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Job Title – Bookseller


A Bookseller sells books to people and help the customers of a bookstore (or any establishment that sells books) find the paperbacks, hardbacks and magazines that they’re looking for.

Typical Job Activities

Serves a range of customers
Deals with enquiries and identifying customer needs
Offers advice and recommending books, where appropriate
Maintains up-to-date knowledge of current titles and changes in the market
Undertakes bibliographic work using computer or print sources to identify and locate titles
Processes customer orders and book reservations
Deals with mail order, email and web-based orders - although this applies only in certain businesses
Handles payments by cash, credit card and using book tokens - in many shops this will require the use of electronic point of sale (EPOS) technology
Buys from catalogues and publishers' representatives - although the extent to which bookselling staff are involved in buying stock varies a great deal from shop to shop
Negotiates prices with sellers
Pays and processing invoices
Processes book deliveries and returns
Checks stock, books and, depending on the shop, other merchandise
Creates in-store and window displays
Maintains commercial awareness including identifying business and promotional opportunities
Helps with book events, including organising talks, signing sessions and reading groups
Liaises with teaching and library staff on set texts in academic shops
Liaises with other external account holders, for example schools, councils and companies
Reviews sales performance and meeting sales targets
Undertakes general housekeeping duties, such as unpacking, stock replenishment and tidying

Does this sound like a career for you? Browse jobs in the retail industry here.

Related Occupations

Sales consultant
Admin assistant
Store assistant
Customer service agent
Shop assistant
Sales representative

Educational Requirements

Senior Certificate with matric exemption for a BA degree in Literature or Library Sciences
Senior Certificate for a certificate in marketing or sales

Compulsory subjects: Languages
Recommended subjects: History

What natural skills and/or aptitudes do I need for this occupation?

Have excellent communication skills
Have the ability and confidence to deal with a range of people
Have organisational skills
Have good time management skills
Have a good teamworking ability
Be able to work under pressure
Have good general knowledge
Have an interest in books
Have commercial awareness
Have an interest in, and knowledge of, the bookselling sector
Be able to multitask

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Employment Opportunities


Market Competitiveness


Income Potential


Self-Employment Opportunities


International Employment Opportunities


Possible Employers

Book stores
Antique Book shops
Local and national press

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Relevant Contact Details

South African Booksellers Association

Southern African Book Dealers Association

Career Progress and Path

Experience in specific field
Work performance

Possible Career Paths

Specialist career in the specific field

Employment Stability

Moderately stable

Reasons to consider this career

I can be of service to people
I can work with languages
I can apply my special skills
I can communicate and interact with people