When visiting his Wigtown bookshop, which is a must see if you are in the area when it’s open again, I bought Sean Bythell’s first book, The Diary of Bookseller. I found it to be a very entertaining read so bought and enjoyed his second book, Confessions of a Bookseller too. When I spotted he had a third book out, The Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops, I had to get myself a copy of that too. The author is renowned for being somewhat scathing about his customers (although I found him very pleasant when I visited the shop), so I was interested to see just how he was going to label all those who come through his doors.
This is a short enjoyable read in which Bythell categorises all his customers into seven broad classifications (well, 8 or maybe 9 actually), much as if this was a science textbook. Within the classifications are further sub-categories. For example, under the Familia Juvenis (young family) section, you will find exhausted parents, abandoned child, aspirational parents and (thankfully) book-loving children. The senex cum barba (bearded pensioners) category made me laugh out loud, particularly reading about the author’s dad’s first ever innocent Google search! I am hoping that I would fit into the Cliens Perfectus category, hopefully into the homines normales sub-group. Certainly I’d never behave in the way some customers do! However, these less than perfect customers do make for some funny moments. Funny as a reader anyway, probably not as a bookshop owner.
I think that Shaun Bythell secretly likes most of his customers, but if they were all homines normales, then what would he have to write about? So thank goodness for the less than perfect customers who make this book so entertaining! The Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops is written with warmth and affection for bookshops and book-buyers and would be an ideal little gift for any book lover. I would, of course, encourage you to buy this from a bookshop if you can.
From the back of the book
In twenty years behind the till in The Bookshop, Wigtown, Shaun Bythell has met pretty much every kind of customer there is – from the charming, erudite and deep-pocketed to the eccentric, flatulent and possibly larcenous.
In Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops he distils the essence of his experience into a warm, witty and quirky taxonomy of the book-loving public. So, step inside to meet the crafty Antiquarian, the shy and retiring Erotica Browser and gormless yet strangely likeable shop assistant Student Hugo – along with much loved bookseller favourites like the passionate Sci-Fi Fan, the voracious Railway Collector and the ever-elusive Perfect Customer.
About the author
Shaun Bythell runs The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town. He has written three books, The Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller and Seven Kinds of People you Find in Bookshops.