Review: Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell

Title: Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops

Author: Shaun Bythell

Published: 5th November 2020, Profile Books

Status: Read December 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops is a short book, not quite 150 pages long, from Scotland’s best known bookseller Shaun Bythell, author of the popular titles The Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller.

Bythell opines there are seven kinds of customers that frequent his second hand bookstore, each of which he labels with a Latin genus, and then breaks down into species. He is careful to admit these are none too generous stereotypes, generalisations that contain a core of truth but lack nuance.

His tongue in cheek taxonomy includes the Genus: Peritus Species: Homo Odiosus capable of lengthy lectures on subjects he (often wrongly) believes he is an expert in, and which tend to offend; the Genus: Homo qui desidet Species: Homo Qui Opera Erotica Legit (Erotica Browser) who seem to be intent on an innocuous book which is later revealed to have been ‘recovered’; and Genus: Viator non tacitus which includes Species that whistle, sniff, hum, fart, and tutter.

Bythell’s acerbic sense of humour borders on the supercilious at times, but I think anyone who has worked in retail will relate somewhat. Booklovers will hope that they fit in none of these seven categories and instead are of the rare ‘Bonus’ Genus: Cliens perfectus (Perfect Customer).

A quick easy read, Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops would be a nice holiday gift for fans of Bythell, or bookstores.

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Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$14.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

#NonficNov Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

 

Title: Confessions of a Bookseller

Author: Shaun Bythell

Published: November 1st 2019, Profile Books

Status: Read November 2019, courtesy Allen & Unwin

My Thoughts:

Last year I picked up Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, the proprietor of a small bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, but as I was on hiatus I didn’t post a review. To be honest I didn’t find it particularly riveting, but it certainly seemed to capture the reading public’s interest.

Confessions of a Bookseller is presented in the same vein as the first book with a dated entry briefly detailing Shaun’s day in the bookshop, or elsewhere, as well as totals that reveal sales, customer visits, and online orders received and filled. It’s an eye-opening view of the workings of a used/antiquarian book selling business in today’s tough market, a self described curmudgeon, Shaun most often bemoans the vagaries of book buyers, and sellers, the tyranny of Amazon, and the

The eccentric staff of the bookshop includes Nicky, a 40 something year old with a penchant for expired foods, who essentially does as she pleases, and ‘Granny’, an Italian intern of sorts, working in the store for bed and board. Sadly Shaun and Anna’s relationship has ended, but neither the house nor store are ever empty, with an endless stream of tradespeople converting a room in the back of a store into a ‘bothy’ (a spare room for lodgers), friends, and guests in the lead up to the Wigtown Festival.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the bookshop attracts an assorted group of quirky regulars, including the Mole-Man, Sandy the tattooed pagan, and an old man in a cowboy hat who lurks in the erotica section, as well as tourists and customers who range from the delightful to the querulous, providing quite a few chuckles.

Unfortunately for me the humour doesn’t quite offset the rather dreary minutiae and repetition, so I’m left feeling rather ambivalent about Confessions of a Bookseller, much as I did the Diary of a Bookseller.

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Available from Allen & Unwin

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Profile Books