Diary of a Bookseller

What a Bookseller *Really* Does

Diary of a Bookseller, Day 1

When people find out I work at a bookstore, invariably one of their first reactions is “I wish I could read at work!” They are often shocked to find that I do not have any spare time at work for reading. I’m working. My friend Amanda who works at a call center has way more time to read than I do. So below, I thought it would be fun to share my bookstore life with you!

My Role: Manager of a Local Independent Bookstore

As the manager of an indie bookstore, the Towne Book Center & Wine Bar in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, about a 45 minute drive northwest out of Philadelphia, I wear many different hats and am first and foremost a bookseller and that will be my focus this week!

Bookselling

I am the sort of reader who really doesn’t like asking for or taking other people’s recommendations. I read off the wall sort of stuff and, not to be arrogant or anything, but typically have read the big series before they blew up, especially when it comes to young adult works. So when I took my job, I was shocked to discover that I’m in the minority – most people like recommendations and they come into our store because they like ours in particular. As someone who has never had a problem dolling out recommendations (just ask my sister!), I enjoy curating our staff pick selection, writing blurbs (mini-reviews) of them, and sharing them with other people. I tend to read across a lot of genres, so I usually have a pretty good repertoire in my head to recommend.

Shelving

All booksellers must know the alphabet backwards and forwards and we are expected to know at the drop of the hat if we have a book on the shelf at any given time – shelving (or receiving) is the best way to become familiar with the store’s inventory. However, there are over 10,000 titles on our shelves, and yet it never fails to surprise me when people are surprised that I don’t know exactly where an obscure title is or when they find out that I haven’t read every book on the shelf.

Displays

Being an independent bookstore means we get to create all of our own displays! Yay! We have 35 different displays in the store and we change them. Monthly. That means we have to come up with 420 unique displays every year. Sure some are recycled from year to year, but we usually brainstorm all new displays every month, every year. It’s fun, but sometimes you get burnt out and wish you had someone else telling you what to put out. Please consider this an open invite – if you have an idea, let me know! We come up with them all together as a staff each month and the publishers will occasionally offer ideas, but we can always use more!

Social Media

It’s the 21st century – bookstores that don’t have active social media accounts are losing out. The woman who runs our social media account relies on all of us to help come up with ideas for it and it’s so much fun. Last week I did my first “bookface” post on our store Instagram, the same picture used for my review of Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger and it’s now our top post, as well as my top post on my Celebration of Books account.

Next Week: Author Events!