Thursday, May 1, 2008

Once a Bookseller....

Booksellers are the most spoiled people on earth. When they read books, those volumes are pristine. They have the opportunity to fall in love with a book long before it is released to the public at large--thanks to advance reading copies sent to them by publishers. And they are paid to talk about books.
They also have jobs that are physically demanding and aerobically beneficial--climbing stairs and ladders are integral parts of the job. And the only rich bookseller is a trust-fund endowed bookseller.
I've been away from the trade for almost a year, and there has rarely been a day that I haven't missed a small portion of it. As a "civilian," I have had one hell of a time finding anyone with whom I can have a satisfying book discussion--the rest of the world seems to reserve those comments for their book groups, using "I liked it" or "I hated it" for any other chat involving reading habits.
When you're a bookseller, you live in a world of why.
I've tried to be a recovering bookseller. I've judged a book prize, reviewed books that I love, have gone to the library for my reading material. Of all of those activities, only the prize judging gave me a hint of the camaraderie, insight, and humor that was my daily bookselling sustenance.
Reviewing books is a purely one-sided affair--if it's done online, at least the number of hits are shown, but who knows if the reader finished the review, disagreed with it, bought the book....these are things a bookseller longs to know.
As for libraries--if I read one more book that is adorned with another person's meal, I'll become a functional illiterate.
I'm lucky--the bookstore that exemplifies the best of bookselling is letting me return for the summer, on a part-time basis so I can both work there and write. It may not be paradise, but it's as close as I will ever get.
"Hello. I'm Janet, and I'm a bookseller."


Alison said...

I think that it goes deeper than being a 'bookseller' (though I agree that you are). I think that words flow through your veins instead of blood.

I love all your essays.

Janet Brown said...

Somehow that's a rather terrifying image--"she died of a blockage of metaphors..."

Jessi Cotterill said...

Hello Janet

Thanks for visiting my blog.
I've just seen your comment on my blog when I looked through my old entries.

No...I'm not a writer, but hope you enjoy reading my blog.


Tokyo Ern said...

He he, I may not be on the floor as much in the bookshop in Tokyo, but I still consider myself a bookseller. I still recommend books to those customers and friends who ask. The book that really made me enjoy reading was "Q & A" by Indian writer Vikas Swarup. Also the two books by Khaled Hosseini - "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns". My pleasure to talk about books!!