Diary of a Bookseller- Best laugh of the year.

Snip20180109_1Shaun 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.Snip20180109_3

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.

Captain, the bookshop cat.


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 Snip20160612_11conversations 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

14 customers”

Noted on a Century of Books challenge- 2017


17 thoughts on “Diary of a Bookseller- Best laugh of the year.

  1. I am looking forward to this one! Everyone seems to be enjoying it so much. Although I have to say my reaction to his putting up the price on books people wanted but then left behind (good god man, are you not there to sell books?!?) is that he sounds like a jerk – or like someone who has taken too much career inspiration from Bernard Black of “Black Books”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I think he can be very rude and unlikeable at times but I think he gets frustrated with people who continuously want his books but don’t want to pay for them even when the price is beyond reasonable. He only torments the rude ones.😀


  2. It’s great isn’t it? I enjoyed it so much. That’s why it made my best of last year, as you know. I’d love t9 read other books like this. He’s so refreshing.


  3. Hi there! Found your blog through Mudpuddle’s. Loved this review. Never heard of the book but must now find it. And now for a stupid comment (please don’t judge me too harshly even though I deserve it): I did not know people lived on Tasmania. I only know of the island because of your little Devils.

    I think it is unspeakably cool to be from Tasmania. Now following your blog.

    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome. Tasmania has 500,000 people. It is beautiful. Google images will show you how beautiful. We have lived here 30 years. Originally from Michigan. We are now Australians. Hope you enjoy my posts. It is sometimes a bit of a mish mash.


  4. George Orwell’s ‘Bookshop Memories’ is a short essay , available online, and is well worth reading. It sounds like nothing has changed in the book trade!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve heard a few people say they enjoyed this. If it was just focused on the customers and his reaction I probably wouldn’t be interested but the fact he comments on how Amazon impacts these kinds of books is calling to me . Morrison’ s by the way is a supermarket chain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for enlightening me re: Morrisons. He talks a fair bit about the book business, how the shop is run and other ways he sells books besides just the shop. They also hold a festival. I thought it was very well rounded regarding the whole business. He also visits quite a few estates to look at collections. That was interesting too.


  6. i found it on Abebooks but they wanted almost $20 for it; they had Lisa’s, tho, for $10, so i got that… i’ll see if the library has the other one or wait til next month’s retirement whatchacallit…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I racked my brain for ages trying to remember the name of an Australian version of this… until finally I found it, it was called Trafficking in Old Books and it was written by an idiosyncratic bookseller who had a shop called Alice’s Bookshop somewhere in Brunswick or Carlton. It’s probably long out of print, but do grab it if you see it, it was great fun.


    1. great post: TX!… i love books like this and have to hurry up typing so i can order both of them, Lisa’s also…


    2. I have this on my shelf. Can’t remember if I have read it. Am going to dig it up again. Thanks for the reminder. I am looking for my next book to read. January might be the month for stories about books and booksellers. 🐧🐧🐧


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