Bookselling as an Art & Science

Today’s op-ed piece by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, “Don’t Dismiss the Humanities” is a reminder that we need diversity in our lives … from decisions we make in government, business and non-profit organizations to our own lives and relationships. Especially in today’s world where conflicts are escalating, disease is spreading, and there’s rising concern about our ability to create peace, live safely, and use our resources wisely, we need literature and philosophy, art and poetry for perspective – and hope.

Books in a fieldVisit a bookstore and you’ll find artists and writers, readers and philosophers. In the back room, we’re busy with the science of electronically sending purchase orders, analyzing section reports, and assessing our profitability, but there are so many aspects of the business that are purely from the heart. Discovering an amazing new writer during a discussion with a publishers sales rep, picking up and flipping through the pages of a beautiful new book, writing a review for the store’s newsletter or a shelf-talker for a favorite title, and of course, suggesting books to customers are constant activities that happen every day.

If you’ve been thinking of leaving your career to open a bookstore and want this kind of balance in what you do for a living, keep exploring a career in bookselling. For those of us who enjoy the arts, but need to earn an income, have business skills yet want each day to be filled with interesting, meaningful conversations, owning a bookstore provides all of this. Success in life and work has many definitions. I agree with Nicholas Kristof, the humanities are to be valued.

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