by: Shane Gottwals
Isn’t the life of a bookseller really really boring?
At times, I think it is. That’s, at least, the way I’m feeling at this moment now. I’ve even looked at a couple of job search website to see what other sorts of things I can do with my time. I’m not interested in selling any of my stores, but sitting in a used bookstore can often get tedious. Isn’t there something more exciting out there for me?
The book business involves two things for the store owner: books and business. Some people LOVE the book side of the business, and this is why they got involved in the first place. In my opinion, this is a terrible reason to go into business, but it’s nice to see book lovers able to surround themselves with books!
The second aspect is the pure business side of the endeavor. This is why I got involved in used books. I enjoy business. I like reading about business, hearing about business, and having my hands in business. After a while with one business model, though, you want more. At least, that’s how I work. “My thing” is not sitting in a bookshop all day, helping customers. I do enjoy helping people, and we are known for our fantastic service, but I like the other side of the business. I like building business and watching growth. I like managing… that’s “my thing.”
I guess my real question is, “Do any of you feel like exploding from your comfy leather chair when you’re at work?” Maybe some of you enjoy the experience so much that you never tire of it. I wouldn’t say that I’m “tired,” but I want to do more. Is this a claustrophobic chronic disease of the independent bookseller? Am I alone in this?
Now, as I am writing all of this, the store is filling with people. There are probably 7-8 in here now, opposed to 2-3 that were in here when I started my rant. Having a more full store definitely makes me feel better, but I know that someone else could be here instead of me. Too bad employees cost money… I could be out acquiring inventory, managing all three of our stores, etc. Since the independent bookshop does not bring millions of dollars in revenue, it’s tough to replace yourself with hired help. Sure, I could go get another job, but I’d need to deduct quite a bit from my salary just to pay for a replacement here.
Should boredom in the workplace always be expected, regardless of where you work? Can you really stay content as a bookseller?
Many of you have been doing this for a lot longer than I have… how have you kept your sanity? Maybe sanity isn’t a problem for the true book lover. I can’t say that I am a voracious reader. I enjoy reading, but my attention span gets diverted far too easily to sit all day and read. (I know this is how some of you pass your time. I just can’t seem to do it… I want to stay busy, and reading isn’t “being busy” to me.)