Bookselling in a time when every book was worth something


I worked in a bookshop from 1994 to 1999.  It was the most fun job I ever had probably because I loved books, my boss was eccentric and the customers were also a bit odd so it was pure entertainment mixed with a wealth of learning as well as getting paid to do it.  I had some previous experience of books having been a great reader from a young age and also working part-time in my local library.

When I started work in the bookshop the owner was training me up and explaining all kinds of bookshop language, categories, descriptions of books and anything else I needed to know. I also went on a book-selling training course to Liverpool.  I have a good memory so that made life very easy as I was good to remember authors and if we had a particular book in the shop. There was no computer in the shop at the start.  

There was both new & second-hand (used) books in the shop. A lot of the second-hand books were bought from people who brought a bag of books in or asked for a house to be cleared out. In those days every book was worth something. The nice clean saleable books went in the shop and anything that was worn went into the bargain box outside the door which we called the coffin as it was shaped just like a coffin. People loved to poke it in and find a bargain.

Nowadays every book is not valuable. This is because of the flood of books on the internet and by what we in the trade call the dollar sellers.  It is driving down the value of perfectly good books which is good for the customer but no good for the seller or the actual value of books. I have boxes of lovely books on all kinds of subjects that just aren’t worth listing due to there being a couple of hundred copies on and some from sellers offering free shipping. I just keep them all for when I have my own bookshop.

I do miss those pre-internet days when people were glad to go to their local bookshop and see a book and buy it and when they had books to get rid of they came back to the bookshop and traded them in.  There is a home for every book but some days it’s a struggle to find the right person for the right book and vica versa.

 

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