Friday, 28 December 2018

Book Review | The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

My Rating: 6/10 
Published: 28th September 2017
Pages: 310 
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
Amazon | Goodreads

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye. 

Going into the Diary of a Bookseller I had high hopes and thought it would be full of hilarious anecdotes about working in a bookshop and be in the same vein as This is Going to Hurt which is one of my favourite books. Sadly, this was not the case. 

It was interesting to see the inner workings of a second hand book store, such as going to peoples houses to value their book collection, how rare books are valued and even the impact Amazon has has on the high store book shop. I think everyone is aware that being able to buy online at often a cheaper price has definitely impacted the high street, but The Diary of a Bookseller details how bookstores themselves often have to rely on Amazon for their own online sales of second hand books which is such a double edged sword.

Sadly for me the content I wanted was not the main focus of the book like I thought it would be. There are a few funny customer stories here and there but not enough to hold my interest at all times. Lots of the pages are filled with details of when Shaun goes salmon fishing, or biking or boating, not things that care about or what compelled me to pick up this book in the first place.

Another slight niggle I had with this book is that at the start of each diary entry there is a books found number and a books sold online number. It isn't explained anywhere in the book what the books found number is about and I actually had to google it, turns out I'm not the only one who had this question too. For those of you interested, it means the number of books located in the store that they had managed to sell online as they can't always find what they have listed in the store. 

Overall I don't think this is a bad book at all and I did end up finishing it, it's just not what I was expecting and so I ended up feeling disappointed and a little bored by the content. I've seen some great reviews for this so don't let my review put you off if it sounds interesting, but for me this was a very average read. 


  1. Ah darn! I'm sorry this was a bit of a miss for you. I hope your next read is better! :)

  2. Non fiction isn’t really my thing. Great review though!

  3. the author taught you something - then they have served their purpose ;)

  4. It's a shame you didn't enjoy this as much as you had hoped. The premise sounded promising.
    Gemma @

  5. I am sorry that this was not more enjoyable. I find, non fiction can be that way.

  6. Shame it didn't work for you. I so want to read it though.

  7. It does look really interesting, sadly it didn't work!

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes


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