Interview with a Book Seller

Being relatively new to the book selling industry, we thought it would be fun to do a mini interview about our experience so far!

Here are our honest answers to a couple of book shop related questions. 

Westwood Books Paul and Heather Thomas

What was it like taking over a book shop during a pandemic?

Paul: Worrying but exciting!

Heather: Definitely a bit nerve wracking. We'd been working so hard towards it and suddenly nothing was certain. It's been quite a juggle but we're still glad we've done it. 

What's been the biggest surprise about running a book shop?

Paul: Just how physical a job it really is. When you mention that you run a book shop most people think of someone sat at a desk reading away and serving customers but a lot of my day is spent hauling around heavy boxes of books and adding them to the shelves. 

Heather: There's always something to do. We have an endless task list and getting used to being able to switch off from it all at the end of the day has been a challenge.

Do you have a favourite part of the book shop?

Paul: Our New Naturalist shelves in the collectors room always look good. They contain a fantastic range of knowledge on natural history in four shelves. The covers and spines are really beautiful too. 

Heather: It's difficult to pick a favourite part but I definitely have favourite areas that I prefer to look after keeping stocked up and tidy! You can usually find me pottering in the children's areas, art and craft or the self help section. I also love looking after the gifts and card displays.

What's your best book shop memory?

Paul: When we reopened after the first Coronavirus lockdown it was so nice to have people in the shop and hear how pleased they were to be back in book shops again. That was definitely a memorable start to running the shop.

Heather: In 2018 I helped to organise the Sedbergh Book Town Festival and I spent a bit of time behind the desk at Westwood Books as part of that. I really enjoyed it and remember saying at the end of it all how wonderful it would be to work in a book shop for a living. That's pretty much how we ended up being here running the shop. So I do look back on that moment as something pretty pivotal. 

If you weren't running a book shop what would you do instead?

Paul: Go fishing! It's the one thing I haven't had chance to do since we moved to Cumbria almost six years ago. 

Heather: Running the book shop in the town where we live is pretty handy for family life but if I was able to do anything else I think I would either go and travel for a while or go back to school and study more. I love learning new things and would be an eternal student if possible! 

What are you reading just now?

Paul: I'm re-reading Shaun Bythell's Diary of a Book Seller. I can relate to so much of what he says and it's such a funny read.

Heather: I've just finished Max Porter's Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Although it's a short book, it was quite emotional. I've now started The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth which is about the Nordic countries and the reality of how they are versus what's reported in the media. It's a fascinating insight so far.