Shaun Bythell is a bookseller. Not just any bookseller. He is wry, sardonic, sarcastic and sometimes just a rude man who owns a house that is his shop in Wigtown Scotland. Wigtown is in the southwest part of Scotland. I am sure it is a beautiful area. He has an appreciation for the trade though that has kept him going quite a few years.
His mentor seems to be George Orwell. He refers to Memories of a Bookseller, an essay by Orwell, quite a few times. I want to read that essay as well as it too is very humorous. The two of them have a lot in common when it comes to the second hand book business.
If you are the type of person who does not deal with fools gladly you will love him. If you are a proper, upstanding individual who doesn’t appreciate rudeness when it is due you might want to read something else.
This is Shaun’s diary during 2014. I found it to be very funny. There are moments when I laughed out loud. The people around him are also very entertaining. Shaun does have a soft spot for some people, though I doubt he likes to admit it. For example people who find a book they have been searching for everywhere for years. He discounts it or gives it to them. Children whose eyes light up when they discuss books.
I also enjoyed his assistant, Nicky, a very eccentric, quirky young woman.
Every Friday Nicky raids the bin behind Morrison’s. (I assume that is a restaurant or bakery.) She finds goodies that are still wrapped but past their use by date. That girl will eat anything. Not only will she eat the stuff she scrounges she will offer it to others. She updates their facebook page and doesn’t seem to have a lot of boundaries. Their facebook page by the way is here.
If a customer rings Shaun wanting the name of a book he/she saw earlier on a shelf he won’t tell them. When they ask why he tells them, “You’ll only look it up on Amazon and buy it from them.” “I know what book you are talking about. We have it here. I can put it aside for you.” They usually hang up on him.
If someone carries a book around the shop, coveting it so to speak, but Shaun won’t lower the price on it, they leave it behind. When they return later in the day or the next day and decide to buy it they will find the price has gone up a couple of pounds. They often leave in disgust.
Shaun fights a continual war with Amazon. There is a lot of factual information he offers about Amazon that helps the reader understand why. Though most of us know the reasons why.
He has a kindle hanging in the shop that has been shot. You can see the bullet holes in it.
I loved this book and it is something I would read again. I have already listened to the same parts of it more than once.
I bought the book but I have the audible version as well and I read it as I listen to it. The narrator of the audible version is Robin Laing. He does a brilliant job of voicing the conversations of the customers.
I would recommend this book highly. But only if you need a good laugh.
Sample entry follows:
“Monday, 12 May
Online orders: 5
Books found: 3
After lunch I was accosted by a man in a cagoule with a terrible lisp, who came over to my side of the counter, uncomfortably close, and asked ‘Now what do you specialise in?’ to which I replied, ‘Books’, which was, I admit fatuous. Predictably, he was not impressed and replied, ‘Do not be smart with me.’ In a pointless continuation of my previous fatuous comment I replied, ‘Why not?’ Needless to say, the conversation did not end well. In fact, he became so odious that I had to pull rank and make Nicky deal with him.
Till total £84.50
Noted on a Century of Books challenge- 2017