Edinburgh's Radical Bookshop
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We're hiring! Are you our new bookseller?

Mairi

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VACANCY: BOOKSELLER at Lighthouse - part-time, permanent, starting May/June 2022

Who we are:

Lighthouse is a queer-owned and woman-led independent community bookshop. We are an unapologetically activist, intersectional, feminist, antiracist, lgbtq+ community space. We are passionate about books, and using books and literary spaces to change the world for the better.

What the job is:

Bookseller; 16hrs/Week; Weekend/Evening & Event Work; £9.90 p.h.

This position covers a whole host of roles - primarily operating on the shop floor.

This job will usually involve a full 8-hour weekend shift (usually on a Saturday) and two shorter (4-hour) weeknight shifts covering shop closing/events/bookstalls.

We're more than just a shop, so although this is an entry-level retail position, there will be much opportunity to learn on the job and further develop bookseller skills and discover the tricks of the (book) trade.

A (non-exhaustive) list of tasks:

  • Primarily, this role is sales-based; you’ll need to be comfortable talking to customers, and recommending books across a wide range of topics.
  • Managing customer service emails and solving problems for customers.
  • Utilising book management software to receive & shelve book (lots and lots of books).
  • Assisting with the logistics of events e.g. reorganising bookshop furniture, welcoming readers & authors, and (excitingly!) hosting them.
  • Cash-handling and use of EPOS software.
  • Opening and closing up the shop.

Please note: we are a small team within a fast-paced, customer focused environment, so you will also be expected to do your part to maintain the shop. This includes topping up displays and alphabetising shelves as well as cleaning (e.g. sweeping, mopping, dusting, and disposing of rubbish).

Crucial things to be aware of:

  • The team holds many different opinions on many different issues and that diversity of viewpoints is central to being a dynamic, engaged bookshop serving many readers - we do however have strong company values and operate a safe spaces policy (here) , that we expect all our staff to embrace and adhere to.
  • We have two major festival periods in August (Book Fringe) and November (Radical Book Fair). Due to the further demands of these periods, no holidays can be taken in those months. If wanted, there will be lots of opportunities to increase hours in those times. Similarly, we often require our booksellers to work throughout the busy Christmas period.
  • This particular role is physically demanding, do check out our accessibility information for more context on this.

What we are looking for in a bookseller

Essential:

  • A passionate & voracious reader.
  • Have excellent interpersonal & communication skills for a public-facing role (for example have a welcoming manner, be at ease talking to a variety of different readers in different contexts, communicating clearly and calmly when problem solving, knowing when & how to cut short a long chat with a browser so you don’t fall behind on other tasks).
  • Committed to communicating honestly, openly and consistently.
  • Flexible, proactive and motivated (sorry to inform you that booksellers do not in fact sit behind a counter reading all day…)
  • Computer literate - the role involves searching databases, using various on- and off-line programmes, and use of Slack & Google Drive (including Sheets). A good eye for detail is essential.
  • A team player & keen collaborator. Though you’ll often be on shift alone or with one other person, you’ll be working in tandem with 6 other booksellers who will share many of the same responsibilities, some of whom work remotely.
  • Good at multitasking as you will have to manage multiple tasks at the same time while facing regular interruptions from browsers.
  • Conscientious - we don’t expect you to take your work home with you, though we do need you to be all-in when you are at work. It takes a lot of love and dedication to keep a wee indie like ours thriving, and delivering the best we can to our community!

Desirable

  • Demonstrable knowledge of wider literary culture and current social justice movements.
  • Experience in a customer service role.
  • Good spatial awareness & sense of aesthetics (useful for bookstalls in varying venues, and the creation of displays in the shop).
  • Some experience in aspects of radical politics and campaigning.
  • Be a quick learner, comfortable being thrown in the deep end - book stalls tend to be done solo so you’ll need a good head for problem solving & working with new people in new spaces.
  • Experience with trade software (eg Gardlink/Booksolve/Batchline).
  • Experience with social media & design (eg Canva).
  • Experience working in events.
  • Copywriting skills.
  • Some obscure talent or book interest that will impress that random customer who shares just that interest, about once a year.

Accessibility

  • The shop itself is split between the shop floor (2 steps to access from pavement) and the basement office and toilet, which are down a narrow spiral staircase. Our external events take place in locations of varying accessibility around the city (including outdoors in our own garden). The toilet is downstairs, down a narrow spiral staircase.
  • While on shift in the shop your day is split between moving around the shop shelving books - which sometimes requires using a step ladder - and standing/sitting on a high stool behind a till.
  • For event set-up we move dozens of chairs from our basement up and down a narrow staircase and have to move around quite a few of our bookcases.
  • You’ll need to be able to cope with sorting, packing and unpacking boxes; some heavy lifting is required when receiving and transporting boxes of books to external events.
  • The environment of the bookshop is ever-changing and can be quite fast-paced with an evolving set of daily priorities to balance.
  • Communication: we’re all wired differently and communicate differently, so what we value is openness and compassion.
  • We do have a bookshop dog, Artemis, who is regularly in the bookshop interacting with customers. She is hypoallergenic and good-natured (she has been in the shop since she was 10 weeks old), slim but tall. It is at times unavoidable to have her in the shop, but she can always be tied up if around nervous browsers (or booksellers).

Inclusivity

The book trade is overwhelmingly white, and middle class. Bookshops are a great entry point for publishing and other trade work, so as radical booksellers we’re committed to disrupting existing hierarchies and networks of exclusion wherever we can.

We are particularly interested in hearing from candidates who are habitually underrepresented in the book trade, notably book lovers who are working class and care experienced, neurodivergent, Black, Asian or from an Ethnic Minority in the UK, GRT, and/or Queer!

Our own team cuts across different class, educational and ethnic backgrounds. Most of us are queer; some of us have disabilities or chronic conditions and we have booksellers of varying faiths (and none). We all love books, and we all want to make a difference!

Please do let us know if you'd like clarity on any of the above!

HOW TO APPLY: Closing Date Wednesday 4th May (let’s say by midnight)

Please email Mairi & Jim at books@lighthousebookshop.com, with the subject line BOOKSELLER JOB.

Please include the following 4 elements:

1) A few sentences on why you think you’d be a good fit for Lighthouse. It's always nice to know what kind of books you read or issues your passionate about (max 300 words).

2) A breakdown of relevant past employment,education or complimentary work placements & experience. This can be a CV, or you can list these in direct response to the skills & experience we’re looking for in the above specification.

3) An acknowledgement that you have read and accept our safe spaces policy as well as the hours & tasks outlined for the role.

4) The name you'd like us to use for you, and your pronouns (sorry if this sounds super obvious).

If you’re more comfortable sending in a video application covering the above that’s also fine, (must be no longer than 5 minutes). If you have sent a speculative application in the past and want to be (re)considered for this role, please do re-apply!

THE PROCESS:

  • Closing date is May 4th.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be contacted on May 6th and invited to interview. We will contact all those whose applications were unsuccessful - so you will know. Though we’d also love to offer full and considered feedback to all applicants we simply don’t have the time or resources to do so; thanks for understanding!
  • Interviews will take place - ideally in person - on 9th & 10th May.

We aim to offer the position by May 15th, with an ideal start date towards the end of May, with some flexibility.

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