A career as a bookseller allows you to engage with people form different walks of life on a daily basis. In this article, André gives us a sneak peek into his job role.
André is a bookseller currently working at an unconventional bookshop in the heart of Cape Town. He gave us glimpse into his work day, so we could learn more about the day-to-day experience of his life in the bookstore industry.
From as young as he can remember, books have always been part of André’s life. His grandfather was a printer and his father, a librarian at a university in Cape Town. So it was only fitting for André to follow in his family’s footsteps. “I got a holiday job at Clarke’s Bookshop when I was sixteen, and have been working here on and off since then.”
The role of a bookseller is to sell books to people and help customers to find books and writings they are looking for. Booksellers are also responsible for making suggestions and giving their expert advice on the books and products they have in store. “It’s important to have a diverse range of interests so that you can engage with the books that you find and give informed recommendations to your customers,” André says.
We asked André what he loves about his job, and this is what he had to say: “I love the environment. Being surrounded by books every day is an incredible privilege. I feel as though I am constantly absorbing knowledge just by having books all around me.”
André also loves that his job role gives him the opportunity to meet and interact with people from various walks of life everyday. “People in the book trade are generally nice, interesting and engaging people who are passionate about what they do. We have a whole range of customers coming to the shop - from academics, journalists, poets, politicians and tourists - but everyone has a common thread of a love for books, so you always have something in common and something to talk about.”
Something that really drives André’s passion for the industry is finding rare books. “Each book has a history and a story, and it’s incredibly interesting to do the research and find the story of a particular book,” he says.
André suggests that those who want to break into the industry need to have a passion for bookselling, as well as a lot of drive and energy. "You need to make the job role work for you," he advises. "Being a bookseller is not about sitting behind a desk and waiting for the next customer to walk through the door. You have to constantly search for interesting and exciting books to sell so that you have stock that will set you apart.”
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