Did you know that Scotland has a book town?
Wigtown got the title of Scotland’s National Book Town in 1998. I have always wanted to go and one day I will. However, until I can visit the booklover’s haven in person, I got to visit via the medium of books!
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is just as the title suggests, a diary kept by a secondhand bookshop owner in 2014. Bythell owns The Bookshop, the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland. In this book, he details his daily life running a bookshop, from dealing with less than delightful customers to his rather eccentric employees. All under the watchful eye of his beloved cat, Captain.
Much like This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay, the real enjoyment from The Diary of a Bookseller comes from Bythell’s snarky humour and wit. I kept chuckling to myself while reading his account. His outlook tends to be very pessimistic and blunt, yet in an endearing way. The book reads like an older family member ranting about their day.
Bythell’s insight gave me a new perspective on the business side of bookshops. Especially in the age of Amazon, kindles and big bookstores like Waterstones. In fact, until reading The Diary of a Bookseller I was under the impression that AbeBooks was an independent site. Nope, turns out they are owned by Amazon. Guess I’m not shopping from there anymore. I prefer to shop small or independent whenever possible.
If I wanted to go to Wigton before, after reading The Diary of a Bookseller I am desperate to! When I eventually get the chance, I will make it a priority to stop by The Bookshop. I have been reading a fair amount of heavy books, so a light funny read was just what I needed. I couldn’t put it down.
Bythell has two more books published, Confessions of a Bookseller and Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops. I am currently on a book buying block, but when that ends I am going to read them too. If they are half as funny as The Diary of a Bookseller then I will be satisfied.
The Diary of a Bookseller is a must-read for all booklovers. Especially if you have been missing going to your local secondhand bookshop, it’s the next best thing.