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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Diary of a Bookseller

The Diary of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell

I saw this in my local just before Christmas and snatched it up, as my not-so-secret fantasy is to own a bookshop (me, not the bank, which is why it remains a fantasy), and I never get tired of reading first hand accounts from the front. But this one was even better than I was hoping for; it was informative, succinct (it's truly a diary, so entries are rarely more than a page) and best of all, it's hilarious.

 

Each day begins with a tally of books sold online, and how many of those books he is able to actually locate in his stock (100,000 books; I can't even find a book I'm looking for in my paltry 1200 or so).  From there it's a short narrative about what happened that day.  Usually something his employee Nicky does, doesn't do, or says, or an anecdote about one or more customers doing something inane, rude, or more often, both.  (This is not the book to read if you're looking for affirmation on humanity.)  

 

Less often, but my favorites, were his field trips abroad to buy books.  And strewn throughout is the very real, and very serious, consequences Amazon has on booksellers.  It's one thing to know that Amazon is taking away independent booksellers' business by out pricing them on everything, but it's another thing altogether to understand how much control they have over small booksellers across the globe.  Even if you don't buy your book from Amazon, Amazon likely controls or influences how you purchase it.  

 

Each entry ends with the daily earnings; a number so fluid as to range anywhere from 5 Pounds to 1,000, and - spoiler alert - the days where he took in more than 700 Pounds was less than 3.

 

If bookshops and the eccentric people who visit them aren't your cup of tea, this book probably isn't going to delight you the way it did me, but if you secretly wish you could own, work, or live in a bookshop and have an appreciation for the irreverent humor of a man worn down by humanity at its most dubious, then definitely check out this book.  As I said at the start, it's informative (in spite of the hard facts, I still want to own a bookshop), it's easy to read (although once I started I was disinclined to stop) and it's laugh out loud hilarious.  I almost snorted.  And I'm following the author on Facebook; I never follow authors (well, ok, Amy Stewart, but honestly, as much as I love her books, I follow her for her art - she's disgustingly talented).

 

In fact, check him out on facebook first; if you like his posts, you'll love this book!