Most of the time, I was just moving “stock” about, taking maddening credit card orders over the phone, or walking people literally to alphabetised mass-market fiction. All of which required no interest in, let alone knowledge of, literature. To a middle-class nerd such as myself, discovering that working in a bookshop [cue poetic images of James Frain, or similar] was fundamentally no different from working in a Sports Direct or Tesco was about the most depressing thing imaginable. That, and waiting for the Sunday trains in winter.
It’s like the man warned us many centuries ago — render unto Commerce the things that are Commerce’s, and unto Hobby the things that are Hobby’s. No alchemist has discovered a means of combining the two. People who work in bookstores in order to live a literary life 24/7 come away traumatized after gazing long into the rictus grin of the bestseller list. People who keep blogs with visions of becoming Serious Writers, faced with loneliness and dwindling site-stat provisions, typically leave the Blogspot tent like Lawrence Oates, saying “I am just going outside and may be some time.” Lower your expectations to the ground, and suddenly the sky is within reach.