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Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.


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Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

30 review for The Diary of a Bookseller

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Call me crazy but I've always wondered when I die what will happen to all my books. My house is overflowing with them. Nobody else reads them but me. The Diary of a bookseller made me think I'm not so crazy after all. It appears there are way more crazier people in the world. It also appears most of them frequent this book shop. The funny stories abound with a daily summary of a day in the life of a bookseller in Scotland's largest 2nd hand book shop in the charming little village of Wigtown whe Call me crazy but I've always wondered when I die what will happen to all my books. My house is overflowing with them. Nobody else reads them but me. The Diary of a bookseller made me think I'm not so crazy after all. It appears there are way more crazier people in the world. It also appears most of them frequent this book shop. The funny stories abound with a daily summary of a day in the life of a bookseller in Scotland's largest 2nd hand book shop in the charming little village of Wigtown where not much else happens there except it's like a little Mecca for book lovers, a place where all manner of people come and go. Some buyers but mostly browsers which irritates Shaun the owner of the book shop to no end. He doesn't hold back on the snide commentary which makes for a lot of laughs! The customers are an odd assortment of characters, most are misers or non buyers, a few regulars and a smattering of real serious book buyers and collectors. Also some of the interactions with his regular staff are hilarious, some are clearly purposely intentionally incompetent much to Shaun's bemusement, he's a very tolerant man but secretly I think he enjoys every bit of their open contempt. I loved the outings where he goes to source books, most coming from deceased estates never knowing what kind of treasure or in most cases useless rubbish he will find. I found this book such a gem. My dream has always been to work in a bookshop and although my views are slightly tainted with the realities depicted here I am still utterly envious of the part time staffers that get to have the best job in the world in my opinion. Too bad the book industry is a dying commodity. I feel bad as I'm one of those people who do buy online (reading this from my kindle I'm sensing the irony) but I also regularly buy 2nd hand books whenever possible and it always gives me an absolute thrill surrounding myself in a world of books and I for one cannot leave without buying a book! I perish the thought of walking out without at least an armful of books. I think that makes me a true bookish person unlike those book poser imposters! *shudders* This book won't please everyone it could prove tedious for some but for me I sure am going to be sad to leave this book, the people, the town and this bookshop. I've never wanted to visit Scotland before but now I feel almost compelled to, I feel such an affinity for this book loving town and I'm so glad places like this still exist! Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my early review copy!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    These are the experiences of Shaun Bythell, a bookseller in Wigtown in beautiful Scotland, in diary format. The working days, the interesting customers (problematic or not), the co-workers, the struggle to support a second-hand bookshop (the second largest in the country) in the era of technology, everything that makes bookselling such a fascinating and exhausting profession is included in this book. Despite the positive reviews and my high expectations, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy reading These are the experiences of Shaun Bythell, a bookseller in Wigtown in beautiful Scotland, in diary format. The working days, the interesting customers (problematic or not), the co-workers, the struggle to support a second-hand bookshop (the second largest in the country) in the era of technology, everything that makes bookselling such a fascinating and exhausting profession is included in this book. Despite the positive reviews and my high expectations, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy reading this at all…. There were two things that won me over and kept me going. The experiences of the author- sometimes, they proved to be real adventures- while trying to find the most appropriate books for his shop and the stories of the people linked to them. Their deceased owners and the ones that stayed behind and had to part with the books. Some of them. The rest were cruel monsters but anyway. Another interesting part is the connection of the bookshop world with Amazon and the importance of the online market in general. It was sad to learn how a mere rating in a dubious platform could influence your overall effort despite all your hard effort. In our digitalized, fast-food era, online purchases are vital for the survival of any shop. It further cemented my conviction not to support Amazon, a stance I’ve been supporting for years. On a lighter note, there were certain titles that were absolutely hilarious. Not one to judge but it definitely makes you wonder why people sometimes choose specific books. Do they buy them for the sake of research or have they organised their priorities wrong? These were the most amusing features of the book, in my opinion. Unfortunately, here end my positive thoughts regarding The Diary of a Bookseller. Apart from the content, I always pay attention to the overall tone, the ‘’voice’’ of the writer, especially when it comes to Non-Fiction and in this case, there were quite a few moments that made me contemplate whether to stop reading altogether. Forgive me for saying this, but there is a fine line between sarcasm and rudeness and, in my opinion, Bythell crossed it. He didn’t strike me as the most sympathetic person on the planet. I’m not referring to his behaviour towards the customers (although it was definitely questionable at times) but to his overall thoughts and assumptions. Perhaps it is a matter of cultural difference but certain parts left a sour taste in my mouth. Needless to say, the majority of the customers mentioned in the entries were excruciatingly ignorant so these were the only moments when I felt that his responses could be justified. Furthermore, I found his posh, high-brow attitude towards Fiction rather unfair and, in all honesty, tiresome and absurd. His comments over ‘’large’’ (as he calls them) customers sounded problematic as did his observations over ‘’female’’ customers. And truthfully, repetition over Amazon statuses or problems he had been facing with an employee day after day made this an extremely mundane read. Perhaps the most interesting feature was the inclusion of George Orwell’s quotes on books, readers and bookselling at the beginning of each chapter. I can see why many readers would enjoy The Diary of a Bookseller but the writing failed to engage me and gave me quite a few problematic moments. Therefore, I cannot possibly rate this with more than 2 stars (not that it matters, obviously) and naturally, it can’t hold a candle to Jen Campbell’s The Bookshop Book. Many thanks to Melville House Publishing and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I am always a sucker for books about books so I knew I had to read this as soon as I saw the title and the cover. So glad I did! The bookseller of the title is the author himself, Shaun Bythell. He lives in Wigtown, Scotland where this beautiful bookshop actually exists. How I would love to go and see it! Shaun has a rather snarky sense of humour which had me laughing out loud. I also found myself doing that totally annoying thing of reading bits out loud to anyone who happened to be nearby at th I am always a sucker for books about books so I knew I had to read this as soon as I saw the title and the cover. So glad I did! The bookseller of the title is the author himself, Shaun Bythell. He lives in Wigtown, Scotland where this beautiful bookshop actually exists. How I would love to go and see it! Shaun has a rather snarky sense of humour which had me laughing out loud. I also found myself doing that totally annoying thing of reading bits out loud to anyone who happened to be nearby at the time. They usually laughed too so I think we can accept it is a funny book. I enjoyed the diary format with sometimes less than half a page for a day. It made it very hard to stop at any point with a constant mental urge to read "just one more." Of course, being set in a village in Scotland, there had to be quirky characters and there are indeed plenty. Nicky was particularly entertaining although probably more so on paper than if you had to actually live with her. Oh and there is a cat too. All good bookshops should have a resident cat. And comfy armchairs in front of a roaring log fire. Bliss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    One of the best books I’ve read so far this year! This is a book for all book lovers or people who secretly wish to work in a bookstore. Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, and with this book he shares his diary from 2014 in which he writes about everything going on in the store as well as in Wigtown. I had to get used to his tone of voice which is very pessimistic and abrupt - but in a funny way I grew to find this tone of voice hilarious and endearing, and after all, Shaun By One of the best books I’ve read so far this year! This is a book for all book lovers or people who secretly wish to work in a bookstore. Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, and with this book he shares his diary from 2014 in which he writes about everything going on in the store as well as in Wigtown. I had to get used to his tone of voice which is very pessimistic and abrupt - but in a funny way I grew to find this tone of voice hilarious and endearing, and after all, Shaun Bythell is not wrong in a lot of the things he says. I loved this book! It’s as simple as that. It made me feel cozy, it enlightened me on the hardships of owning a bookstore, and it desperately made me want to go to Wigtown and visit The Bookshop.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A reread. In April I finally made it to Wigtown, the Book Town of Scotland, and The Bookshop [for the life of me I cannot determine whether it should be The Bookshop or The Book Shop; the name on the website/Facebook page is different from the storefront!], a wonderfully rambling place with lots of nooks and crannies housing all sorts of categories. (Look out for the shot and mounted Kindle, the Festival bed, the stuffed badger, and the scroll of bookseller’s rules.) Luckily, on our visit we fou A reread. In April I finally made it to Wigtown, the Book Town of Scotland, and The Bookshop [for the life of me I cannot determine whether it should be The Bookshop or The Book Shop; the name on the website/Facebook page is different from the storefront!], a wonderfully rambling place with lots of nooks and crannies housing all sorts of categories. (Look out for the shot and mounted Kindle, the Festival bed, the stuffed badger, and the scroll of bookseller’s rules.) Luckily, on our visit we found £35 worth of books we wanted to buy, and had a nice chat with Bythell himself at the till. He signed my book, commiserated with us about the rainy weather and our flat tire, and gave us tips for what to see locally. You’d hardly believe that he’s the same curmudgeon who wrote the book – which makes one wonder to what extent the narrative voice is a put-on persona. I can believe that Bythell gets irate and sarcastic about bad customer behavior, but in person he struck me as easygoing and happy in his work. I started rereading the book soon after we got back (you can read my full trip write-up on my blog), and kept it as a bedside tome for months, finally finishing it about a year after its initial release. It’s now out in the USA and Australia, too, and it’s been great to see it getting more widespread attention. Alas, on a second read the everyday life of the shop felt more tedious to me, and though I could now picture the locales and some of the people described (which is why I thought a reread would be rewarding), that somehow wasn’t enough to counteract the monotony. This time around it was a 3-star read, so it averages out to a 3.5-star book for me. I’d recommend that those picking this up for the first time keep it around as a bedside/coffee table book and only read an entry or two at a time, or skim it for entries that interest them. Original review: So you think you’d like to run a bookshop? Here’s a book to tempt and deter you in equal measure. In 2001 Shaun Bythell acquired The Bookshop, the flagship bookstore in Wigtown, the Book Town in Galloway in the southwest of Scotland. Here he gives a one-year snapshot of life at the shop, from February 2014 to February 2015. At the start you can feel the winter chill in the old granite building, and as months pass you sense mounting excitement at preparations for the annual Book Festival (going on now) and the Scottish referendum. It’s a pleasure to spend a vicarious year at the shop. This would make a great bedside book for a bookish type to parcel out 5–10 pages at a time (another Christmas gift idea?). Bythell frequently ventures out to buy book collections in auctions and from estates, and occasionally goes fishing with his father or friends. But mostly we see what daily life is like for a bookshop owner. He can’t afford full-time staff, so gets sporadic help from university-age gals; his most “reliable” part-timer is Nicky, a ski suit-wearing, Dumpster-diving Jehovah’s Witness who blithely ignores much of what he asks her to do. Every entry opens and closes with statistics on the day’s takings and online orders. Profits range from £5 to £500 a day, rising in the summer and peaking around £1200 during the festival. Also listed is the number of customers who make purchases, which represents only one-fifth of daily footfall. Nowadays most bookstores sell online too, and The Bookshop reluctantly partners with Amazon as a marketplace seller. There’s also ABE and eBay; as a last-ditch option, some outfits take books in bulk, even if just to recycle them. Alongside online sales, it’s essential for bookstores to have sidelines. Bythell does video production and sells furniture, antiques and walking sticks carved by “Sandy, the tattooed pagan.” As with Wendy Welch’s The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, I enjoyed the nitty-gritty details about acquiring and pricing books, especially the serendipitous moments of coming across real treasures, like a book signed by Sir Walter Scott and a 1679 edition of the Decameron with an interesting provenance. The book is also full of quirky customer behavior, the kind of stuff that fills The Bookshop’s Facebook feed. Bythell cultivates a curmudgeonly persona – he once shot a broken Kindle and mounted it on the bookshop wall – and maintains a tone that’s somewhere between George Orwell (excerpts from whose “Bookshop Memories” serve as monthly epigraphs) and Jen Campbell (Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops et al.). Here’s a few of the best encounters: a whistling customer with a ponytail and what I can only assume was a hat he’d borrowed from a clown bought a copy of Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist, I suspect deliberately to undermine my faith in humanity and dampen my spirits further. A man smelling of TCP [antiseptic] was the only customer in the shop for the first hour of opening, during which time I attempted to put out fresh stock. He had an uncanny ability to be standing in front of every shelf to which I needed access, regardless of the subject or where in the shop the relevant shelves were. While I was repairing a broken shelf in the crime section, I overheard an elderly customer confusing E. L. James and M. R. James while discussing horror fiction with her friend. She is either going to be pleasantly surprised or deeply shocked when she gets home with the copy of Fifty Shades of Grey she bought. I’ve been to Hay-on-Wye six times now but haven’t made it to Wigtown yet. It’s high on my bookish wish list. I had two additional reasons for wanting to read this particular book: I’d read Three Things You Need to Know about Rockets, a memoir by Bythell’s former partner, the American Jessica Fox (here known as “Anna”; in her book he’s “Ewan”), about coming to Scotland on a whim and falling in love with a bookshop owner; and I’m awfully fond of The Bookshop Band, a folky husband–wife musical duo who this year relocated from Bath to Wigtown. It was such fun to read about their first time playing in Wigtown and their stay as the inaugural guests/temporary store managers via The Open Book Airbnb project. I’ve written that the bookseller’s life is both appealing and daunting. When Bythell is lugging heavy boxes from a house clearance into his van and sorting through them only to find he’s acquired mostly rubbish, or when he comes across a browser who’s brazenly looking up books on Amazon on her laptop to see if she can get them cheaper, you wonder who’d do this for a living. But then there are times when he’s sitting by the fire with an excellent book recommended by a customer, or the town is bustling with festival events, or he’s watching spring come to rural Scotland, and you think: what could be better? In one of his last entries Bythell writes, “whatever is required to keep the ship afloat will be done. This life is infinitely preferable to working for someone else.” I wish him well, and hope to visit soon. The Bookshop trivia: December is by far the quietest month. (“The few people who give second-hand books as gifts for Christmas are usually eccentric” – count me as one of them!) Railway books sell best. Terry Pratchett, John Buchan, P.G. Wodehouse and E.F. Benson books are also perennial best sellers. You’ll be amazed at how many customers try to haggle over prices. It’s a shop, not a rummage sale, for goodness’ sake! I can’t imagine ever having the cheek to offer less than the advertised price. Originally published, with images and links, on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sean Gibson

    There are a few professions that you know going in are never going to lead to you having eff you money. Teacher, public defender, librarian, fashion designer for one-legged armadillos…all of these are things you have to absolutely love if you’re going to make them your life’s work. You can add secondhand bookseller to that list. Enter Shaun Bythell, owner and proprietor of The Bookship in Wigtown (Scotland’s largest secondhand bookstore), who willingly accepts the economic challenges of owning a There are a few professions that you know going in are never going to lead to you having eff you money. Teacher, public defender, librarian, fashion designer for one-legged armadillos…all of these are things you have to absolutely love if you’re going to make them your life’s work. You can add secondhand bookseller to that list. Enter Shaun Bythell, owner and proprietor of The Bookship in Wigtown (Scotland’s largest secondhand bookstore), who willingly accepts the economic challenges of owning a used bookshop, a challenge exacerbated by the shop’s location in a relatively unknown region of Scotland, in exchange for the freedom to be his own boss and respond to the occasionally stupid customer with just the right level of subtle snark. Presented in the form of daily entries over the course of a year, Bythell’s diary details the humdrum minutiae of life in his shop (which doubles as his home)—the challenge of finding and fulfilling online orders in a store that features more than 100,000 books, some of which are categorized using no logic whatsoever by one of the shop assistants; the daily flow of sales and foot traffic, which can sometimes be depressingly small; the year-round activities of the sleepy town of Wigtown, which rouses itself mightily for an annual book festival; social media efforts to promote the store, including some fairly comical video endeavors; the thrill—and frequent disappointment—of acquiring books; passing details of Bythell’s romantic relationship with a writer; and a breakdown of the quirky characters, both shop helpers and regular clients and friends, who populate Bythell’s life. At the beginning of each month, he makes some broader observations about the business, literature, and life in general. The entries can become repetitive, but book lovers will eat it up, and the shop’s eccentric (and sometimes epically stupid) customers, in combination with Bythell’s drier-than-wine-squeezed-from-the-President’s-grapes* sense of humor, give it a broader appeal. As a former register jockey in an (long since closed) independent bookstore, I’ve had a tiny taste of the very weird fruits of Bythell’s world, and it was both comforting and depressing to spend a year looking over his shoulder. Comforting to know that somewhere out there, someone is still fighting the good fight to make beautiful physical books available (even going so far as to literally shoot and mount Kindles in his store as a warning to would-be partakers** of digital literature), and doing it with a sense of humor; depressing to contemplate, as Bythell himself does, that he’s a member of a dying breed, and that it’s not unlikely that there will eventually come a day when a place like the Bookshop simply ceases to exist. If I can get annoyingly contemplative for a moment, it is, on the whole, probably a good thing that, at some point (albeit a more distant point in the future than we all originally thought), physical books will be relics of the past—why destroy trees and create more and more environmental pollutants to create and ship books around the world when the same content can be delivered to you instantly on a slick device that enables you to read one-handed in the dark (such as, for example, when you’re soothing colicky infants, and you’re able to increase your reading threefold as a result because THEY NEVER EVER SLEEP (though I’m over that, I promise))? Still, like all of you other bibliophiles, I love the feel of a book in my hand, and the wonder and magic of walking into a bookstore—a place filled with seemingly infinite information and adventures—has never diminished. Then again, I get nostalgic for Meat Loaf albums, Saved by the Bell, and Trapper Keepers, so what do I know? *I’m sorry; that’s not an image that should live in anyone’s head. But, it’s living in mine, so you WILL SHARE MY MISERY AND YOU WILL LIKE IT! **Shame-faced confession: I read this on a Kindle. Because I often read it at night while putting kids to bed. But after I finished, I ordered a hard copy! And from The Bookshop, no less. And Bythell signed it, too. So suck on that.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This book is going straight onto my shelf of all time favourites. I really enjoyed reading Shaun Bythell's diary of the trials, tribulations and occasional triumphs of being a bookseller. In 2001, after having difficulty settling on a career he enjoyed, Shaun bought The Book Shop in his home town of Wigtown, in the Galloway region of Scotland. Some years later he started a diary and a facebook site to record the interactions with his customers, but over the months it developed into so much more This book is going straight onto my shelf of all time favourites. I really enjoyed reading Shaun Bythell's diary of the trials, tribulations and occasional triumphs of being a bookseller. In 2001, after having difficulty settling on a career he enjoyed, Shaun bought The Book Shop in his home town of Wigtown, in the Galloway region of Scotland. Some years later he started a diary and a facebook site to record the interactions with his customers, but over the months it developed into so much more - a record of the changing seasons and the happenings in the town, as well as a record of the selling and buying of books, dealing with Amazon and his quirky part time employee Nicky. Following closure of its main industries, a distillery and a creamery, Wigtown launched a plan in 1998 to rejuvenate itself as a Book Town like the well known popular Welsh village Hay-on-Wye and is now a popular tourist destination with a successful annual Book Festival. The Book Shop is now the second largest second hand book store in Scotland with over 100,000 books. It sounds wonderful with rooms and rooms full of books, an open fire and comfortable armchairs, and odd antiques that Shaun picks up at auctions. There is even a 'festival bed' on a mezzanine that can be booked for the festival and often used by overnight guests who stay too late or drink too much to go home. This is a fascinating book to read if you're interested in becoming a bookseller. There are all sorts of customers, the regulars, the hagglers, the ones who spend hours in the shop pulling books off the shelf and not buying. Then there is the business of buying books from auctions and deceased estates, having to get rid of the unselleable portions but also occassionally finding a gem like a rare first edition or a book signed by Florence Nightingale. There are also the trials of on-line selling and dealing with Amazon (who now seem to own everything). The compensations for Shaun are living in a beautiful part of the world, enjoying the fishing, boating and rock climbing in the quiet times with someone else minding the shop. Shaun also knows many interesting people and his involvement in organising the annual festival allows him to meet many authors and writers so there are many evenings of social company and entertainment. Shaun's one time employee Nicky also provided him with hours of amusement (as well as annoyance because she had her own ideas of how to run the shop). There are some priceless videos on youtube of Nicky (in the black ski-suit that she wore to work all winter) showing the results of her bin foraging outside the supermarket, judging the anonymous postcard competition, explaining to Shaun what happened to his creme eggs and also of Shaun and Nicky in a Book Shop rap. Shaun's video series of Kindle Tutorials on how to deal with broken kindles is also hilarious and sums up his thoughts on Amazon (there's a great photo in the book of the 'fixed kindle' from one of his tutorials). I also enjoyed Shaun discussing the books he's reading and the George Orwell quotes at the start of each month of the diary. Recommended for all those who think it would be cool to have a bookshop and for the rest of us who enjoy reading and reading about what other people are reading. ***************************************** The passages I'd love to quote here are too numerous, so here is just one from the start of Shaun's diary: "There is a stereotype of the impatient, intolerant, antisocial proprietor - played so perfectly by Dylan Moran in Black Books - and it seems (on the whole) to be true. There are exceptions of course, and many booksellers do not conform to this type. Sadly I do."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    The Diary of a Bookseller is the first person account of Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop, a large second hand bookstore in Scotland. Over the course of the year 2014, Bythell keeps a diary of daily encounters from the shop. Some days are better than others. Irritating customers are a given. Bythell has a consistent dry sarcasm, and the details of the shop’s daily happenings are amusing. “Any bookseller will tell you that, even with 100,000 books neatly sorted and shelved in a well-lit, warm The Diary of a Bookseller is the first person account of Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop, a large second hand bookstore in Scotland. Over the course of the year 2014, Bythell keeps a diary of daily encounters from the shop. Some days are better than others. Irritating customers are a given. Bythell has a consistent dry sarcasm, and the details of the shop’s daily happenings are amusing. “Any bookseller will tell you that, even with 100,000 books neatly sorted and shelved in a well-lit, warm shop, if you put an unopened box of books in a dark, cold, dimly lit corner, customers will be rifling through it in a matter of moments. The appeal of a box of unsorted, unpriced stock is extraordinary. Obviously the idea of finding a bargain is part of it, but I suspect it goes well beyond that and has parallels with opening gifts. The excitement of the unknown is what it’s all about, and it’s something to which I can relate–buying books is exactly that...” The Diary of a Bookseller was an entertaining, light and enjoyable read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Constantine

    Rating: 3.5/5.0 Genre: Nonfiction + Memoir Shaun Bythell tells us about his experience after buying this big second-hand bookshop in Wigtown which is considered the second-largest bookshop there, the challenges he faced to keep it up and running in our era in which technology has advanced a lot where there are other forms of reading other than buying physical books. The book is written as the title suggests, in a diary format. The diary has daily entries for about a year. It tells the reader what i Rating: 3.5/5.0 Genre: Nonfiction + Memoir Shaun Bythell tells us about his experience after buying this big second-hand bookshop in Wigtown which is considered the second-largest bookshop there, the challenges he faced to keep it up and running in our era in which technology has advanced a lot where there are other forms of reading other than buying physical books. The book is written as the title suggests, in a diary format. The diary has daily entries for about a year. It tells the reader what is in and what is out. Many times it showed how challenging it becomes to satisfy customers and meet their expectations especially when it comes to dealing with shipping the books in time to the customers or else one has to deal with the annoying back and forth emails and calls to track the shipment. Another thing is the owner's encounters with some interesting customers. This was a satisfying read to me. I can't say that it was too enjoyable though. The diary entries after some time have become repetitive to me. They sounded more like bookkeeping of what is in and what is out. Honestly, I can't say what I was expecting from this book because the premise interested me, but I have picked it up without any expectations. So my advice to you is to keep your expectations low too so you would not be disappointed. Overall, this was an interesting read for me. Not a perfect one but definitely not regretting that I have read it. I give The Diary of a Bookseller a good 3.5 stars out of 5.0.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nat K

    ”Of course, one person’s good book is another person’s bad book; the matter is entirely subjective.” For me, this book is quirky (with a capital “Q”). The story meanders along, a bit like life really. Mostly routine and humdrum, with little flecks of highlights and happiness. A journal of sorts, of the trials and tribulations of a bookseller, and in a second hand bookstore at that. Not a lot happens, but there are little gems that had me laughing out loud such as… ”An elderly customer told me that ”Of course, one person’s good book is another person’s bad book; the matter is entirely subjective.” For me, this book is quirky (with a capital “Q”). The story meanders along, a bit like life really. Mostly routine and humdrum, with little flecks of highlights and happiness. A journal of sorts, of the trials and tribulations of a bookseller, and in a second hand bookstore at that. Not a lot happens, but there are little gems that had me laughing out loud such as… ”An elderly customer told me that her book club’s next book was Dracula, but she couldn’t remember what he’d written." I enjoyed the quirky characters. Shaun, the owner of the bookstore. A bit prickly, posting barbed comments on Facebook about his customers (too funny), but who deep down seems quite sensitive, behind the detached exterior. Nicky (who works in the bookstore); a free spirit who drives an old combi van and loves hunting for food via what’s been thrown out from the local supermarket’s skip (“Foodie Fridays”, what delights will be brought in…). Sandy (the pagan), who brings in hand carved walking sticks, in exchange for books on Celtic mythology. The regular customers such a retired solicitor Mr Deacon (never shall we find out his first name), who orders books on a weekly basis, when he can quite easily buy them online, to the browsers who spend hours reading in front of the fireplace, only to leave without buying a single item. I can well imagine the kaleidoscope of personalities meeting in the melting pot of this bookstore. There were also many very sad and poignant parts of the story where Shaun goes to purchase books (sometimes entire collections) from estates. I find it bittersweet where he described that books that are left behind often capture that essence of a person. That left a lump in my throat. This is definitely a place that I would love to visit if I was ever to visit Wigtown, Scotland. It would be an absolute treat.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    What a depressing book! Bythell manages to make one of my favorite destinations, a used bookstore, feel like an unwelcoming hellhole. The book is a gloomy, lazily written diary of his daily transactions peppered with snarky, mean-spirited comments about his customers. There is very little in this book about reading or even books - except as crumbling objects to buy and sell.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Crane

    I SO enjoyed this book! It's well written, funny and the diary format is great for those who love books and reading but lead busy lives. I'm very envious of Shaun Bythells idyllic life in his wonderful bookish world in the wilds of Scotland. Is this a 'one off' or will there be more installments, I suspect there's plenty of material to fill a few more if Shaun has the time and inclination? I SO enjoyed this book! It's well written, funny and the diary format is great for those who love books and reading but lead busy lives. I'm very envious of Shaun Bythells idyllic life in his wonderful bookish world in the wilds of Scotland. Is this a 'one off' or will there be more installments, I suspect there's plenty of material to fill a few more if Shaun has the time and inclination?

  13. 4 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    Books excite me, but reading a book about a bookshop, excites me just that little bit more. I haven't came across many books in this kind of genre, so I really made the most of this one. The book shop, is ran by Shaun Bythell, and is located in Wigtown, Scotland. It is a seemingly successful second-hand book shop, and this book contains the diary of Bythell, which he kept for a year, and has all the events of each day recorded in it. Now, I use Amazon for books very often, and it is due to Amazo Books excite me, but reading a book about a bookshop, excites me just that little bit more. I haven't came across many books in this kind of genre, so I really made the most of this one. The book shop, is ran by Shaun Bythell, and is located in Wigtown, Scotland. It is a seemingly successful second-hand book shop, and this book contains the diary of Bythell, which he kept for a year, and has all the events of each day recorded in it. Now, I use Amazon for books very often, and it is due to Amazon, that unfortunately, many second-hand bookstores either struggle, or have gone out of business completely. I for one love mooching around a bookshop, I find it so enthralling but also comforting at the same time. It is a great shame that we don't have as many bookshops around like we used to. We obviously can thank the Internet for this! This is clearly an individual who holds a genuine passion and appreciation for books, and seemingly puts up with a great amount of rudeness from his customers. What astounded me, is the way customers come in the shop, and attempt to haggle the price of the book! It's not a car boot sale, it is a successful business that Bythell has been running efficiently for over fifteen years! Being about to jump into thousands of books each day, rummage through them, and then actually make a living off that, is truly a piece of heaven, and for that, I'm quite envious of Bythell. I'm also happy that he took the time to give us an insight into his incredibly bookish life. Oh, and Mr Bythell? I'll be visiting later on this year!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Squeak2017

    It it not easy to write a book in the diary format without falling into the trap of repeating yourself. I got up, opened the shop, Nicky was late. How very often did those words recur. It takes a writer of considerably more skill and imagination to make a diary interesting. One who can offer nuggets of insight (perhaps in response to the books he was reading above the bald comment "I enjoyed it") or the odd piece of imagery. This book failed on those counts. It had the stock in trade ornery empl It it not easy to write a book in the diary format without falling into the trap of repeating yourself. I got up, opened the shop, Nicky was late. How very often did those words recur. It takes a writer of considerably more skill and imagination to make a diary interesting. One who can offer nuggets of insight (perhaps in response to the books he was reading above the bald comment "I enjoyed it") or the odd piece of imagery. This book failed on those counts. It had the stock in trade ornery employee, the obligatory grumpy bookseller (towards the end of the book, perhaps alerted by a reader or editor, there was a defensive paragraph about how he was only rude to customers and never to waitresses or shop assistants, but waitresses and shop assistants are not as downtrodden and unable to answer back as you may think - viz his own staff! - and some of the customers seemed tactless or inept rather than deliberately offensive. Mr. Deacon's dementia was there for all to see). The only entertaining elements were the Orwell quotes, the Facebook entries written by the maverick Nicky and a letter quoted from another bookseller. The sarcasm levelled at customers was not as hilarious as the publishers or the author seemed to think.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Shaun Blythell would be sore that I read his book on a Kindle but it was an eARC of the US edition, what could I do. I enjoyed his diary of a year of bookselling - the customers, the small book town in Scotland, little hints into what he is reading and thinking, and the looming enemy of Amazon. His sense of humor is part curmudgeon... hmm, no, it's all curmudgeon. It makes him read as much older than he is, but that could just be the Scottish-American disconnect. I love that Scotland has a town Shaun Blythell would be sore that I read his book on a Kindle but it was an eARC of the US edition, what could I do. I enjoyed his diary of a year of bookselling - the customers, the small book town in Scotland, little hints into what he is reading and thinking, and the looming enemy of Amazon. His sense of humor is part curmudgeon... hmm, no, it's all curmudgeon. It makes him read as much older than he is, but that could just be the Scottish-American disconnect. I love that Scotland has a town that has been deemed a book town! We need those.

  16. 5 out of 5

    JimZ

    This was a very good read. Shaun Bythell did a nice job of writing this book. It’s a year in the life of him running his second-hand bookstore in a small Scottish village called Wigtown. He buys books at estate sales or in people’s houses or in the store, and he sells books in the store and online (Amazon, Abebooks). Each chapter is a month of the year (starting on February 1, 2014 and ending on January 30, 2015) and within each month are diary entries with sundry facts such as what’s in the til This was a very good read. Shaun Bythell did a nice job of writing this book. It’s a year in the life of him running his second-hand bookstore in a small Scottish village called Wigtown. He buys books at estate sales or in people’s houses or in the store, and he sells books in the store and online (Amazon, Abebooks). Each chapter is a month of the year (starting on February 1, 2014 and ending on January 30, 2015) and within each month are diary entries with sundry facts such as what’s in the till at the end of the day and how many customers were in the store, and what books were sold, or what books he bought. And within each entry are the events that took place in his life for each day of the month. Sound boring? It’s not. This guy has a wry if not at times sardonic sense of humor…made me laugh out loud more than once. It was a very pleasant read where I got to know him, and his employees (Nicky is a real hoot), and learned about the customers who entered the store. I love used bookstores and so I would heartily recommend this book for those of you who also have such a love. For those of you who have not in the past or present frequented shops that sell used books, then this may not be all that interesting to you. There is also a recurring thread in the memoir about how Amazon has really hurt second-hand bookstores…and that’s shame because a number of quaint and charming stores with character and personality have vanished or will be vanishing. What price progress? 🙁 At the start of each chapter (month) is a series of sentences from George Orwell who wrote an essay in 1936 called “Bookshop Memories” in 1936. Selections he picked were humorous and/or witty . Such as: “In a town like London there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money.” Here is a link to the whole essay: https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-... Here are several passages that I bookmarked….hope you enjoy like I did! And these are not uncommon but rather the tip of the iceberg…he has many funny things to say as well as interesting things. I almost felt like I was in the bookstore (actually he had pictures of the bookstore and it was a prototypic charming second-hand bookstore with books and bookcases galore and the cat (every used bookstore worth its salt must have a cat! 😊 ). • …the immersive capacity of a good novel to transport you into a different world is unique to the written word.” (Jim: I love that observation because it is true…to be oblivious to the present situation and to be in the lives of the characters of a novel…it’s truly something, isn’t it?) • In November 2001, the month I bought the shop, an old man was browsing in the maritime history section of the shop. He came to the counter and asked, “When are you having the bonfire?” Puzzled, I asked him what he meant. He replied, “For your books. I have never seen such rubbish. All they’re good for is the bonfire.” This was my first encounter with a genuinely rude customer, and back then I was still racked with insecurities about the shop, the stock and what I was doing. Fortunately, another customer witnessed the incident and, sensing my discomfort, stepped in and said, “Actually, this is the best maritime history section I have ever seen in any bookshop. If you don’t like it you should probably leave.” He left. • In the afternoon, a customer spent about an hour wandering around the shop. He finally came to the counter and said “I never buy second-hand books. You don’t know who else has touched them, or where they’ve been.” Apart from being an irritating thing to say to a second-hand bookseller, who knows whose hands have touched the books in the shop? Doubtless everyone from ministers to murderers. For many that secret history of provenance is a source of excitement which fires their imagination. A friend and I once discussed annotations and marginalia in books. Again, they are a divisive issue. We occasionally have Amazon orders returned because the recipient has discovered notes in a book, scribbled by previous readers, which we had not spotted. To me these things do not detract but are captivating additions — a glimpse into the mind of another person who has read the same book. • A customer came to the counter and said, “I’ve looked under the W section of the fiction and I can’t find anything by Rider Haggard.” I suggested that he have a look under the H section. • An elderly customer told me that her book clubs next book was Dracula, but she couldn’t remember what he’d written. Reviews:https://www.theguardian.com/books/201... https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-en...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. One of my favourite comedies from the early '00's was Black Books, a comedy set in a second hand book shop and starring Dylan Moran as a misanthropic book seller who hates people and drinks copious amounts of wine. This is the book equivalent to that comedy, and I absolutely loved it. The book outlines a year in the life of Shaun Bythell, owner of The Book Shop, and his daily interactions with customers and excur I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. One of my favourite comedies from the early '00's was Black Books, a comedy set in a second hand book shop and starring Dylan Moran as a misanthropic book seller who hates people and drinks copious amounts of wine. This is the book equivalent to that comedy, and I absolutely loved it. The book outlines a year in the life of Shaun Bythell, owner of The Book Shop, and his daily interactions with customers and excursions to source books. It's never pretentious, and often very, very funny. I particularly warmed to shop assistant Nicky, who is basically described as a wombling Jehovah's Witness, who often turns up to her shifts in the book shop in an all in one black ski suit with an accompanying assortment of food found in the skip behind Morrisons. The daily struggle with customers was also very funny and informative - I gained a particular fondness for regular customer Mr Deacon, but ultimately reminded me that I never want another career in retail! The book serves as a great insight into the dying breed of booksellers, and provided a lot of information about books that I didn't know, such as books published before 1501 known as 'incunabula'. I liked the little excerpts from George Orwell which proceeded every month too, as they provided some cohesiveness to the structure of the book and made it feel less like a traditional diary. I think the only section I didn't enjoy was where the author got sidetracked talking about fishing for a few pages in August. Again, they only lasted a few pages, but they felt a little bit out of place. In all honesty, I think this is one of the best books I've read this year, and has had me heartily reminiscing about the old book shop that I use to frequent as a youngster. Now, unfortunately, it's been turned into a pub (!) but this book proves just how vulnerable and invaluable book shops are in our country since the rise of the ebook and major retailers. My only regret is that I read this on my kindle, but make no mistake, I'll be buying the hardback.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Really enjoyable, and I love the grumpy tone of the author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    This was an enjoyable read which made me laugh out loud now and again. I learned about managing an bookshop and from now on I will see them with different eyes. I might as well go on with his next book, Confessions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    “An elderly customer told me that her book club’s next book was Dracula, but she couldn’t remember what he’d written.” Imagine reading the work diary of someone whose job follows a regular pattern each day, doing the same general activities, and that’s basically what reading this book was like - with some humorous anecdotes thrown in! The Diary of a Bookseller is comprised of a year of diary entries from secondhand book shop owner, Shaun Bythell. And I have to admit, learning about how a secondhan “An elderly customer told me that her book club’s next book was Dracula, but she couldn’t remember what he’d written.” Imagine reading the work diary of someone whose job follows a regular pattern each day, doing the same general activities, and that’s basically what reading this book was like - with some humorous anecdotes thrown in! The Diary of a Bookseller is comprised of a year of diary entries from secondhand book shop owner, Shaun Bythell. And I have to admit, learning about how a secondhand book shop is actually run was very eye-opening to me, as it’s not really something I had considered before! Each day the amount of money made through sales is recorded and it was so interesting to see this change from day to day, season to season. Takings were abysmal for quite a few of the winter months, whereas foot traffic and sales would go way up in the summer and tourist months. Bythell does have a lot of hatred for amazon, which is understandable, but at times it just wore me down. Although I will say that I am now making even more of a conscious effort to not just buy my books there! Speaking of the bookseller himself, he was a large part of the reason why I didn’t enjoy this as much as I expected to. He just wasn’t very likeable to me. I have quite a dry wit myself, but often times I just found him to be kinda rude. Did not like. However, I gotta say that the short diary entries were a heaven-send as my focus was absolutely terrible the week I was reading this, so a diary format that I could I dip in and out of suited my attention span. It was an okay read, some of the anecdotes were funny as you see what an eclectic mix of customers he has, but I was ultimately a little disappointed! 2.5 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Book Readers are intelligent, knowledgeable, appreciate and support their local bookshop. And as you are reading this right now you would agree. But the people in this true tale are the exact opposite. As the title states this is a diary of each day in a bookseller's life. Combat trousers At noon a woman in combat trousers and a beret came to the counter with six books, including two nearly new, expensive art books in pristine condition. The total for the books came to £38; she asked for a discount, Book Readers are intelligent, knowledgeable, appreciate and support their local bookshop. And as you are reading this right now you would agree. But the people in this true tale are the exact opposite. As the title states this is a diary of each day in a bookseller's life. Combat trousers At noon a woman in combat trousers and a beret came to the counter with six books, including two nearly new, expensive art books in pristine condition. The total for the books came to £38; she asked for a discount, and when I told her that she could have them for £35, she replied, ‘Can’t you do them for £30?’ It weighs heavily upon my faith in human decency when customers – offered a discount on products that are already a fraction of their original cover price – feel entitled to demand almost 30 per cent further off, so I refused to discount them any further. She paid the £35. Janet Street-Porter’s suggestion that anyone wearing combat trousers should be forcibly parachuted into a demilitarised zone now has my full support. A well known singer Once, not long after I had bought the shop, a young man who was emigrating to Canada brought in several boxes of books to sell. When I asked him to sign the cashbook, he wrote ‘Tom Jones’. I laughed and pointed out a few other names that were clearly made up but that he was the first to use Tom Jones, to which he replied ‘It’s not unusual’ and left. Facebook One of the shop’s Facebook followers came in to buy books today. She and her boyfriend want to move here and I overheard her whispering ‘Don’t say anything stupid or he’ll post it on Facebook.’ I will write something mean about her later. When I set up the Facebook account for the shop four years ago, I had a look at other bookshops that had done the same. The content seemed almost universally bland and didn’t really convey the full horror or the exquisite joy of working in a bookshop, so I took a calculated risk and decided to focus on customer behaviour, particularly the stupid questions and the rude comments. It appears to have paid off, and those who follow the shop seem to become more delighted the more offensive I am about customers. I recently checked to see who is following me, and a significant number of bookshops are on the list. TripAdvisor On my sister’s advice, I checked TripAdvisor to see whether anyone had reviewed the shop. There were nine reviews, two of which made references to the quality of the food. We do not serve food. We have never served food. Two more complained that the shop ‘wasn’t as big’ as they had expected it to be. Inspired, I wrote a ridiculous review praising the owner’s magnificent good looks, convivial charm, captivatingly beautiful scent, the wonderful stock, the electric atmosphere and a litany of other unlikely superlatives. In no time at all it had been removed and TripAdvisor had sent a threatening email warning me not to do it again. I went straight back onto their site and wrote another one, and encouraged the shop’s Facebook followers to do the same. Florence Nightingale and a bottle of wine I bought ten boxes of books unseen from another dealer, a man called David McNaughton, who had been in the trade for nearly forty years. He wanted I bought ten boxes of books unseen from another dealer, a man called David McNaughton, who had been in the trade for nearly forty years. He wanted £10 a box and assured me that it was reasonable stock. From previous dealings with him I had no reason to doubt this. What I didn’t expect, though, was to find a book signed by Florence Nightingale, dedicated to one of her nurses. It was a Charles Kingsley title – I forget which. Florence Nightingale was fond of inscribing books and giving them to her friends, and consequently there are quite a few of these about, but it still made £300 on eBay. A nurse in Missouri bought it. I sent David a case of wine and told him what had happened. Book Lovers? Really bookish people are a rarity, although there are vast numbers of those who consider themselves to be such. The latter are particularly easy to identify – often they will introduce themselves when they enter the shop as ‘book people’ and insist on telling you that ‘we love books’. They’ll wear T-shirts or carry bags with slogans explaining exactly how much they think they adore books, but the surest means of identifying them is that they never, ever buy books. Australians and coins An Australian customer paid for a £1.50 book in small change but clearly had no idea what each coin was and took about five minutes to work it out. At one point he asked, ‘What do you use these 1p and 2p coins for?’ Good help is hard to find Nicky didn’t manage to list a single book over the weekend because, as her note says: ‘The printer wilnae work.’ I checked: she hadn’t switched it on. Death Wish Just as I was returning from the kitchen with my cup of tea, a customer with polyester trousers about six inches too short and a donkey jacket almost knocked it out of my hand and asked, ‘Have you ever had a death in here? Has anyone ever died falling off a stepladder in the shop?’ I told him, ‘Not yet, but I was hoping today might be my lucky day.’ These good people brightened up his day For the last hour of the day the shop was occupied by a family of six – mum, dad and four girls aged between six and sixteen. When the time came to pay for their books, the mother told me that they had all been out for a walk in the morning and the girls had been miserable, despite the sunny weather. She had asked why they were so unhappy and they replied in unison that all they wanted to do was visit The Book Shop as they hadn’t been here for two years and were really excited about returning. They spent £175 and left with six bags of books. These things happen far too rarely, but when they do they serve as a welcome reminder of why I chose to enter the world of bookselling, and of how important bookshops are to many people. A book with bite An elderly customer told me that her book club’s next book was Dracula, but she couldn’t remember what he’d written. The Odyssey and fishing As I was tidying the shelves in the garden room, I found a copy of The Odyssey in the fishing section. I have yet to question Nicky about this, but the answer will almost certainly be, ‘Aye, but they were on a boat for some of it. What do you think they ate? Aye. Fish. See?’ Appreciate the gentle humor as the Bookseller interacts with customers in search of a good book Enjoy!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Secor

    Shaun Bythell kept a one year diary covering his book shop - and also his life and the lives of some of those around him. It's a very entertaining read, though I wish that he had given more ink to some of the more pleasant experiences that probably occurred in his shop. (I'm sure that there must have been more than he related.) The more bizarre or annoying experiences made good reading, but more positive experiences would have made for a better balanced book. Mr. Bythell seems to be a bit of a c Shaun Bythell kept a one year diary covering his book shop - and also his life and the lives of some of those around him. It's a very entertaining read, though I wish that he had given more ink to some of the more pleasant experiences that probably occurred in his shop. (I'm sure that there must have been more than he related.) The more bizarre or annoying experiences made good reading, but more positive experiences would have made for a better balanced book. Mr. Bythell seems to be a bit of a curmudgeon, so perhaps that accounts for many of the episodes he included. I knew before I read this that I wouldn't want to own a bookstore - especially a used bookstore - but reading this book settled any notion of ever doing that completely. And if any potential bookstore owner reads this, they'll learn a quick lesson on hiring employees - don't follow Shaun Bythell's example. I believe that the only worthwhile employee he had during the year of the diary was a young woman who was foisted upon him by a friend, and who worked there for a very short time. His fulltime employee, Nicky, had one positive trait. She was pretty dependable about showing up for work. Beyond that, the best that could be said is that sometimes she was charmingly weird, but oftentimes just plain weird - no charm included. As far as being an employee or a co-worker, I wouldn't want her for either. Shaun Bythell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g2Kq... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGFlj... Nicky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsdxT... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77NSS... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d_pz... Unless you're Scottish, you might want to use close captioning while watching the Nicky episodes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    greta ☁️

    it wasn't as funny as the blurb made it out to be. there were a couple times i smiled to myself but what's funny about it? i mainly got pissed off reading because of the rude customers 😩 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ so the author of this book is actually a bookseller and his shop is based in Wigtown, Scotland. in his diary he speaks about a life within his bookshop's walls, his town, book deals and all sorts of things. it took me longer to read this book than i was thinking but here i am, annoyed with the customers it wasn't as funny as the blurb made it out to be. there were a couple times i smiled to myself but what's funny about it? i mainly got pissed off reading because of the rude customers 😩 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ so the author of this book is actually a bookseller and his shop is based in Wigtown, Scotland. in his diary he speaks about a life within his bookshop's walls, his town, book deals and all sorts of things. it took me longer to read this book than i was thinking but here i am, annoyed with the customers and one specific employee in the shop which is Nicky 😂 if i owned a shop and had her as my worker, she'd be long gone. she can't do things she was asked to do so why invest in an employee like her?? SACKED. ❌ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ anyway, if any of you here are booksellers, let me tell you one thing – you are gems. your patience must be brilliant. you lot have my respect cuz personally, i couldn't handle people. and i think this book would be brilliant for you to read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Neale

    Being a true bibliophile, I have always loved books about bookshops and the book industry. Also, Black Books, the old tv series about a bookshop and it’s cantankerous alcoholic owner, is one of my favourite shows as well. As a result this book is a match made in Heaven for me. While not as rude, belligerent, or gross as the owner of the shop in Black Books, the author, and owner of the shop in the book, Shaun Bythell, does have a similarity when it comes to customer relations. The book is basica Being a true bibliophile, I have always loved books about bookshops and the book industry. Also, Black Books, the old tv series about a bookshop and it’s cantankerous alcoholic owner, is one of my favourite shows as well. As a result this book is a match made in Heaven for me. While not as rude, belligerent, or gross as the owner of the shop in Black Books, the author, and owner of the shop in the book, Shaun Bythell, does have a similarity when it comes to customer relations. The book is basically a collection of anecdotes and stories of his daily life, concentrating on the customers, in the bookshop. The bookshop is the second largest second hand bookshop in Scotland and provides the scene for some hilarious, eccentric customers. I think I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading this book. The book also provides a look into the world of a second hand bookshop and the troubles these shops are facing from the internet. Sites such as Amazon (whoops there goes my goodread account) are gobbling up these shops at an alarming rate. This book is a delightful, enjoyable read which I’m sure most bibliophiles (and lovers of Black Books) will enjoy. 4 Stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    4.5* Shaun Bythell probably has the life every bookworm has dreamt of having. He lives in a quiet, beautiful little town in Scotland, mostly untouched by mass tourism. He owns an obese, lordly cat, he gets along with his neighbours, he has plenty of whimsical friends. And he owns a bookshop. Owning an independent bookshop is not the same as being a book-seller at Waterstones or Barnes and Noble. Shaun has no employer, has no need to please costumers or to put up with the most unsavory parts of r 4.5* Shaun Bythell probably has the life every bookworm has dreamt of having. He lives in a quiet, beautiful little town in Scotland, mostly untouched by mass tourism. He owns an obese, lordly cat, he gets along with his neighbours, he has plenty of whimsical friends. And he owns a bookshop. Owning an independent bookshop is not the same as being a book-seller at Waterstones or Barnes and Noble. Shaun has no employer, has no need to please costumers or to put up with the most unsavory parts of retail work, i.e., rude people. When people are rude, Shaun can just be rude right back at 'em. On the other hand, much of the work is devoted to keep the place afloat. No one gets rich selling second hand books. Yes, sometimes the odd rare volume comes along and one gets thousands of pounds (or euros or dollars) but objectively, most books sold are under 5 pounds. The Diary of a Bookseller ilustrates this perfectly. The perhaps sometimes overracted minutae of shelving, labelling, selling and buying books shows that owning a bookstore is not just sitting around reading and talking about books to informed - or even less informed - costumers. There's a lot of driving around and negotiating involved. Because of online retailing, bookshops lately also had to come up with ideas to remain "relevant" - an effort in creativity and community welfare that often goes unappreciated. Shaun Bythell makes the point Orwell had made before in his essay about bookselling that working in a bookshop does not necessarily make you love books more. On the contrary, books become work. From the moment something becomes an obligation it ceases to be fun. Which is why The Diary of a Bookseller is such an entertaining, sweet book. Shaun agrees with Orwell, but he never stops loving books or his own bookshop. All the work he puts into it is completely worthwhile. As is reading his book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Who would've thought I'd have tears in my eyes as I closed this book? So, a five it gets. I can highly recommend this book to most any reader, especially those of us who have dreamed of owning our own bookshops. The shop owner (and author) is as crotchety as they come, but at his heart, he is a good man who cares about his community. There is a touch of the romantic in there, too. I found him an interesting person to get to know, and I really hope he keeps writing. This book made me laugh out lo Who would've thought I'd have tears in my eyes as I closed this book? So, a five it gets. I can highly recommend this book to most any reader, especially those of us who have dreamed of owning our own bookshops. The shop owner (and author) is as crotchety as they come, but at his heart, he is a good man who cares about his community. There is a touch of the romantic in there, too. I found him an interesting person to get to know, and I really hope he keeps writing. This book made me laugh out loud til my stomach hurt (2 September entry), it made me think about things like the future of the paper book industry, customer service in the digital age, the behemoth that Amazon has become in, let's face it, nearly all of our lives, etc. But more than that, Shaun really did give me a good glimpse into the life of a bookseller. The fact that he lives and works in a seaside Scottish village in a really old house that contains his shop was the rich, thick chocolate icing on the cake for me in this one. I got to know his partner, his employees, some regular customers, other booksellers / shop owners, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself every time. There is a diary entry for each day, ranging from one or two paragraphs to about a page in length. Of course, each day naturally led on to the next, and I interestingly found myself preferring the library paper copy to my digital Audible version, which is something I think Shaun would be happy to hear. It was the epilogue that brought tears to my eyes, but never fear. The BookShop in Wigtown, Scotland is still open. I've been an Amazon customer for many years, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to patronize independent shops, even tho we no longer have one locally (because of Amazon). I understand the book business much better now and once again, Scotland calls. I hope I get to see The BookShop one day. Please read this book! I really think almost any reader would find many things to enjoy and appreciate here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    A fun book to read for anyone who has been a bookseller, or anyone in a retail environment really. Sometimes customers defy description. I chose to read this a few entries at a time, as diaries can be tedious when read straight through. Perfect bedtime reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ylenia

    Such a beautiful book about books & book selling. I already know what book I'm getting my friends for Christmas because this was hilarious & spoke to my misanthropic heart. Such a beautiful book about books & book selling. I already know what book I'm getting my friends for Christmas because this was hilarious & spoke to my misanthropic heart.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Wigtown is a beautiful rural town nestling in the south west of Scotland, and it has been designated as Scotland's official BookTown. It is home to a range of bookshops and book-related businesses as well as its own book festival. The Bookshop in Wigtown is Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop, with around 100,000 items of stock and miles of shelves, an open fire and nooks and crannies to lose yourself in. The proprietor of this bibliophile heaven is Shaun Bythell and on the 5th February 2014, Wigtown is a beautiful rural town nestling in the south west of Scotland, and it has been designated as Scotland's official BookTown. It is home to a range of bookshops and book-related businesses as well as its own book festival. The Bookshop in Wigtown is Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop, with around 100,000 items of stock and miles of shelves, an open fire and nooks and crannies to lose yourself in. The proprietor of this bibliophile heaven is Shaun Bythell and on the 5th February 2014, he decided to start keeping a diary of the things that happened in the shop. Over the next year, he tells us just how it is running a bookshop in the modern world, from battling against the 1100lb gorilla that is Amazon to travelling around Scotland looking at collections of books, hoping, but not expecting to come across that rare book that he knows will sell. Whilst he likes to have paying customers through the doors, it is his financial lifeblood, after all, there are certain types that he is critical of. Those that cross the threshold declaring a love of all things bookish are frequently the ones who leave empty-handed. He argues with customers who think that a second-hand bookshop should only stock titles that are £1 each and catching those that surreptitiously amended the prices of the books. And then there are the staff… This is a brilliant portrait about running a business in a small town, that the things that happen all have some impact on everyone in the town. He does not hold back in saying just how tough some things can be and how the core of second-hand bookshops, rare collectable and signed editions have had the heart and soul ripped out of the market with the internet in general and Amazon in particular. I really liked the way that he noted the number of orders that came through via the internet and the way this frequently varied from that actual number of books they could then find! Rightly, he has never embraced the flawed philosophy that the customer is always right and also seems to relish the verbal battle with those that want something for almost nothing. If, as a book lover, you have ever contemplated or dreamt of opening and owning your own bookshop then this is the book to read; you might just change your mind…

  30. 5 out of 5

    Auntie Terror

    I guess this one is a bit like "Black Books": not unenjoyable for the "general audience" - but they miss out on the grim satisfaction and joy of finding that one isn't alone. [Prtf] I guess this one is a bit like "Black Books": not unenjoyable for the "general audience" - but they miss out on the grim satisfaction and joy of finding that one isn't alone. [Prtf]

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