Hi fellow bookdragons!
Today I thought I’d share some bits from my job, myths around bookselling and a peek behind the scenes of a bookshop. There is so much to say about bookselling, customers, weird questions, facepalm moments that I will probably make one or two more posts like these. The comic strips used in this post are by @customerservicewolf (permission was given) and I love them so much! They capture the soul of a bookseller so well. Go and check out their website here! 🙂
Ok, let’s do this! What is the first image that pops into your head when you hear ‘bookseller’? Reading? Talking about books? Geeking? Piling books? Decorating tables? All true but there is so much more to bookselling.
Due to the fact that I’m in Austria, everything I say only concerns German-speaking countries and the German book market 🙂 I’m sure it’s different in other parts of Europe and on other continents.
How do new releases get to the shop?
The process of ordering books begins about half a year before the book is even released. We are sent catalogues from every German and Austrian publisher and we pick the books we want to have in the shop. Then a flood of publisher representatives swaps into the shop and we talk conditions, offers and how many copies we want.
A few days after release date we automatically are sent the new releases! Yay! ❤
Reasons we can’t have every new release in stock:
- they would take up all the space
- classics, standard works and customer favourites would have to go to make space
- some books would not be bought or are hard to sell or too specific for a broad audience -> that’s what special orders are for 🙂
Book not in stock? It’s not the end of the world …
90% of German books take 1-2 business days to arrive. Imagine that! 1-2 business days, that’s almost as fast as medication. Sometimes books just sell out, it happens. We re-order and they will be here in max two days. That’s so fast! Back in the days it would take two weeks to order a book. We have grown so much and the book market has become so fast and customer-oriented.
Do you even read?
Each year about 10k new books are released into the German market (like birds). That is a lot! It’s not humanely, physically, spiritually or logically possible for a bookseller to read all of that. So if a bookseller is honest with you and tells you that they haven’t read a new release yet, please don’t scoff at them. Booksellers do read and a lot but they also work eight hours a day and after seeing books, talking about books, researching books, recommending books and rearranging books all day long sometimes I just don’t wanna see books any more or read in my free time. Please don’t assume I’ve read every new book because that’s literally impossible.
Most bookseller’s are responsible for certain sections and will be the shop’s expert in those sections because they read in this specific area. They will have basic knowledge of the other sections but on their turf they’re unbeatable. Like this the shop covers every section and has booksellers that have in depth knowledge of their sections thus offering the customers a better service.
Mythbusters Bookseller Edition
- Booksellers have the possibility to read all day long ❤
Nope, we are forbidden to read at work. There are a thousand other things to do: check the shelves if anything is missing, re-order, recommend books to customers, send old books back to the publisher, clean, shelve the new arrivals, place orders for customers and so on. I don’t think I’d have the time to grab a book and read more than the blurb to check where to shelve it. If I could I would read all day long but that’s just not possible.
Bookselling often is like any other retail job with demanding and entitled customers but those are balanced out by the flood of amazing people coming to the shop to find books and have a lovely conversation about literature. I absolutely love my job and here is nothing better than seeing people finding what they were looking for or people leaving with an entire bookstack. I live for that shit. ❤
If you want to read more about booksellers and their daily run-ins with customers be sure to check out this gem of a book! It is the funniest thing I’ve ever read! 😀 Be sure to visit Jen Campbell’s website!
Have you ever wanted to ask a bookseller about their job? Now’s your chance! Just drop a question in the comments down below and I’ll do a Q&A next time round answering them. 🙂