‘It must be so lovely owning a second hand bookshop!’ - every customer almost ever.
I’m going to be a bit honest here, owning a second hand bookshop is not the bed of roses you might imagine it to be. So here’s a debunking of the myths of all the things you THINK owning a secondhand bookshop is like.
Myth: You get to sit around all day and read
Reality: Do you see the piles of books behind the counter that are taller than me? Yeah, I need to find somewhere for each and every one of those books to live so I can then find them again, while being interrupted fifteen hundred times to help people find said books. (There is a reason Borders used to do their shelving after closing.)
Myth: You can read any book you want
Reality: ‘Do you know what the new **** is like?’ Is a common question for booksellers. So although you have access to many books you desperately want to read, you don’t necessarily have them on the top of the to-read-pile because so many people are asking about the latest big release. Even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally go near, you still gotta read it objectively to be able to recommended it.
Myth: Every customer must be lovely
Reality: People have actually demanded their money back because they didn’t like the book. Enough said.
Myth: You are so lucky making a living doing what you love
Reality: It’s still a job, a living and every day. Even if you’re not feeling well, there are no sick days (unless you have very understanding and available employees). In a bad week, you need to pay your employees which means you won’t get paid. Bills first, then if there’s anything leftover you get paid.
Myth: We know everything about every book.
Reality: We’ve had three people in the last 20 minutes ask for the latest fancy release that was mentioned in the Good Weekend. So off the top of our heads we know straight away that - No we don’t have it, no we don’t know when we’re going to get it and unfortunately you’ll be 16th person in the Wishlist for it.
Stay tuned next month for the the Top Five Best Reasons to Work in a Bookshop!