If you’ve ever wondered what the glamorous life of owning and running a musty, secondhand bookshop is like, The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is the kind of book you need to read straightaway. Featuring a non-fictional daily account of Bythell’s life as a secondhand bookshop owner in Scotland, the book is insightful, funny, unapologetic and, if you are a lover of actual books (not just the stories written in them) it will make you want to head out to the nearest physical bookstore in your area so you can support your local bookseller. After all, despite the convenience of online shopping, I for one love the experience of walking down actual book aisles, picking up books, opening the cover (if it’s not plastic wrapped as many so often are these days) and reading the first few paragraphs to decide if it is something I want to take home with me.
Through the pages of this book I’ve come across books and authors I’ve heard of, those who I haven’t and am curious to check out – if I can remember who they are. And of The Folio Society, which I really want to get my hands on as I am curious to see the combination of illustration and existing books, and apparently they are stunning. They’ve designed one for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods – perhaps I’ll start there. Or maybe Douglas Adams.
But The Diary of a Bookseller isn’t just about books. It’s really about the people who come into the store. Those who buy, those who just browse, those who are really only there so they can use the loo – the shop doesn’t have one that’s open to the public by the way. And the daily till count is one I can’t help but monitor and cheer on whenever they have a good day. As a small business seller, I feel their pain, and completely understand that if we want these shops to continue to exist, we need to go out and support them.
I hope that if I ever get near where -’s bookshop is, I’ll be able to pop-in and leave with a book or two. I hope they’ll still be around then. And hey, if Bythell writes volume 2 or 3 or 10 of his daily stories (he absolutely should), maybe I’ll even make an appearance.