Being a bookblogger encourages you to buy books, I get that. Being a bookblogger and having the physical books right in front of youย all day?! On a good shift, I’ll buy one book. If it has been a long day, or my co-workers are being particularly persuasive? Anything could happen.

  • Everyone is mad here

There is something about people who sell books that’s different to anyone else I’ve ever known. They’re not the same as those who just read books, or those who sell other things. It is a bit of a calling, unlike other retail jobs. And as much as we complain – I can confirm, we do secretly love it.

  • Customers are either angels or demons – there is no in-between

We can tell who the book people are. Trust me on this.

  • Are You There, Amazon? It’s Me, Wendy.ย 

Using Amazon = extreme guilt. I know what a huge impact it has made on the book industry, particularly independents. HOWEVER. I am a student. I need cheap books, and fast. So I use it, but I do cringe a little every time.

  • You can’t read books on the job

In a bookstore, there is always something to do. Something will always be mis-shelved, books will always need to be labelled, and orders will always need to be made. I’ve never had time to read on the job!

  • There is no snacking on the shop floor (you will inevitably snack on the shop floor)

However, despite the fact that we’re always busy, booksellers find the time to joke about and generally have a good time. (The number of times I’ve had alcohol on the job really shouldn’t be mentioned…!) Between snacks in the back room, singing, talking a bit too loudly about books, and generally having a blast, most shifts go by very quickly indeed.

Just a note – this is from my personal experience. I’ve never worked in a big chain bookstore like Waterstones or Barnes & Noble, and I imagine thereย are some differences. Have you ever worked as a bookseller? Share your amazing/wacky experiences!


9 thoughts on “the truth about being a bookseller

  1. Read Diverse Books says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Wendy! Loved getting to know you a little better.
    It makes sense that making money/profit will be difficult with so many books around you at all times. I have a hard time controlling myself when I VISIT a bookstore. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I worked at one! lol
    I’m always a quick, quiet, and loyal bookstore customer. Aka an angel. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Life of a Female Bibliophile says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ve worked in retail but never in a bookstore before. I recently started working in a library and contrary to what my family and friends think, I do not get to sit at a desk and read all day. But I am surrounded by some amazing books all day and working there saves me the trouble of buying new releases. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think everyone feels a bit guilty about using amazon and I agree with you about the customers part too.


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