Book Reviews - Sallie Eden Book Reviews 2021 Default

Book Review – May 2021 – Sallie Eden

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Published in 2017 by Profile Books 

Shaun Bythell purchased The Bookshop in Wigtown (known as Scotland’s National Book Town) in 2001 and wrote this book because “everyone who has worked in the shop“ said that customer interactions provided suitable material.

It’s written in the form of a diary, starting in 2014, and since redrafted. Each daily entry commences with a couple of statistics (numbers of online orders and books found) and ends with the till total and number of customers. I’m sure those things are important to the store owner and possibly of interest to the owners of similar shops, but I’m afraid I started to skip over the detail about two weeks in.

There are descriptions of the staff, a motley collection certainly, but the repeated references to Nicky and her habit of skip-diving for damaged and out of date food from Morrison’s got rather tedious, so I began skipping over those too.

Then there were the frequent descriptions of calls from people wanting to sell books, the trips to look at those books, the owners of the books, and the purchase (or not) of those books. It was like Groundhog day but without the humour and I’m afraid I simply lost interest.

To be fair, there were a few interesting titbits, for example the author’s comment that (at the time of writing) the book market was controlled, not by publishers, but by the buyers for…. (plot spoiler). No, not Amazon!

I had high hopes for this book, after all, I love books, I like book shops and several reviewers have described it as “wonderfully entertaining” and “laugh-out-loud funny”. Sadly, I’m with the reviewer who said “It’s essentially the same day repeated until the end of the book”.

There’s a nice photo of the author’s cat on page 136 though.

Leave a Comment