by Shaun Bythell
Publication Date: November 5, 2020
Publisher: Profile Books
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.
Having read his first two books, I was surprised when this arrived at how small it was. But good things / small packages and all that. It may be a small, slim volume, but it’s spot on and hilarious. I’ve never owned a bookshop (yet) but I recognise these people from time spent in bookshops – and a library or two – everywhere. I found myself reading most of it aloud to my husband, and we took turns naming those we know who fit Bythell’s descriptions a little too well, inside or outside a bookshop.
MT self-identified with type 3 of the Homo qui desidet or Loiterer, sub-type The Bored Spouse (though in his defense, he just buys his books way too fast). I was relived not to have identified with the American sub-type of Family Historian, since I leave all that stuff to my mom, who is a first generation American, so comes by it honestly, at least. I’d like to think I fall firmly in the bonus category of Cliens Perfectus as I generally enter a bookshop, talk to nobody, browse everything, and almost never leave without a stack, and the idea of haggling is one I find personally abhorrent, but then, doesn’t everyone think they’re the Perfect Customer?
All in all, a fun way to spend a few hours as long as you have a healthy sense of humor about humanity.