Confessions Of A Bookseller By Shaun Bythell: Book's Review and Summary

Review of Confessions of a Bookseller (9781567926644) — Foreword Reviews

Confessions of a Bookseller is a memoir written by Shaun Bythell, a British bookseller and author. The book provides an inside look into the day-to-day life of a bookseller and the trials and tribulations that come with the job. Bythell lets readers in on the highs and lows of book selling, as well as some of the eccentric customers that frequent his store, The Bookshop. This honest and candid account of a bookseller’s life is both entertaining and informative, and provides readers with a rare glimpse into the world of book selling.

Main Themes and Ideas

One of the main themes of the book is the decline of the independent bookstore in the face of large chain stores and online retailers such as Amazon. Bythell shares his experiences of trying to keep his bookstore afloat in an increasingly competitive and difficult market. He explores the challenges of managing inventory, dealing with difficult customers, and balancing the books to stay afloat.

Another theme of the book is the importance of reading in our lives. Through his own love of books, Bythell demonstrates the importance of reading and its ability to enrich our lives. He also emphasizes the role that independent bookstores play in fostering a love of reading and the need for readers to support these stores in order to keep them alive.

Critical Evaluation of Writing Style

Bythell’s writing style is engaging and witty, making for a highly entertaining read. His descriptions of the eccentric customers are amusing and often hilarious, while his insights into the book industry are insightful and informative. He has a knack for capturing the essence of a person in just a few short paragraphs, creating vivid portraits of the people he interacts with on a daily basis.

However, at times the book can feel disjointed, with Bythell jumping from one topic to another without much warning, and some of the stories and anecdotes can feel repetitive. Additionally, his sometimes biting commentary on customers and industry practices can come across as snarky and dismissive, which may turn off some readers.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the strengths of Confessions of a Bookseller is Bythell’s ability to convey the unique and often quirky personalities that can be found in the book industry. His descriptions of the customers who frequent his store are humorous and insightful, providing readers with a glimpse into the often bizarre world of book selling. Additionally, his emphasis on the importance of independent bookstores is a powerful message that readers will likely take to heart.

However, the book’s disjointed structure and repetitiveness can be a drawback for some readers, and Bythell’s sometimes snarky attitude towards customers and industry practices may be off-putting. Additionally, while the book provides an entertaining inside look into the book industry, it doesn’t delve deeply into larger issues such as the impact of technology on book selling or the decline of reading in our society.

Comparison to Other Works in the Genre

Confessions of a Bookseller can be compared to other memoirs that explore the book industry such as The Diary of a Bookseller by the same author, and The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee. While Bythell’s book is less focused on the technical aspects of book selling and more on the day-to-day life of a bookseller, it still provides readers with valuable insights into the industry. Additionally, Bythell’s witty and engaging writing style sets it apart from other books in the genre.

Overall Impression and Recommendation

Overall, Confessions of a Bookseller is a highly enjoyable and entertaining read. Bythell’s candid and humorous account of his life as a bookseller is both informative and engaging, and provides readers with a rare glimpse into an industry in decline. While the book’s disjointed structure and repetitive nature can be a drawback for some readers, its witty and engaging writing style more than makes up for these shortcomings. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in books and the book industry, as well as to those looking for an entertaining and thought-provoking read.


Q: Is Confessions of a Bookseller available in eBook format?

A: Yes, the book is available in eBook format on Amazon and other online retailers.

Q: Is Confessions of a Bookseller suitable for all ages?

A: While the book contains some adult language and themes, it is generally suitable for mature audiences.

Q: Are there any other books by Shaun Bythell that I should read?

A: Yes, Bythell has also written The Diary of a Bookseller which is a companion book to Confessions of a Bookseller and provides further insights into the life of a bookseller.

Q: Where can I buy a copy of Confessions of a Bookseller?

A: The book can be purchased from most major bookstores, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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