So, What Was It Like To Work In A Bookshop?

So, What Was It Like To Work In A Bookshop?

At the end of 2019 I got to tick off a teenage dream of mine – I got to work in a bookshop. Yes! Almost 10 years after my work experience in the local bookshop I was offered a 6 week contract over the festive period – woo! So, did it live up to my expectations? What was it like to work over Christmas? Keep reading and all will be revealed…

Being surrounded by books all day every day was wonderful and dangerous.

I spent a fair amount of the money that I earned in the shop on more books. I also go ARCs and trades from other booksellers. Ali wasn’t best pleased that I’m now in need of another bookshelf but he knew who he was moving in with!

Also my mental ‘to buy’ list is even longer.

Regular customers are the best

The absolute best and generally really nice people who loved recommendations, which leads me on to my next point…

Giving recommendations was so much fun

Probably my favourite part of the day, which I got to do a lot. I particularly liked the challenge of someone who had read a lot. I even managed to get a few people to pick up YA books who wouldn’t normally.

Kids still read – a lot

And I love it. One of the departments I helped most with was Kids and Young Adult. So many people say that kids don’t read and I’m here to tell you that they really, really do!

As with anything there are readers and people who prefer other things. There was nothing that warmed my heart more than a kid telling me about their favourite books and what they liked. I also loved the challenge of trying to find books for people who ‘don’t really read’.

Sometimes you will get asked baffling questions or comments and you question the majority of the human race

I once had a friend who was asked if they sold sports equipment…in a bookshop. I also had a lot of people telling me their conspiracy theories about Greta Thunberg. Trying not to react was the haaaaardest thing. So hard.

The people you work with make or break the job

I’ve worked in retail before, from the age of 16 up until I was 19 I had some retail jobs and I didn’t really enjoy them. Some of them I’d go as far as to say I couldn’t stand BUT this was completely different.

As I write this I still talk to a lot of the team, I go in regularly and they all know I miss them like mad. They’re an incredible team of people and I’m pleased that they’re still my friends who I can go and bug and they can’t escape haha!

There are parts of your feet that you don’t know exist until they are throbbing in pain

Oh my goodness my feet. Shout out to Sketchers because before I started wearing them (thanks Nanna!) I was in horrific pain with not just my feet but my ankles and my knees because of Hypermobility.

Even after I started wearing them I would come home at nice and my feet would throb. There were a lot of baths, a lot of painkillers and a lot of wincing.

People can be arseholes for no reason

Most of the customers we had were lovely people, then you got some who treated you like you were stupid or were just generally unpleasant. I had someone shout at me because they hadn’t found the book they wanted and I was daring to go home (literally had my coat on and was getting a lift home). I had another person throw a tantrum because they ordered something too late. Some people were just rude because…people.

It’s a physically tough job

I have so much respect for my friends who work in the shop who do it say in day out. Anyone in retail actually. Physically it’s an incredibly demanding job, mentally it can be too and a lot of people in retail do a lot of work for not a lot of pay.

Would I recommend it?

Mostly, yes I loved my time there. I do think that, in general the people in the store every could and should be treated with more respect because they literally keep the business going! They’re also human which is forgotten.

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