Job type


£14k - £40k

Typical salary

39 – 41

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Sell books for a living, either as a generalist, or specialising in a particular genre or type of book
  • Option to work from home as a book dealer, or set up an online bookshop
  • You may be on your feet all day, and need to lift heavy boxes

Booksellers help customers locate titles and offer information and advice about different books that are available. A bookseller is also heavily involved in ordering and displaying stock, as well as working with publishing companies and representatives.


  • 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)
  • In a specialist bookshop, you may have extra duties, like working closely with teaching staff from local schools, colleges and universities to make sure you stock the right textbooks.
  • As a bookshop manager, you'll recruit and train new staff.


Booksellers may work in specialist book retailers or in retailers where books form only part of the stock. You can work for large retailers or small independent bookshops, and may specialise in a particular kind of bookselling, such as children's or antiquarian books. Evening and weekend work is likely. Overtime and part-time work is often available.

You'll need

This role is ideal for book lovers with good customer service skills and the ability to sell products and services.

There are no set entry requirements, but you'll usually need 5 GCSEs including Maths and English.

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.

You can also learn some of the skills you need for this job by doing a Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Retail Skills or Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills Sales Professional.

Another way you may be able to enter this role is through a retailer intermediate apprenticeship or a retail team leader advanced apprenticeship. To do this you'll usually need some GCSEs, usually including English and Maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship and 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.

You can also apply directly for a job as a bookseller, employers will usually expect retail, customer service or publishing experience and for you to have 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.


If you are working for a large chain of book stores then progression might involve specialisation in a specific subject area, managing a particular section or floor before moving into an assistant manager or store manager position. Booksellers may move into publishing where a bookseller's commercial knowledge of the book industry can be very useful, although this is a very competitive field.

With 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.