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August 11 is Love Your Bookshop Day and we're celebrating by asking booksellers to tell us why they love their job!

Anna Low from Potts Point Bookshop

There are so many things I love about being a bookseller it is hard to know where to start. There is nothing better than recommending a book to someone and it sends them off on a new reading path. Getting to know your customers, their likes and dislikes and being able to suggest a book to them is immensely satisfying. I love the trust that we have in our community and how we become an integral but small part of people’s everyday lives - we know when there is a new baby or job, a birthday or other significant event.  We help to choose books for every occasion.  It is hard to describe the thrill you feel when you read something you really love and you know that you can then recommend it to your customers and they will love it just as much as you do. And still, after more than 20 years, nothing beats the excitement of a pile of boxes full of new books.

Photo credit: Potts Point Bookshop

Sean Guy from The Bookshop Darwin

Last year I wrote a review for my favourite book of all time, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It went like this: “I’m not afraid to say that this is my favourite book ever. Too good to describe in under 3 sentences – just read it!” Since putting this review on the shelf sales have increased tenfold. It’s not a con; American Gods really is my favourite novel. It’s strange and multi-layered, everything I want in a book. But I think this story about my review proves something greater about the bookselling industry, and the way people shop. We want recommendations! We thrive on the discussion!

I love being a bookseller because you will never get that experience online. You might be able to buy a book online, but you won’t be able to sticky-beak at what other people are reading and get a copy for yourself. You can’t ask staff why Joe Abercrombie’s novels have been perpetually on the “staff favourites” shelf, or overhear a discussion about why The Disaster Artist bought tears of laughter to someone’s eyes. And you certainly can’t build a genuine friendship with your bookseller if you go online, just like you can’t have an online book club; or perhaps you can, but where’s the fun in a book club that doesn’t involve a little gossip and wine?

Reading often sounds like a solitary, lonely, hobby but the reality is it’s anything but. We might spend a few hours alone while we read a book, but then it stays with us for years – and then there’s the never-ending process of discussing and recommending! Books can truly change our lives. As a bookseller, I’m honoured to play this small part for so many amazing, unique people…but even aside from that, I’m just having too much fun to stop. It’s the best job.

Photo credit: The Bookshop Darwin

The team from Three Four Knock at the Door

We grew up loving reading and have very fond memories of going down to our local bookstore on a Saturday to buy new books. So when we were thinking about opening our own business a bookshop seemed to be a natural fit. Having two young daughters/nieces and reading to them from the moment they were born - in fact, the first thing L-J bought when she was pregnant was a book - and knowing the importance of reading to and with children, specialising in children’s books was a given.

Being a bookseller is undeniably hard work, but that work pays off when a child comes back and tells you how much they enjoyed the book you helped them choose and wants help finding a new one. Putting a brilliant but unknown title into the hands of a reader still gives us a thrill. Watching children grow up through our bookclubs and knowing we’re a part of their reading journey is priceless.

Plus we both still love reading. We make a real effort to read as many of the books as we stock as we can and we love discussing these books with each other and other readers (of all ages). I think that contagious joy is a key ingredient to the success of our 7+ bookclubs.

If we were to boil it down to one sentence, we love being booksellers because we love books!

Photo credit: Herald Sun

Joanna Rogers from Torquay Book

Being a bookseller is a special job that requires an immense passion for books. I love being a bookseller because I get to spend most of my working days talking about books; books that I love, books that I hate, books that may change lives and minds. The fun begins when a customer comes in needing help to find their next great read or desperately seeking a present for their “husbands brother’s daughter” or their mother in law they know nothing about. The investigative juices start flowing and the feeling of accomplishment when you successfully match a person to a book is almost euphoric. Reading a book months before it’s published is possibly one of the best ‘perks of the job’ on the planet! Meeting like-minded people in the book industry is always a pleasure and the interchange of encouragement we share is priceless. A bookshop has a special place in the community it dwells in, and to be a part of that provides feelings of pride and contentment. Really, no high flying career could compare to the job satisfaction you get from being a bookseller.

Photo credit: Freelocalnews.com.au

Lindy from Abbey's Bookshop

Why do I love selling books?

Let's see.

Well, it's not working for a bank - that's a start. A bad day in the bookshop is better than a good day in the bank - but really there are very few bad days bookselling, because of the real reason bookselling is easy to love: BOOKS.

Books, glorious books!

And the people who love them, are such an assortment of humans that you can be endlessly diverted, amused, educated and challenged. Where would I be without my regulars - the one who reads Nobel Laureates, the rose-growing London bus enthusiast, the military history buff who keeps bunny rabbits, the ladies who buy books in anticipation of sharing them with grandchildren-yet-to-be-born; not to mention all the others who pass by, drift in, and return. There is such a glow of satisfaction when a customer comes back to tell you how much they enjoyed the book you persuaded them to try - and even more so when they tell you that that book you carefully chose for the child in their life, has been a great success.

Bookselling is a calling in a world of retail where personal service of the sort I (and other Real Booksellers) can offer, is rarely to be seen anymore. No matter how busy you are with all the other stuff, you take time with your customers, to find the right book to make it a worthwhile experience for them - and for yourself. And what's not to love about that?!

Photo credit: AmReading.com.au

Lea Wilson from The Book Warehouse Lismore

To be clear here, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world. We are made of stories. Books contain everything we are, everything we’ve been or might one day become. People who read are the luckiest people in the world and the booksellers who serve those needs are truly the keepers of the treasure. 

There is a very great pleasure in matching a questing reader with just the right book. The question ‘What was the last book that you loved?’ can open a world of connections. Bookshops can be like a maze to some customers who require gentle guidance to connect the dots from what they last read and loved to what might now bring the rush of discovering a new author. There’s such a pleasure in a returning customer who has found solace, joy, or a multitude of other emotions in a book that I’ve recommended.

I’ve always believed that the right book can help heal the broken places inside us. Good literature is about resilience in many cases. A well-written book with great characters (they’re always the most important thing) will bring empathy for those lives we haven’t lived and sometimes immense gratitude for the lives we have.

If we read then we are never left alone to grapple with the meaning of life. We have the wisdom and follies of a multitude of voices to call upon.

Photo credit: truelocal.com.au

Deb Force from The Sun Bookshop

When I was a teenager my teacher at high school, Mr Hawney, told me he never wanted to see me working in a shop and that I was too good for that. So I spent many years working as a waitress, a ticket seller, an usher and then finally after 20 years of avoiding shop work I became a bookseller. AND I LOVE IT. Now 20 years later….

Bookselling, how do I love it? Let me count the ways:

  1. All my nerdy childhood dreams of having an endless supply of books have come true.
  2. I get to work with incredible passionate 'booky' people.
  3. I get to talk about books in an obsessive way, always.
  4. Spreading the book love is fun.
  5. That incredible feeling of reading a book from a debut author that you love and knowing that you can work hard to be part of its success.
  6. Being part of the Australian book industry, a strong and thriving industry is such a joy.
  7. The ability to lay on the couch or in bed reading all day and then be able to tell everyone you have been working very hard!
  8. Which you have.
  9. Working in a shop, hooking the people up (better than an app) with the books you know they will love.

Did I mention reading, and books and books and reading?

Of course, the bookseller does not work in a vacuum and Hachette Australia is a great supporter of local writers and booksellers. They are always very good at getting the work from the writers to the booksellers to pass on to the readers. Hachette are publishers of so much great local talent: Maxine Beneba Clarke, Mark Brandi, Sara Schmidt, Favel Parrett, William McInnis, Future. D. Fidel, Michael Robotham, Jessica Townsend, Shaun Tan, Zana Fraillon and so many more. Yes, together we can do it! Happy Love Your Bookshop day everyone.

P.S. Mr Hawney - Yes I do work in a shop and it is great.
Photo Credit: Herald Sun

Chloe & Tanée from Riverbend Books

There are so many reasons why we love bookselling! It doesn't feel like work because we get to talk about books all day, and it's the kind of job where you have something in common with your customers. It's so satisfying to know you’ve put just the right book into someone's hands, but we also really love getting recommendations back from our favourite regulars as well. We get to be a part of this huge community of readers of all ages sharing ideas with each other – eavesdropping on heated discussions in a book club, listening to authors at events and seeing kids excited about books – proof that a love of reading is alive & well!

Photo credit: Riverbend Books

Julie Garner from Dymocks Waurn Ponds

I love being a bookseller because: 
a) Books, lots and lots of new books and
b) I love that moment when you connect with a customer over a book or you find that perfect gift for them.

Being able to share a passion for something that you love is not really a job but a really fun way to talk about stuff you know and that the customer is looking for.

Simon McDonald from Potts Point Bookshop

Even as a child I knew my life was destined to orbit stories and storytellers. As I grew older, the precise capacity in which I’d do that changed — I envisioned myself as an editor and a publisher, or working in the media — but these ultimately felt disconnected from the people I really wanted to influence: readers.

I’ve always respected and valued the human component of the literary experience; the art (and joy) of matching reader to writer. Booksellers are ideally positioned between the publishing industry and readers, whose only objective is to obliterate an hour of their day (or more, hopefully, if we get it right) in the company of a great book.

I don’t have many marketable skills — but I am a consummate bibliophile, capable of distilling the ingredients that made a certain book work for a specific reader, and finding another book that will captivate them in the same way… most of the time, anyway. And the thing about that — which nobody talks about! — is how addictive that mental process is, of unlocking the clues — how it unleashes dormant bookish endorphins; and how the effect is increased tenfold when it’s a young reader. Welcoming kids into the world of Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor is an experience I’ll cherish forever.

The job has a lot of perks: advance copies of books; the opportunity to meet my favourite authors; introductions to new and rising writing talent; being wined and dined by publishers; but more than anything, bookselling is inimitable and joyful because I get to spend my days surrounded by books and a community of readers; both our staff, and our customers. Most people have to take time out of their day to discuss books; that’s my every day. That’s all it is.

Thomas Saras

Thomas Saras

Marketing Executive and Head of the Realm at Hachette Australia Books. Mutant power: Aggressive humour. Lifelong Trekkie (I don’t find that offensive) comic book reader and former proud bookseller. Likes: Literary, contemporary and speculative fiction. Dislikes: Haters. Ideal date: My birthday.

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