Be a Bookstore Clerk

By Eric Hammer

If you love being around books, you may want to consider becoming a bookstore clerk. Bookstore clerks work in both local and national book shops and they help customers to find just the book they are looking for.

The best bookstore clerks tend to love books and be lifelong readers themselves, making them excellent guides to help customers find just the right book for their own needs. Bookstore clerks also tend to be aspiring writers and journalists as the job allows for plenty of down time to write.

Finally, consider becoming a bookstore clerk if you are going to college. Not only will the environment in a book store be conducive to studying during your down time, but you will also have access to books at a discount.

Now for the bad news: book stores as we know them, i.e. the big chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders are a dying breed. Three phenomena have contributed to their demise: online sales from companies like, the growth of the ebook market (Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony Reader et al) and discount chains like WalMart offering best sellers at heavily discounted prices. Both of the major chains in the United States are in serious trouble and are closing stores.

That said, growth is likely to come from used book stores and specialty shops which provide a unique service to a niche who seek out the store from far and wide for their unique selection of books. Look for jobs with these kinds of stores as a bookstore clerk and consider learning more about "Print on Demand" technology, where a machine is installed in the bookstore and offers to print any book on the spot in minutes. While POD is still in its infancy, it is likely to herald the future of large bookstores along with sales of e-readers.

How Much Can You Make?

As a bookstore clerk, you shouldn't expect to earn much more than minimum wage. According to, the average wage varies from around $18,000 per year to about $29,000 per year.

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The more creative you are in being a bookstore clerk, the more likely you are to be hired and to be in demand. If you have a good grasp of public speaking skills for example, you may be able to earn extra money hosting readings of books (these are generally done by the author, though you'll be expected to offer the introductions).

You should also consider looking for work with a publisher of books as this will keep in the book world without being around the chain bookstores, which, as previously noted, are largely going the way of the Dodo Bird.

Consider also working in libraries and in religious bookstores in order to increase your available job opportunities. Note however that working in a library will require you to hold a Master's Degree in Library Science.

Qualifications / Requirements

While there are no formal requirements for being a bookstore clerk, it is a good idea to have a love of books and reading. Those who genuinely enjoy being around books will find the work more enjoyable than those who are doing it just because it pays the bills. In other words, love what you do or find a different job.

First Steps

Start by visiting local bookstores and asking if they are hiring. Have a resume ready to show the owner or manager. Look presentable when you drop by and be prepared to talk about why you want to work in a book store.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about becoming a bookstore clerk:

Bookstore Lore: An amusing blog on being a bookstore clerk.

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