So You Want To Own A Bookstore?
In 2001, Shaun Bythell bought a second-hand bookshop in Wigtown, a tiny town located on a peninsula in southwest Scotland. A few years into the enterprise, a friend suggested that he keep a record of memorable customer interactions and behind the scenes activity. He started keeping notes, and produced two highly entertaining diaries which cover the years 2014 and 2015.
A bookshop in rural Scotland is unlikely to be the busiest of retail establishments, but in 2014 Bythell supervised the many and costly repairs on his drafty Georgian townhouse, complained mightily about Amazon and on-line book sales in general, and managed his staff of one, the never-on-time, Nicky. He also went fishing.
Occasionally a live customer ventured into the shop; a few bought a book.
In addition to the dotty customers, the diary entries are populated with a number of regular characters, the post mistress, the grumpy newsagent, Bythell’s parents, his girlfriend, and lots of overnight guests, who stay for days and drink inordinate amounts.
Year 2015-More of the same!
For all of his complaints, it is clear that the cantankerous and impoverished Bythell is perfectly happy and ideally suited to be a bookseller!
Highly recommended and full of book chat.
What Other Reviewers Say
Dwight Garner, The New York Times: “Among the most irascible and amusing bookseller memoirs I’ve ever read.”
Who Wrote It
Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, and is also one of the organizers of the Wigtown Festival. He lives above the shop with his cat, Captain.