How It Works: Bookstore 101

Hello readers!

Over the past year, we have heard from dozens of you about how much you love and miss being in a bookstore. And we get it–that’s why we chose to work at a bookstore! But there are a few things that people don’t know about what it means to work in a bookstore, and in particular, an indie bookstore. So, here are a few things that you may not know about what it’s like to work at a place like Old Firehouse Books!

  1. Let’s address the biggest misconception: yes, we do get free books but no, we don’t get to just sit around and read all day. When we are at the store, there is a lot to do! Between answering phones, helping customers, creating displays, packaging orders, processing web orders, receiving shipments, and stocking shelves–there’s no time to just kick back while at work.
  2. Although we don’t read on the job, it is part of our job to read. And, one of the best parts about this job is that we get to read whatever we want. We are not obligated to read certain books just because they are best sellers or because they are a celebrity book club pick. And although many of those are fantastic reads, our staff is given the freedom to read what they like so that we can give authentic recommendations to you. Take a peek at our staff shelves the next time you’re in the store!
  3. We don’t really care what you read, we just want you to read! So many people are limited by the idea that they should be reading certain books and they never really discover what they actually love to read. We see it happen all of the time–a kid wants to read a graphic novel, but the parents say “that’s not a real book.” (It is a real book.) Or, a person is perusing the SciFi section, but buys a 600 page classic instead (not that there’s anything wrong with a 600 page classic, if that’s what you like!).  At OFB, we want people to love to read. So please don’t be embarrassed to ask if we have the newest Amish romance book or a book that a trashy TV show is based on–we are happy that you want to read!!
  4. We have a book buyer who single-handedly buys every book that you see on the shelves. You’ve probably met Allison–that’s her! Yes, she goes through lists and lists of books that are set to come out and chooses books that she thinks will sell, books that she knows will sell, and books that she hopes will sell. This also means that she knows at least a little something about every book in the store.
  5. We process every order by hand. That means that a bookseller has gathered and/or ordered books for each order that we receive. This also means that because we are human, we do sometimes make mistakes.
  6. Unlike larger stores, we don’t really have a “back” area where we have extra copies of books. 99% of the time, what you see on the shelves is what we have. We don’t have the storage space to accommodate having 5-10 copies of each book.
  7. And lastly…we do not own any public parking spaces in Old Town. We know that parking is hard, but unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it.

Visiting us online is still the safest way to shop, but if you just can’t resist the allure of a bookstore, we are open to limited browsing.


Happy reading!

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