The Diary of a bookseller by Shaun Bythell

I had such fun reading this delightful and witty book.  Shaun Bythell runs The Book Shop in Wigtown, a small rural town on Scotland’s west coast, which is also Scotland’s National Book Town.

The book is written in a diary like format that makes it incredibly readable and enjoyable. Each day starts with a summary of the number of the books ordered online and are found in the store and it ends with the total number of customers and the till summary at the end of the day. In between, he describes his day at work and the peculiarities of his trade. It is an interesting insight into the  current climate  of bookselling, the challenges on running a small independent bookshop today and how the booksellers  have to adapt their business mode in order to survive the cut-throat competition from Amazon and e-books. The basic idea is that you have to love what you do. You are not going to run a second-hand bookshop for the riches.

There is an Amazon Kindle shot by Shaun Bythell, in the bookshop, like a trophy display.  The plaque reads “Amazon Kindle. Shot by Shaun Bythell. 22nd August 2014, Near Newton Stewart.” (photo on the book)

 

I particularly enjoyed the Bythell’s sharp humour, the sarcasm to describe the various  characters, his bohemian lifestyle, his passion about books and reading, and his defiance against authority. And I  couldn’t  stop laugh-out-loud with Shaun’s  hilarious views on the ridiculous requests made by customers visiting his bookshop. It is so refreshing!

“Often, even if you’ve told customers that you do not have a copy of the book they are looking for in stock, they will insist on telling you at great length and in tedious detail why there are looking for that particular title. A few possible explanations for this have occured to me, but the one by which I am most convinced is that it is an exercise in intellectual masturbation. They want you to know that this is a subject about which they are informed, and even is they are wrong about whatever they’ve chosen to pontificate on, they drone on – normally at a volume calculated to reach not only the cornered bookseller but everyone in the vicinity too.”