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Love books? Working in a bookstore may be the perfect job for you! But the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores is dwindling, so perhaps an online bookstoreis in your future... we talked with an online bookstore clerk for you to find out how the job stacks up:

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field?

A: I am a clerk. It's for an online bookstore. I've done this for an online bookstore for 4 years. Before that, I did it for one year in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

Q: Would you describe the things you do on a typical day? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: I start my day by checking for orders that came in during the night. I make sure the payments processed correctly, and then I prepare a file for upload to update the online inventory. That's in case something went wrong and it didn't automatically update. I print the invoices and pull the orders. I have to wrap the books for shipping and label them, and then finish processing the orders in the inventory software. Then I answer any email or postal inquiries from potential customers. I answer the phone if anyone calls, but they usually email.

Then I begin appraising and listing new inventory that has come in. When I'm finished I create a file for upload to put the inventory online. If there are any really rare or collectible books in the upload, they usually sell quickly, so I try to get those ready for shipping that day if I am able. In the afternoon, I process any orders that have come in during the day and pull, wrap and ship those, as well. I have to make sure the inventory is updated again. If there is any extra time, I repair used books that need repairs before they can be sold.

People think I just sit around and read all day and wait for an email to come in, but this is not true in an online bookstore. I have to make customers happy, appraise books, lift heavy boxes of books and even restore books. It takes more skill than people know, and that doesn't include all the internet and computer stuff I do.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: Sometimes I think it would be a 10 because I really love working around books and I like it that I never do the same thing for too long at a time. It's always changing. Also, it's not a really hectic pace. But then I think about the pay and the total lack of benefits and that would rate at about a 2. I think that if I made more money and had benefits I would be a lot happier.

I worry about things the way they are. But I think that if I had the chance to earn a commission on the expensive books I sell when I email back and forth five times telling them which edition it is and what color the cover is, I would be more excited about my job. I also don't like it that I sometimes restore a worthless book into a valuable one but I only get a couple of dollars for that.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: It's being around books, especially the really old ones, that moves me. I just like touching them and being around them. I think if I owned the bookstore I could live happily ever after, even though it isn't my first choice.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: Well, I think the thing people find odd about me is that I have a genius-level IQ and I used to own my own business. So, clearly, I am underachieving. I think that makes my friends from when I was successful very uncomfortable. It probably makes my enemies ecstatic, though, so maybe it all evens out in the end.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: My boss needed someone with some sensitivity to repair books and some sense who could learn how to appraise them. I was working in a regular antique bookstore at the time, so he approached me. If I could do it differently, I would have taken some of the money I had saved from when my business was healthy and bought my own inventory and opened my own online bookstore.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this hard-learned lesson?

A: I mispriced about six first editions when I started out. They were older books and it can be hard to know when they are first editions. Instead of setting them aside for my boss to look at, I assumed they were later editions and priced them that way. It got caught because a collector who knew my boss called him and said that something looked funny in a new listing alert he had received. By then, two mispriced books had been sold, and they went for a fraction of their value. Now I am incredibly careful.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: I think it's that people really rely on us to create a comfortable experience for them, and when we do a good job of that they appreciate it and build trust in us and come back. The customer may not always be right, even though we have to act like they are, but they deserve to be treated fairly and helped to find what they need and want.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: There was a children's book from 1918, and it had the name and address of a boy in it. He had written a lot of stuff inside it, like his dreams and plans, and the name of his crush. So I searched the name and the town, and found out that this boy grew up and became a judge in his hometown. He got married and had kids, and there was even an obituary and a picture of his gravestone online. It made me feel really happy to know that this little boy, who wrote that this was his favorite book, and dreamed of being someone someday, got his wish.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I don't know what makes me get up and go to work each day. It's something inside me. When I was out of work, I found that I still got up every morning and made a plan for the day and "worked" at getting a job. I think it's just the way I am. Actually, I think there is honor in a day's work well done, regardless of the type of work or pay involved, so every day I work I feel very good and proud about it.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you really want to pull your hair out?

A: What really drives me nuts is when someone orders an antique book, with the publication date right in the listing, and then complains that the book is old. Another one that happens sometimes is that someone will buy a book that has damage or wear, and even though we described every minute flaw in detail, like we always do, they'll write or call complaining that the book has dog-eared pages or something, as though it was the first they ever heard of it.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

A: I don't think my job is very stressful. My boss thinks my pace is acceptable. He likes my work, and I don't really worry that he will let me go. I work days, so I have a very good work-life balance.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: Because I do appraisals and repairs, I make about ten dollars more per hour than most bookstore clerks or warehouse workers make. It isn't enough to do everything I want, but I can live modestly within my means, and I do.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I take a week in the spring and a week in the fall. Summer is a busy time for book sales. I would like to take two more weeks, but the work really builds up when I am gone, because my boss can't cover for me, and the temporary workers can't appraise or repair. Also, I only get paid for one vacation, so more would be hard to manage.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: You have to really know the antique and collectible book market. As far as I know, there is no formal course of study for that. You pick it up on your own. You need pretty good computer skills for an online store. You have to know how to repair and restore books. You have to be good with people. But success is based on the same things it is based on anywhere. It's all about punctuality, dependability, conscientiousness and a good work ethic.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Go to college. Study for a professional field. Be a doctor or lawyer.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: If I started now, in five years I could be finishing up my doctorate and looking for a place to do my post-doctoral work. That's where I would be if I could be anywhere I wanted to be.