I posted yesterday about the joy I take in some (most) of my bookselling duties. I didn’t mean to be one-sided, but for me the joys far outweigh the difficulties. And even the difficulties contribute in the long run to my sense of appreciation for the fun stuff. So, in an effort to be even-handed, here’s a list of some of the less enjoyable duties of a bookseller.
Actually, there’s really only one not-very-enjoyable part of being a bookseller:
1) Packing, lifting, and hauling boxes upon boxes of books — when headed to and from book fairs and when purchasing books, particularly from a house call where the books are two stories or more above the ground floor.
Here are few other things I find bothersome about bookselling, but not bothersome enough to stop me from wanting to do what I do, despite the potential consequences:
2) Standing around at a slow book fair on its second (or third) day.
3) Trying to keep up with the pace of technology and trying to learn to use technology to my advantage.
4) Trying to keep up with the seemingly constant changes in international shipping methods and rates.
5) Having a “dry spell” in sales. That one is pretty depressing. For some booksellers I know, a long enough dry spell can make you re-evaluate your career choice.
6) Fitting enough hours in the day to research really interesting books.
7) Wanting to do everything now — sell books online, sell books by print catalogue, sell books at book fairs, open a shop, buy books, write about books, get educated about books at places like Colorado, University of Virginia, and UCLA — and only being able to accomplish some of that each year.
8 Making mistakes and sometimes looking foolish due to my inexperience.
9) Being told by people who know nothing about books that because we now need several hundred dollars and batteries to read (witness the Kindle), book collecting, and by extension, book buying, are dying. Why, they ask, would you want to join a dying industry? Well, I think that if you accept that premise (I don’t), that there is at the very least a certain beauty and a singular experience in being one of the few who is walking amongst the dinosaurs.
Bookselling isn’t easy. But neither is teaching high school and being a mother. However, all of these are among the most worthwhile and fulfilling jobs of my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.
See you in the stacks!