Bookseller

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Booksellers buy books from publishers or wholesalers and sell them to customers.

Salary range: £14,000 to £40,000

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How to become a bookseller

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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University

You may have an advantage when looking for work if you’ve completed a qualification at university, like a higher national diploma or a degree. Employers will accept any subject, although some may prefer English, humanities or the arts.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You can learn some of the skills you need for this job by doing a:

  • Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Retail Skills
  • Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills Sales Professional

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information

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Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through a retailer intermediate apprenticeship or a retail team leader advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

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Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs. You’ll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths. Retail, customer service or publishing experience will also be helpful.

You’ll need a broad range of reading interests and an enthusiasm for books.

You may need a particular qualification or understanding of a certain book type for some specialist bookshops. For example, an in-depth knowledge of comic art for a shop that sells graphic novels, or a background in classic literature for rare book sales.

More information

Career tips

You’ll need sound business skills and a good grasp of the publishing and bookselling industry, if you’re looking to open your own bookshop.

Further information

You can find more advice about bookselling and setting up your own business through the Booksellers Association.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • serving customers – taking payment, giving advice, answering enquiries and ordering in books 
  • stock control – assessing the market and ordering new stock 
  • admin tasks – accounting, distributing orders, arranging deliveries and dealing with returns

Working environment

You could work at a store.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

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Career path and progression

With financial backing and a lot of experience, you could open your own bookshop.

You could also work from home as a book dealer, or set up an online bookshop.