The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

The Diary of a Bookseller

I was kindly sent an advanced copy of The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell recently by Profile Books, and was very eager to get stuck in straight away.

As an ex-bookseller and current small business owner I identified with so many things in this book.

“At 5 p.m a woman asked if her husband had left, so I told her that I had no idea who her husband was or what he looked like.  She scowled and left”

The book takes us through a whole year in the life of The Bookshop, Wigtown, Scotland and is full of anecdotes about staff and customers, alongside insights into the day to day running of the shop.   It even includes how many customers came in each day, the till totals and number of orders fulfilled, which was very interesting to me as I make the same notes in the gallery too.

“A customer came to the counter and said, ‘I’ve looked under the W section of the fiction and I can’t find anything by Rider Haggard.’  I suggested that he had a look under the H section.”

It’s laugh out loud on minute and a poignant look at the book industry the next, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

“An old man with a walking stick accosted Nicky as she was riling through a box of books that was destined for Cash for Clothes – ‘I’m looking for a book, but I don’t know what it’s called.  I know what it looks like, though.  It’s a very old book.'”

How brilliant ( and frustrating) to be in a business that goes from one extreme (above), to the other;

“In the afternoon a customer asked where we keep the ‘illustrated poetry books’.  I explained that we don’t have a specific section and that he would have to trawl through the whole poetry section.  He emerged two hours later, looking delighted with a pile of £200 worth of books, explaining that he had just taken up book collecting and thought that illustrated poetry was an interesting subject on which to build up a collection.  I genuinely thought that this type of person had ceased to exist.  I could have hugged him.”

Just brilliant, I highly recommend to everyone – but a little bit more if you have some experience of the book industry, just so you can roll your eyes in full recognition of the cast of characters you come across in this book.

Organdie x



Catching Up

Oh dear! I seem to have gone off the radar for a little while without meaning too.  We have been a little bit busy with a lot of things to do with Saltmarsh and Samphire and time just ran away with me…

We are looking into the possibility of getting a little shop, and it is so exciting!  If we can pull it off I think we will have a good chance of making this whole business thing work – if not then we might have to rethink what we are going to do in the future.  That makes me a bit sad – we have been giving this whole business thing a go for around 18 months now, and to be honest we have been struggling quite a bit with money and morale, and it would be awful to have to give up really.  So we are doing everything we possibly can to make our Saltmarsh and Samphire dreams a reality.

Have any of you started something and found it tricky to make it work?  How did you resolve things?  I am curious!

In other news, we went to The Country Living Christmas Fair the other week which was a nice day out.  I did think that the whole experience would be ever so slightly more Christmassy – as it was it was a lot more shopping-y than I thought it would be for some reason – but it was still fun.  I do feel a little sad (a lot sad actually) when I think of how Christmas is all about shopping now and not about the things that actually matter like family and friends and recharging a little after a busy year (and of course the religion if you are that way inclined!).  Working in retail really did kill Christmas for me a few years ago, before that I was all about Christmas and the festive season, and it upsets me that my Christmassy feelings have still not really returned in full all these years later.  So I have got some of my favourite Christmas books lined up to read in the run up to the big day and I am hoping that it might instil some lovely Christmas spirit in me once again!  I will let you know if it works.

I read A Christmas Carol and Letters from Father Christmas every year in the run up to Christmas and I love it – it is nice to have some little traditions at this time of the year.  Do you have anything that you do without fail around the holiday season?

Winter Books

Organdie. x


My Photography Course

Hello – Happy Friday again!

I feel like my life is a bit of a blur at the moment, I am sorting out the course, prepping for exhibitions and even booking my very first wedding (I have helped out at weddings with Brett, but this one is the first I have booked as a ‘proper’ wedding photographer – with responsibilities and everything.  Equally over the moon excited and petrified!).

My online course at Saltmarsh and Samphire is really taking shape now, I am so pleased with it and I cannot wait for the big reveal!  It shouldn’t be too long now (excited squeal!)

June Books

I have been reading up on business books like there is no tomorrow to get ideas of what I should be doing for the launch of a new product.  And while they are full of great ideas and words of wisdom, I am a bit business-ed out at the moment.  I have found myself retreating to my well loved, well read books (step forward Harry Potter – AGAIN?!) which always signals to me that I might be a tiny bit burned out.  So I am taking it easy on the business side of things (well, I am still working my socks off during the day, but I am allowing myself to do whatever I want in the evenings so I feel a little more balanced) and trusting that things will go as they are meant to for the time being.

I spent a lovely evening down on the beach last Friday with Brett, and it was great to get out with the cameras and enjoy a peaceful few hours not worrying about whether such and such had been done, or how many people might have checked into the blog.  Blissful once in a while to really switch off and enjoy the things that are going on around you – something that I don’t tend to do nearly as often as I perhaps should.

20th June - Beach

So folks, I am still working away to get my lovely little course out to you, but also treating myself to some (hopefully) well deserved me time too.

What have you been up to over the past few days?

Organdie. x

The Year in Books :: June

May has been a busy month for me all round, but I still managed to read 3 books in their entirety and the majority of a fourth.  Not quite sure how that happened – I usually take quite a while to get through books, especially fiction for some reason.

Perhaps I needed a break from all the business-y stuff going on, but May was a month of fiction – sci-fi and fantasy.

Hunger Games and Game of Thrones

I read the whole of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay – couldn’t quite put the books down actually.  I had watched the first two films fairly recently and thought I would give the books a go too.  This is not the way round that I usually do this – I almost always try to read the books first – but to begin with the books just didn’t appeal to me so the films were the way to go for me on this one.

After the films I felt like I just had to know how things ended, so I read the trilogy back to back over two weeks!  Unheard of!

I have also been sort of struggling through Game of Thrones by George R.R.Martin for an age – not quite being able to get into it with the vast array of characters and plots.  This was another one where I felt like I cheated somewhat – I watched the first series of Game of Thrones first and then tackled the book – but I had it on good authority (my brother is a huge Game of Thrones nerd) that it wouldn’t matter too much which way round I did this with regards to the first book/series.  I am going to read the rest of the books before being tempted by the TV series I hope as he says it gets a bit more complicated after the first go.  I actually finished this book on 2nd June, so I can’t quite include it in the tally for May, but three is pretty good going for me reading wise!

As for June, I think it will be back to some non fiction for a bit of a change (I actually haven’t read any in full since January!) and back to some more business-y books too.

June Books

I hope you have some interesting reading lined up too – I would love to know what you have in mind.

Organdie. x