So You Want to Be a Bookseller

PSB isn’t hiring at the moment, but you’re always welcome to send us your resume, which we’ll keep on file for when we have an opening.

What does being a bookseller involve?

·        Providing great customer service—online, by phone, and in person.

·        Knowing the inventory—what we have and what’s on the way.

·        Keeping the shelves tidy—and, just as important, alphabetized.

·        Working the cash register—in the store and at off-site events.

·        Other duties as required—sometimes you run the vacuum, and sometimes you restock the bookmark supply.


Booksellers do not actually have time to read on the job—if there’s downtime at the counter, there are always inventories to be taken, books to shelve, or surfaces to dust. (We really mean it. Remember the buckets of water in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? That, but with dust, is one of the dark secrets of bookstore maintenance.)

What does it take?

·        Previous library or bookstore experience is always a plus, as is experience in other retail settings.

·        Enthusiasm for books. If you don’t like them very much, this is going to be a difficult job. You don’t have to pore over Shelf Awareness, Publishers Lunch, and PW Daily every day while keeping up your LibraryThing account and interacting with bookish Twitter, but you need to be interested in what’s on the shelves. Also, we carry a wide variety of titles and genres. Even if your preference is for romance and business books, you’ll need to be familiar with the graphic novel section.

·        Computer skills. You don’t have to be an expert (and we’ll teach you about Wordstock, our not-always-intuitive POS system), but you should be comfortable with the basics, including search.

·        Attitude is key. You’ll have to be polite—enthusiastic, even—when someone comes looking for a book you abhor. And because we’re part of the diverse Cambridge/Somerville community, PSB welcomes customers of every race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, cultural background, and political affiliation.

·        Flexibility. While we do our best to accommodate everyone and set schedules well in advance, but things happen. The willingness to help out on occasion is appreciated.


What do you get?

No one gets rich in independent bookselling, but we offer competitive salaries, and booksellers who work at least 29 hours a week are eligible for our health insurance plan.

In addition to legal tender in the US and its territories, you’ll also receive

·        A staff discount on just about everything we carry

·        A staff discount at Café Zing

·        Vacation and sick time based on hours worked

If this sounds appealing, we’d love to hear from you. Email your resume to, along with answers to these questions:

·        What was the last great book you read?

·        What book would you recommend to someone who loved Patrick O’Brian’s novels and Game of Thrones?

·        What was a recent memorable customer service experience?

·        How would you make a recommendation to a customer whose favorite book is one you despise?