In October and November, I had my work experience at Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop. Before arriving in Edinburgh, I was already interested in this bookshop, as it is a left-leaning independent bookshop. Their goal is to challenge the status quo and advocate for diversity, sustainability, free speech, and equality.
My aim for this work experience in a bookshop, was to find out what happens after a book is published. How do bookshops decide which books they want to have in their bookshop when they have so many choices? How do the books themselves influence their chance of being placed on a book shelf?
I was able to gain experience in different aspects of a bookseller’s daily work-life.
I curated the Young Adult Fiction section of the bookshop. My goal was to introduce more diverse books in this section. Not all the books that I wanted to purchase were purchased. There were several reasons for this. While choosing books, I found out that I could not get some of the books as they were not available in the UK. Another reason is that the cover was not suitable for the audience. A final reason, is that the price was too high.
In November, the bookshop hosted the Edinburgh Radical Book Fair. In preparation for this event, I helped copywrite some parts of the flyer and assisted with the flyer’s design. During the book fair, I also got my first experience in chairing a discussion — I chaired the discussion on Political Multiculturalism and Immigrant Communities.
Further, I gained experience in retail and customer service. Using a cashier is really confusing at the beginning! Talking with customers about books is one of my favourite activities at the bookshop. It’s exciting to discuss books with them, and it’s so rewarding when someone decides to choose a book because you have recommended it to them.
Now, that my work experience has finished, I’ll be continuing to work at the bookshop as a bookseller.
About the author
I’m Sinead, an MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. I work part-time as a bookseller at Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop. My blog Huntress of Diverse Books focuses on reviewing and promoting diverse books. I’m also a co-host at Lit CelebrAsian, an initiative aiming to uplift Asian voices in literature.