Insights from an Ex-Barnes & Noble Bookseller

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I always had a romanticized notion of a bookseller. Whenever I imagined being a bookseller, perhaps a bit more often than a normal book-loving person, I would picture Kathleen Kelly in the movie You’ve Got Mail. Kathleen owned a small, cozy bookstore which immediately called to mind autumn (apple cider, pumpkin pie, little kids jumping in piles of leaves). This depiction was almost immediately corrected.

I worked about 30 hours every week during the busiest season of the year at one of the busiest Barnes and Noble locations (46 ST on 5th Ave). Being a bookseller is a customer service job. Most of my days as a bookseller I dealt with a stream of never ending customers. I had little or no time to explore the store, to comb the bookshelves or to even have a meaningful conversation with a person. Although to be fair, many people during the…

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