What a fun little read this was! Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops is more novella than book territory (clocking in at 128 pages) and as I was reading I was getting perfect-Christmas-gift-for-the-book-lover-in-your-life vibes from it.
Opening sentence: In his preface to Antiquarian Books: An Insider’s Account (David & Charles, 1978) Roy Harley Lewis wrote that ‘the role played by antiquarian books in world trade is, financially, quite insignificant’.
It also ticks one of my favourite genre boxes: books about books. Yes, whether that’s fiction (The Bookish Life of Nina Hill) or non-fiction (Dear Reader) I love reading books about books. So, Shaun Bythell’s comic and witty take on the seven types of customers he gets into his Scottish second-hand book shop, The Bookshop was always going to be a hit with me.
Which kind of bookshop customer are you?
So, immediately you’ll be thinking: what category am I going to fall into? Well, let’s see… We have a wide range of people, from the expert who is more concerned about waxing-lyrical than book-buying to the families with young children who seem to think bookshops also provide some sort of creche service. In-between there are the loiterers that can be divided into either creepy or bored, the people that makes sounds without talking and the mysterious occultists…
Any of these sound familiar? As you can see, the range veers more towards the more colourful characters. As they are the most interesting to read about, obviously. And the category I most identified with myself? The perfect customer, of course! Yes. That’s exactly how I like to see myself. *Thinks furiously about any anecdotes booksellers might be sharing about me.*
I really enjoyed Shaun’s approach to each chapter. While sometimes a little scathing about his customer characters, it is all written with heart and his personal stories that are scattered throughout add to this genuine feel. Also, he’s very funny – made me laugh a lot.
It is about our customers: those wretched creatures with whom we’re forced to interact on a daily basis, and who – as I write this under coronavirus lockdown – I miss like long-lost friends.
Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops is actually Shaun’s third bookish themed book. I am yet to read his first two, The Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller but am adding them to my TBR now!