I can’t remember when I stumbled across this news story, but I thought it so cool, I just had to report on it here. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but in Frankfort, Germany there exists a bookselling school. Apparently, one can not become an official bookseller without completing a three-year program at the school, which involves going to classes and working 40 hours a week. The classes involve more than creating pleasing display tables though; students study economics, math, history, literature and more, and are tested in all these subjects and various facets of the book industry in order to graduate. To help these students and their bookselling peers around the world stay connected, the International Congress of Young Booksellers exists as a means of networking and discussing the book trade.
As a bookseller myself, I was astonished that such an institution existed but pleased knowing that my profession is respected worldwide. Working with books has always been somewhat revered the States–whether you’re an editor, writer or publisher–yet it seems that booksellers have been forgotten. Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert or a “professional” by any means (I’ve only been working at Half-Price for four months), but I know many people who have devoted their lives to this industry and I’m awed by their intelligence and wisdom. Remember, this is a business where you won’t make a lot of money, so a passion for literature and reading is an absolute must. Just like editors at major publishing houses, you must be driven by a desire to bring quality literature to the masses. Plus, with the bookselling industry being overrun by technology and e-books, you must have all the adroitness of a seasoned salesperson. Marketing associates and senior editors claim to know what customers want: booksellers have to know.
I don’t know if I’ll be a bookseller all my life, but I’m proud to be counted among their ranks. There are no Americans in the International Congress of Young Booksellers, but it’s good to know there are others somewhere in the world who are just as proud.