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Booksellers buy books from publishers or wholesalers and sell them to customers. 

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 38 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English and maths.

Many employers will also expect you to have a higher education qualification like an HND or degree. You’ll need to be well read, and be enthusiastic and knowledgeable about books. 

Experience of working in retail sales, customer service or a library would be helpful.

To work in some specialist shops, like an art bookshop, you may need a related qualification, like art history.

If you’re looking to open your own bookshop, you’ll need sound business skills and a good grasp of the publishing and bookselling industry.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • good customer service skills
  • the ability to plan and organise events like book signings
  • the ability to sell, promote and market the products in your shop
  • IT skills

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • serving customers – taking payment, giving advice, answering enquiries and ordering in books 
  • stock control – assessing the market and ordering new stock 
  • admin tasks – accounting, distributing orders, arranging deliveries and dealing with returns

In a specialist bookshop, you may have extra duties, like working closely with teaching staff from local schools, colleges and universities to make sure you stock the right text books.

As a bookshop manager, you’ll recruit and train new staff.

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £17,000

Experienced: £20,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000

Some companies operate bonus schemes based upon sales.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37 or 38 hours a week, from 9am to 5pm, often including Saturdays. Evening and weekend work is likely. Overtime and part-time work is often available.

 You might be on your feet all day. You may be asked to lift heavy boxes. 

6. Career path and progression

With financial backing and a lot of experience, you could open your own bookshop.

You could also work from home as a book dealer, or set up an online bookshop.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018