The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

When I was young one of my ambitions was to own a secondhand bookshop. It was an ambition that was never fulfilled but I do still love to wander around shelves full of pre-loved books.

Shaun Bythell owns Scotland’s biggest secondhand bookshop and for a year he kept a diary of life in that shop. The diary was published in book form, The Diary of a Bookseller, a couple of years ago and it makes interesting reading for anyone who’s ever wondered what goes on behind the mountains of paperbacks and collectables.The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

There are comments on the customers (especially those who spend hours reading by the bookshop fire and then don’t buy anything), the staff (who have a tendency to the eccentric), the people who are selling their lifelong book collections and the way online ordering works in the secondhand industry. Sunny summer days are busy but in winter the takings are meagre.

Two particularly interesting points from the book are worth highlighting. Why not join the shop’s Random Book Club? For £59 a year you will be sent a surprise book every month. Might make a great present for someone who loves to try different genres?

And, if like me, you’ve ever wanted to run your own secondhand bookshop, here is the holiday for you:

Stay in the apartment above another secondhand bookshop, The Open Book, and you get to manage the bookshop (with help from volunteers) during your stay. But you need to plan ahead – the holiday is very popular and booked a couple of years into the future. Get on the waiting list via the Open Book Facebook page or book the apartment via AirBnb.


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  1. #1 by lynnforthauthor on December 19, 2019 - 3:19 pm

    How interesting and encouraging that so many people want to stay and run a a Book Shop. A definite sign of hope that all is not lost in the booky world.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on December 20, 2019 - 11:49 am

      A good point, Lynn. Great that so many people love books.

  2. #3 by juliathorley on December 21, 2019 - 1:05 pm

    I loved this book. I have a couple of friends who have each tried to run a second-hand bookshop and failed, though not for want of hard work. It’s a tough world out there.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on December 21, 2019 - 1:14 pm

      Shaun’s book does show that it’s not easy to make a living selling secondhand books, Julia. I guess it needs lateral thinking like his Random Book Club.

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