One Year Later

PPBSOne year ago today — May 8, 2017 — was my first day as a bookseller at Potts Point Bookshop.

I’ve had a tremendous time here, and I continue to be blessed — I know, I know; groan —  each and every day for getting to do what I do for a living, with the amazing people I work beside. I’d like to think that I’ve contributed — or rather, perhaps, am in the process of contributing — something meaningful to the shop and its community; something that’s made, or will make, the shop better; something that’s made its customers happier, that keeps them coming back in droves.

But I don’t want my first anniversary at Potts Point Bookshop to be about me. I’d rather it be about the people I surround myself with every day, who make me who I am, and the bookshop what it is. While my first anniversary is significant to me, obviously, in the grand scheme of things, I’m just a footnote in the shop’s illustrious history, which has achieved such grandeur in the Potts Point community and the publishing industry thanks to the following people, whose mere presence makes it a delight to come into work every day.


I had never met Anna prior to sitting down for coffee with her when I interviewed for the job at Potts Point Bookshop, but we immediately hit it off, as only booksellers and book lovers can. The fact that Anna is so well-respected not only among our staff and the local community, but around the industry, speaks volumes about the kind of person she is. Anna saw promise in me and has allowed me to expand my role at the bookshop, creating the nascent Crime Book Club, and letting me accompany her to a variety of events. Maybe she saw a hunger in me, the want and drive to do things outside of the stuff I was already comfortable with doing; whatever it was, she has made it happen for me, and continues to do so. I will always be thankful to her for that. Anna’s guidance and words of support have turned me into a far better bookseller than I was when I arrived. She has always made me feel welcome, respected and appreciated. She always has words of wisdom to put my mind at ease when it needs soothing, and encouragement when it’s time to do the next big thing. Her guiding hand has been instrumental for me.


Tim has been at Potts Point for some time, so when he has an opinion on something, you want to listen, because he knows exactly what he’s talking about. This made me respect him from the get-go, and even as a newbie, Tim made me feel welcome and was always friendly to me. He made me feel at home even during that weird period as I transitioned from one bookshop to another, and had to learn the “Potts Point Way” of doing things. As the months have passed, Tim and I have grown closer, talking about a variety of subjects and having a great many laughs in the process. I’ve always appreciated his immense knowledge, his experience, and his sense of humour. More than anything, I appreciate all of the guidance he’s given me over the last 12 months.


Naomi is probably the person I’m most comfortable around at Potts Point Bookshop, as evidenced by my uncanny ability to break into a soliloquy about whatever dorkish subject that takes my fancy, or hum tunelessly when a late-nineties pop song comes to mind. Always accommodating and accepting of me and my little quirks — and my questionable culinary skills — Naomi’s quiet determination and dedication to our customers has made me rethink the way I go about some things, and her book knowledge is inimitable. She’s also just a genuinely good person, and someone who is a pleasure to be around. 


Kate is the bookseller I want to be. A voracious reader, like me, but whereas that’s the end of my skill set, Kate is capable of coherent thought, and eloquent, intelligent discourse about the books she’s read. Always ebullient, a delight to be around, and always on-point with her recommendations, although we only sporadically work together, I’m thrilled every time we share counter space together, because one day, surely, I’ll inherit some of her natural verve. Of if not, being in her presence makes me a better bookseller.

Thank you!


Review: The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

large_9781781258620It’s a weekly struggle explaining to non-book-industry folk exactly what I do for a living. In publishing circles, bookselling is a fine, respected career. It’s a fundamental part of the cycle, after all: we put books in the hands of readers. But there’s more to it than that; a workload people not “in the know” don’t understand.

When I explain I spent the day shelving books, these outsiders picture me lackadaisically wandering the shop, humming a tune, easing books into their rightful slots, not cringing at how tightly packed everything is. When I say the shop was busy, they imagine my reading behind the counter being interrupted by an enquiring customer, when in fact, I don’t know a bookseller who has time to read a single sentence during trading hours. Never mind the need to chase customer orders, dealing with short-supplied deliveries, arranging displays, meeting reps and authors, finding books for the eleven members of a customer’s family, each with a specific interest, all of which need to be gift-wrapped in a specific kind of wrapping paper, with a specific colour of ribbon, with knots that’re bulky, but not obtrusive, and oh, they needed to be wrapped ten minutes ago, because they’re parked illegally, and oh shit, is that the parking inspector?!

Suffice to say, I love my job. But explaining its intricacies and exasperations isn’t easy. Which is why Shaun Bythell’s book is so delightful. It encapsulates many of the daily episodes that make up the sum total of my life, and the challenges faced by booksellers across the world by multinational corporations. But more than that, it’s a portrait of the author’s small town of Wigtown, and its quirky community. The way he describes it, it’s a place I very much want to visit.

The Diary of a Bookseller details a year in the life of Bythell, who is the owner of Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop. His sharp-tongued, frequently hilarious analysis of his customers had me guffawing on the train, stifling the laugh of a madman. He explains the delights and hardships faced by booksellers, and reminded me why I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, and steeled me for the fight ahead, as the big boys move in and try and take over. Funny, endearing, inspiring; for any book lovers out there, this is is a must.

ISBN: 9781781258620
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publication date: June 2017
Dimensions: 216mm X 135mm
Produced in: United Kingdom
Availability date: October 2017
Bind: Hardback
Pages: 320