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Thoughts on Leaving the Bookstore

September 21, 2010

So, Saturday was my last day at my independent bookstore.  My husband and I move to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and I start anew.

I’ve worked at my bookstore for this past three  years.  It’s the first job I’ve had that felt’s right, like I could just keep on doing it forever.  I’ve always enjoyed reading, but working at my bookstore is what made me realize how important books are to me.  My job taught me to talk about books, to read widely, to keep up with the latest book news.  It sharpened me from a casual reader into an avid, insatiable one.  I owe to it the person I am today.

How do I feel about my departure?  I’m still figuring that out.

On the one hand, I am actually looking forward to taking a break.  As delicious as spending 40 hours a week fondling books can be, at times I felt overloaded.  Every third book I shelved was one I wanted to read.  Every day I talked with staff members and customers about their latest reads and added those to my list as well.  Countless new books are released every day, and there was no way I could keep up.  Sometimes it felt a bit like drowning, that constant deluge of pages with no time to catch my breath.  I admit I’m looking forward to dipping into my own collection for a change.  I’d like to read some of what’s on my shelf instead of being inundated with new, new, new.  Maybe tackle a classic, or some meatier nonfiction.

But of course, I’m sad to go.  After three years of being in-the-know regarding books, I feel a bit like my lifeline is being cut.  I loved knowing what was hot, what was about to be released.  I loved seeing customers’ eyes light up when I handed them a recommendation that’s just what they wanted.  I loved getting books into readers’ hands and being a part of something I believe in.  I will miss all that terribly.

The bright side, of course, is that, thanks to my accidental discovery of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I’ve found a community of readers and bloggers who are at least as passionate about books as I am.  Pardon the overdramatic simile, but it’s a bit like realizing someone has thrown you a life preserver just as you’re about to go under.  I no longer feel quite so much like I’ve been set adrift.  I know there are friendly, like-minded people out there who will help me fill my book daily requirements.  It’s a wonderful thing to know.

Will I find another job in a bookstore?  I get asked that a lot.  Honestly, I’m not sure.  For now, I plan to turn my attention to the world of book blogging and dive in.  Ready or not, here I come!

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22 Comments
  1. September 21, 2010 9:45 am

    i had to quit my bookstore job about a year ago and just like you, i felt weird about it. it seemed wrong. and yes, blogging about books does help.

    • Erin permalink*
      September 21, 2010 10:19 am

      I’m glad that blogging has helped for you! Do you ever feel like you’ll go back?

  2. September 21, 2010 12:49 pm

    It’s funny, because what you say about working in the bookstore (“My job taught me to talk about books, to read widely, to keep up with the latest book news. It sharpened me from a casual reader into an avid, insatiable one.”) is exactly how I feel about blogging. That’s what book blogging has done for me. It’s wonderful. 🙂

    • Erin permalink*
      September 21, 2010 2:29 pm

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Your experience makes me feel like the switch won’t be so hard after all. It’s quite encouraging!

  3. September 21, 2010 2:17 pm

    Oh, I want a bookstore job; the way you describe it makes it sound, well, just like home. But I can totally understand feeling flooded by books. Good luck in your new ventures, be it book blogging or a return to a bookstore. 🙂

    • Erin permalink*
      September 21, 2010 2:27 pm

      It’s funny, I simultaneously felt overwhelmed and at home! Thank you for your good wishes. I think either way I’ll be happy 🙂

  4. September 21, 2010 4:35 pm

    What a moving post. I can understand your sentiments about feeling overwhelmed: sometimes I stand in a bookshop feeling quite helpless at the huge amount of choice. I want to buy them all and take them to look after them. Hopefully blogging will help fill the gap you’re finding. I’ve found out about so many new authors (and even genres!) doing this, but can be quite selective in what comes across my plate 🙂

    • Erin permalink*
      September 21, 2010 5:01 pm

      I’m happy to know customers feel the same way sometimes in bookstores! I’m loving the blog world, because instead of wanting to read everything I see in the bookstore, it’s like I’m being handed pre-screened recommendations from people who read and love books. What’s funny is that I’ve probably added just as many books to my list since BBAW started as I did at work during the same time period. I feel, though, that I can read them at my leisure, which is really nice. And I like knowing there’s a community out there who will discuss them with me when I do get around to reading them!

  5. September 21, 2010 4:40 pm

    Oh wow, what a huge change, best of luck with the move and starting afresh in a new place 🙂

    The bookshop thing sounds just wonderful, and so many times I’ve fantasised about being so surrounded by books, or owning a second-hand book shop or something. The funny thing is, that I have a job that is so far from being ‘booky’ that there are really barely any big readers among my colleagues at all. Being so deprived of creativity and book-talk at work has kind of fuelled my passion for it at home!

    But either way, I definitely share your appreciation for book blogging. It’s wonderful to read other people’s thoughts and just be around people who love books so much, even when it’s virtual! In fact, it’s possibly better, because you can always remember recommendations by bookmarking them…

    Anyway, best of luck, and I’m glad to have found your blog – look forward to seeing what you end up reading post-bookstore!

    • Erin permalink*
      September 21, 2010 5:08 pm

      Thanks for the luck 🙂 I’d never worked somewhere ‘booky’ before this job, and being around book people was definitely a huge plus. And yes, being able to bookmark reviews is so much better than emptying your pockets of a zillion tiny slips of paper (on which I have hastily scrawled partial titles and illegible author names) at the end of the day!

  6. September 21, 2010 6:42 pm

    Happy to hear that BBAW came just at the right time – life’s weird but good like that. Hope you find something rewarding soon after you move!

    • Erin permalink*
      September 21, 2010 11:13 pm

      So true. And thanks!

  7. September 22, 2010 6:48 am

    Somehow, whenever I think of not succeeding in my current plan for life, I always dream of working in a bookshop, but like you I would probably want to buy a third of the books there!

    I can understand you feeling sentimental over leaving, but I am sure you will find other things in your life that are worth diving into head first 🙂

    • Erin permalink*
      September 22, 2010 11:35 am

      I think I’ll find other things, too! Although if not, there’s always the backup bookstore plan… 🙂

  8. September 22, 2010 7:21 am

    I worked in a book store too for a while and loved it. I met the best people there, who have become some of my good friends (and both of my fellow bloggers at Lit Snit I met at the book store). I think it was terrible for my wallet though because I spent most of my paycheck there!

    I think book blogger feels very similar to working at a book store. It’s full of like-minded people who love talking about books and pop culture. I’m always learning something new from my fellow bloggers and finding great new books to read.

    Good luck with your move!

    • Erin permalink*
      September 22, 2010 11:38 am

      Thanks! I agree that my wallet did not benefit as much as it should have from my job. I couldn’t resist! I actually started Erin Reads not long after I started working at the bookstore, but I hardly ever posted. I think it was kind of book overload, talking books all day and then coming home and talking books online. So, I am looking forward to having more attention to give to Erin Reads and the book blogging community!

  9. September 22, 2010 9:07 am

    I left my bookstore job of 10 years a few weeks ago and it was really hard. I’ll miss the connections with the customers, the feelings of finding new books.

    Good luck on your new ventures, whatever they may be!

    • Erin permalink*
      September 22, 2010 3:00 pm

      Wow, 10 years… and I thought it was hard to leave after three! I hope you find something to fill the book void. You’re in my Google Reader now, so I’m looking forward to talking books with you! Best of luck to you as well, and thanks for stopping by!

  10. September 23, 2010 1:03 pm

    I sooooo wish I could work in a small, independent bookstore! It’s my dream. 😀 I’m praying that, when we move next year, we can move to some town that has a bookstore. At the moment, I live an hour away from any bookstores and don’t have a car (my husband uses ours to go to school). 😕

    Ah well… patience is a virtue, right?

    Good luck with your new endeavors!

    ~MizB

    • Erin permalink*
      September 26, 2010 12:46 am

      Wow, that would be so tough to be stranded without a bookstore or a car! It sounds like you get your reading done anyway, but you must really be looking forward to maybe having a local store sometime soon 🙂

  11. September 23, 2010 5:22 pm

    I can definitely see how working in a bookstore would be overwhelming! I hope your move is going well.

    • Erin permalink*
      September 26, 2010 12:45 am

      Thank you! The move did go well. Now for the unpacking…at least the books are mostly unpacked 🙂

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