The Diary of a Bookseller
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.

The Diary of a Bookseller Details

TitleThe Diary of a Bookseller
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 28th, 2017
PublisherProfile Books Ltd
ISBN-139781781258620
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Writing, Books About Books, Biography

The Diary of a Bookseller Review

  • Vanessa
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
    January 1, 1970
    Rich and varied tale of the tough world of bricks and mortar booksellers.Having visited Shaun's bookshop it was easy to picture both the shop, Wigtown and the beautiful Galloway countryside. Ok that's the end of the tourism promo, now the review. The books is a concise and well written read with Shaun dispensing many fascinating literary facts, bookseller anecdotes and observations on his varied and often eccentric clientele and staff. I love the random book club concept. Whilst the stories can Rich and varied tale of the tough world of bricks and mortar booksellers.Having visited Shaun's bookshop it was easy to picture both the shop, Wigtown and the beautiful Galloway countryside. Ok that's the end of the tourism promo, now the review. The books is a concise and well written read with Shaun dispensing many fascinating literary facts, bookseller anecdotes and observations on his varied and often eccentric clientele and staff. I love the random book club concept. Whilst the stories can a little repetitive he does gives a great insight into the world of the second hand bookseller and the irresistible domination of the market by amazon which makes my review here somewhat ironic as Goodreads is owned by amazon. The chapters are headed by Orwell quotes from when he worked in a bookshop which are a nice touch and the narrative naturally follows the ebbs and flows of the seasons as sales peak and trough throughout the year. If you are ever in the Wigtown area I'd highly recommend Shaun's bookshop for a visit but don't dare his wrath by leaving without a purchase - very hard to do in my experience.If you'd like to see some of the characters involved search for "readers delight" on YouTube and do follow them on Facebook. Will this be published as an ebook?, well my review copy was, but at least I read it on a kobo rather than a kindle. I was provided this book free by the publishers via netgalley but was not obliged to write a positive review.
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  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving. This is his diary of a year running his bookshop, ably assisted by a series of characters, both staff and customers. It is very funny and Shaun has a knack of penning descriptions of the customers who frequent his shop, form Mr Deacon who orders his books in perso I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving. This is his diary of a year running his bookshop, ably assisted by a series of characters, both staff and customers. It is very funny and Shaun has a knack of penning descriptions of the customers who frequent his shop, form Mr Deacon who orders his books in person, rather than online through to the inane questions asked by customers who think they are funny, with such gems as ‘I can’t find anything to read in here’ and ‘It is cheaper online’.You also get an insight into how hard it is to keep a second hand bookshop going with the mighty Amazon and eBooks/Kindle changing the book market place dramatically over the past few years. When he bought the bookshop in 2001 we had the Net Book Agreement (NBA) and chain retailers like Dillons, Ottakers and Borders, who have all gone now, plus eBooks were just starting to make an impact (there is a YouTube clip of him taking a shotgun to a Kindle and mounted in the shop – ironic for me as I read the book on my Kindle!).He is ably assisted/hindered by his one full time member of staff Nicky, who leads a novel way of life that includes raiding the local Morrisons bins for ‘Foodie Friday’. You get an insight into the world of assessing and buying book collections, usually after the death of a family member and can read the passion he has when he discovers a rare book or one beautifully bound and/or illustrated. The bookshop itself is used for events, including an annual literary festival and even has a bed in it, which makes a change from the usual coffee outlet found in a chain bookshop.Having worked in a bookshop (okay it was WHSmith’s but I was the Book Department Manager), I can relate to his perceived rudeness to some of his customers. As he says in the book he can get away with it as he owns the shop, sadly others in retail have to accept the insults and sarcastic comments some customers can send your way. He is never overly rude though, just to those that deserve it.Reading this book wants you a) to read many of the books he recommends and b) visit his bookshop, if only to meet some of the customers like Mr Deacon and the owner himself. If you have any interest at all in books, do read this as it will reinforce your love of books and bookshops.
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  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    Ah well this was absolutely wonderful. No bias because I'm a bookseller or anything.
  • Lauren LaTulip
    January 1, 1970
    The Diary of a Bookseller is just that - the day by day activities of a bookseller in rural Scotland. Mr Bythell's bookshop is in Wigtown - apt given the amount of time Shaun spends wigging out. Despite being annoyed by a number of his customers, Shaun Bythell is popular within his community and has a yearly round of dinners, dates and fishing/hiking engagements which he touches on lightly. Personal concerns are kept to the side and the most revealing information in his book is given about his r The Diary of a Bookseller is just that - the day by day activities of a bookseller in rural Scotland. Mr Bythell's bookshop is in Wigtown - apt given the amount of time Shaun spends wigging out. Despite being annoyed by a number of his customers, Shaun Bythell is popular within his community and has a yearly round of dinners, dates and fishing/hiking engagements which he touches on lightly. Personal concerns are kept to the side and the most revealing information in his book is given about his right hand bookseller, who is eccentric in the extreme.The rhythm of the bookshop, with regular acquisitions and sales in person and online, is addictive. Shaun's pleasure when someone who has been searching for a books for years finds, and buys, it in his shop comes across very well. I enjoyed this book as a palate cleanser to all the 'magical bookshops where people find love and fulfillment' books, but be warned it is quite dry.
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  • Carley Adair
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so funny and quirky. I loved Nicky she was hilarious. The customers in this book were interesting . Some where so rude it made me angry.Shaun was funny and a typical male bookseller . Oh how I loved this book.
  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    A big thank you to NetGalley and the author for an ARC of this book.I honestly wasn't sure what to expect - my 'go to' genre is mysteries, and this definitely isn't a mystery (unless it's why Nicky insists that what she gets from the Morrison's skip is still 'food'). I didn't realise this was based on an actual bookstore - have since Googled it and made a mental note that it's somewhere I need to visit - or actual bookseller and it did take me a few pages to grasp the diary structure. Once I did A big thank you to NetGalley and the author for an ARC of this book.I honestly wasn't sure what to expect - my 'go to' genre is mysteries, and this definitely isn't a mystery (unless it's why Nicky insists that what she gets from the Morrison's skip is still 'food'). I didn't realise this was based on an actual bookstore - have since Googled it and made a mental note that it's somewhere I need to visit - or actual bookseller and it did take me a few pages to grasp the diary structure. Once I did though, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Anyone who is/has been a bookseller can relate to varying degrees about the interactions with customers and their sometimes quirky and unusual requests and comments. I know I can certainly think of a few of my own!I admit, as an avid Amazon user, that I was unaware of the 'trickle down' - or rather, the non-trickle down - effect it has on the bricks and mortar independent bookshops. I still frequent the independents as and when I can, but I suppose the convenience of Amazon is part of its lure. But I have a greater appreciation for how difficult it must be to co-exist with a behemoth like Amazon, which is simply not interested in competition. Particularly for someone who has spent a large portion of his life focused on both books and his community, and bringing the two together in this small town in a rather remote part of Scotland.I found this book thoroughly enjoyable; it was funny, thoughtful, and entertaining, with endearing characters and some tear-your-hair-out ones.
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  • Madeleine Black
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book which spans across a year in the life of Scotland's largest second hand book store run by Shaun Bythell. We follow him day by day as he interacts with his customers and various trips to source the stock for his shop. Loved Nicky who worked there, especially "Foodie Friday" He is a lover of books but not the book buyer and his observations about his customers are very funny. It made me so thankful I didn't work in retail and was often bemused by his customers."An elderl I really enjoyed this book which spans across a year in the life of Scotland's largest second hand book store run by Shaun Bythell. We follow him day by day as he interacts with his customers and various trips to source the stock for his shop. Loved Nicky who worked there, especially "Foodie Friday" He is a lover of books but not the book buyer and his observations about his customers are very funny. It made me so thankful I didn't work in retail and was often bemused by his customers."An elderly customer told me that her book club's next book was Dracula, but she couldn't remember what he's written"
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    Being a bookseller (for Waterstones - boo!) I was fortunate enough to get a free copy of this book. I requested it as A. I'm a bookseller (for Waterstones - boo!) and B. I'm more than familiar with Wigtown and the local area if not The Bookshop itself. You don't however need experience of any of these to enjoy this humorous and lovely diary, maybe just an appreciation of books themselves and that is not totally necessary tbh. Shaun is a self proclaimed grump and his daily comments on customers a Being a bookseller (for Waterstones - boo!) I was fortunate enough to get a free copy of this book. I requested it as A. I'm a bookseller (for Waterstones - boo!) and B. I'm more than familiar with Wigtown and the local area if not The Bookshop itself. You don't however need experience of any of these to enjoy this humorous and lovely diary, maybe just an appreciation of books themselves and that is not totally necessary tbh. Shaun is a self proclaimed grump and his daily comments on customers and staff alike are highly amusing with his true warmth showing through. I've not been to the area for years but if I do go to Galloway again a visit to his shop will be on the top of my list.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this book,it was full of mundane day to day things,like who was working the shop,how fat the cat was,and orders people placed,and full too of eccentric characters - yes,I'm thinking Nicky with her foodie Friday - and charm and with. There's real insight into the world of buying and selling second hand books,and the knowledge required.Thrown on top of all that are the hilariously rude customers. I'll be looking for the bookshop on Facebook to continue reading about them.A lovely,lo I really liked this book,it was full of mundane day to day things,like who was working the shop,how fat the cat was,and orders people placed,and full too of eccentric characters - yes,I'm thinking Nicky with her foodie Friday - and charm and with. There's real insight into the world of buying and selling second hand books,and the knowledge required.Thrown on top of all that are the hilariously rude customers. I'll be looking for the bookshop on Facebook to continue reading about them.A lovely,lovely book.
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