Booksellers buy books from publishers or wholesalers and sell them to customers, usually in a shop. This might be a small independent bookshop, a large shop that is part of a chain, or a specialist bookshop selling, for example secondhand, religious or legal books.
As a bookseller, your duties would include:
- serving customers, dealing with money, giving advice, answering enquiries and ordering books for customers
- carrying out stock control, assessing the market and ordering new stock from catalogues and directly from publishers
- administrative tasks, which could involve some accounting, distributing orders, arranging deliveries and dealing with returns.
In a specialist bookshop, you may have extra duties such as working closely with teaching staff from local schools, colleges and universities to make sure the shop stocks the correct text books (and quantity) to meet student demand.
As a bookshop manager you would also be involved in recruiting and training new staff.
What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
You will usually need GCSEs (A-C) in English and maths to work as a bookseller. Some employers may expect you to have a degree or BTEC HND in a subject such as English, retail or business.
To work in some specialist shops, you may need a relevant qualification. For example, in an art book shop, you may need a qualification in art history.
You are likely to be at an advantage if you also have experience in a retail or customer service role.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
What further training and development can I do?
You will usually receive some on-the-job training from your employer, covering issues such as working the cash tills and ordering stock. Initially you will work alongside experienced colleagues, gaining knowledge of the range of literature sold by the bookstore. In some larger shops and chains you might follow a formal, structured training programme.
You may also be encouraged to work towards an NVQ qualification in a subject such as customer service.
With experience, you could take on more responsibility. Larger chains may offer a set promotional structure, for example, you could progress from sales assistant to assistant manager and manager.
If you join the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland (BA) you will have access to a wide range of information and support services.