cover image Confessions of a Bookseller

Confessions of a Bookseller

Shaun Bythell. David R. Godine, $25.95 (328p) ISBN 978-1-56792-664-4

Bythell follows up Diary of a Bookseller with an assortment of amusing and often cantankerous stories about a year in his life as the owner of a used bookstore in a Scottish village. The author painstakingly tracks sales, the number of customers who visit, and till totals for each day, punctuated by acerbic observations. There are the head-scratching requests (“I’m looking for a book but I can’t remember the title. It’s called The Red Balloon.”), unexpectedly hilarious purchases (an elderly man buying a guide to wild sex), and the clueless (“It’s a bookshop.... So does that mean that people can just borrow the books?”). Bythell’s scathing commentary about customers drives much of his narrative, including a description of a woman wearing an unpleasant fragrance (“which I can only assume was manufactured as a particularly unpleasant neurotoxin by a North Korean biochemist in a secret bunker. Kim Jong Ill, indeed”) as well as cheap customers asking for discounts or complaining about prices (“ ‘That’s outrageous! Who would want to buy that?’ Well, you for a start”). Bibliophiles will delight in, and occasionally wince at, these humorous anecdotes. (Apr.)