bookshop assistant bookshop manager
Retail and customer services

Career outlook for bookseller

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would promote and sell books to help people find stories they enjoy and expand their knowledge through reading.

You’d buy books from publishers or wholesalers and display them in the bookshop or online so that customers can look at them and buy them.

You’d promote the books and put the books out on shelves, tables and in the window displays. You’d answer customers’ questions and help them choose; they’ll expect you to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

You would:

  • Serve customers and take payments for books
  • Give advice, answer enquiries and order books for customers
  • Do stock control, decide what you think you can promote and sell and order new stock from catalogues and directly from publishers
  • Handle administration such as accounting, distributing orders, arranging deliveries and dealing with returns

You might work in a small independent bookshop, a large shop that is part of a chain, or a specialist bookshop selling, for example second-hand, religious or legal books.

You’d create a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere in the shop so people enjoy visiting the shop. You might also organise events like authors coming to read and sign their books.

Many bookshops now also use their website to sell books which are posted out or collected by customers in the store.

You might also need to sell other goods, such as e-book readers, stationery, cards and literary gifts.

In a specialist bookshop, you might consult with teachers from local schools, colleges and universities to make sure the shop stocks the correct text books, and has enough copies for the students.

As a bookshop manager you would recruit and train new members of staff.

Working conditions


A full-time bookseller normally works 37 or 38 hours a week, typically from 9am to 5pm, often including Saturdays. Some evening and weekend work is likely in order to meet customer needs. Overtime and part-time work is often available.


The work can be physically demanding, as it involves standing for much of the day and occasional heavy lifting.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Compromising
  • Cooperating
  • Reading
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail

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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


Entry requirements vary. Some employers ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4 to 6, but most ask for a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or degree (SCQF level 9/10) in subjects such as Literature or Business/Management.

Useful subjects

  • English and English-based subjects
  • Computing/ICT

Specialist bookshops in specific subjects may require a knowledge of that subject. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate a love of books and literature, customer service skills and organisational skills such as Skills for Work Retailing (SCQF level 5) or Higher National Certificate in Library and Information Science (SCQF level 7).