My Job in Five: Alex Call

My Job in Five: Alex Call

Describe your role. 
I am chief plate-spinner. As a one-man band I do everything from taking in deliveries to doing the finances, and, most importantly, packing up books to send out to customers. Each day starts with checking up on recently dispatched orders, then packing up any ones that are ready to go—if there’s any time left at the end of the day, that’s when I work on everything else.

What do you enjoy about your role?
I get to work with books every day, which is the dream, isn’t it? There are so many things I enjoy—for example I get to read and can legitimately claim I have to. But the biggest pleasure for me, and why I wanted to get back into bookselling, is the interaction with customers. There’s no better feeling than finding a book someone will enjoy and putting it in their hands.

What are you working on at the moment?
So many. I’ve got a big book of ideas that I’m still to find time to implement. The biggest project is the physical Bert’s Books bookshop, which has had a few delays because of coronavirus—but I’m still hoping it will be able to open later this year. I’m also working on launching a short story competition which I hope to have some more news about soon.

What skills do you need for your role?
The ability to multi-task is a huge one—and you have to be organised. A good memory helps as well, I deal with so many books and in order to give good recommendations, I have to know what they’re all about—and what they’re similar to. Being decisive is also really important—there’s not a huge amount of time to spend dithering—but that’s a bit easier when you work on your own.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
The industry as a whole sometimes feels like one big community, so I guess I’d say it’s important to engage in a way that feels right for you. Fortunately, these days you don’t have to be invited to the parties or live in London to do so—you can just pop onto Twitter and say “Hello”. Join in, a love of books binds us all together across every part of the chain.