An account of Bythell's experiences at the helm of The Bookshop, Scotland's largest second hand bookstore—and the delightfully unusual staff members, eccentric customers, odd townsfolk and surreal buying trips that make up his life there.
At first glance, it is a grumpily amusing account of a life that many city dwellers would consider idyllic ... as with all the best funny writing, real anger simmers beneath. At its heart, this book is a furious missive from the frontline of the David and Goliath battle between small business owners and the accumulated forces of late capitalism. If you had any remaining doubts about the evils of Amazon, this book will lay them to rest ... Bythell is a true believer, who makes a passionate case for the importance of books – real, paper-and-board books, yellowed by time and handled, smudged and annotated by generations. This is, after all, a man who shot a Kindle and wall-mounted it – and after reading his wonderfully entertaining book, I’m just about ready to follow suit.
If you like your bookstores warm and cozy and your booksellers chatty, you might not like Shaun Bythell or his shop. You might, however, like his memoir, which is entertaining and dryly humorous ... Over the course of that year, not much happens ... And yet, the book is fascinating ... his gorgeous descriptions of the countryside reveal a deep love for that corner of Scotland.
'The customer is always right' has little currency with Bythell, who writes with biting humor about some of the shenanigans people try to pull as they bargain over items already deeply discounted ... Like most diaries, the book isn’t heavy on plot; threads of story appear and resolve ... Bythell is a man on a mission, and a year seen through his eyes convinces the reader that it is a mission worthy of undertaking.