Here in the Literary Hub office, we argue about books—and literary culture, and pop culture, and Dermot Mulroney/Dylan McDermott quite a bit. Probably more than is strictly necessary, if I’m being fair. But every once in a while, I like to take our internal arguments public—especially when they’re about which (fictional!) booksellers are best. After all, we take our booksellers pretty seriously around here.
Please note that, just like our definitive ranking of fictional librarians, these booksellers from pop culture (film! TV! books! comics!) are not being judged on their efficacy as booksellers, necessarily, or by their moral goodness, but by their general appeal. Does nostalgia and personal opinion factor in? You bet it does. Disagree? Feel free to re-rank (and add!) below in the comments.
50. Skyler Dayton, Stacked
Home bookstore: Stacked Books
Notable characteristics: I mean, it’s Pamela Anderson. There are many, many jokes about breasts in this show.
Bookselling philosophy: “I can’t believe how early you guys open. It’s like working on a farm.”
Can this show be redeemed? Christopher Lloyd and Marissa Jaret Winokur do their level best, but alas.
49. Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
Home bookstore: Stars Hollow Books
Notable characteristics: I mean, it’s Rory. She’s hungry, she’s moral, and she likes books. What else is there?
Bookselling philosophy: Actually, she mostly just does inventory. And buys the books.
Relatable: “I have a great system going. This is my ‘to be written down’ pile, my ‘already written down’ pile, and this is my pile of books that I have seen and now have to buy.” (Reader, the third pile is bigger than the other two piles.)
48. The Bookseller, Beauty and the Beast
Home bookstore: The village bookstore
Notable characteristics: A very nice old man with poor business sense who actually likes Belle. Could use a restock.
Bookselling philosophy: Hard to know if he has one, considering he lets pretty girls waltz in and borrow books from his store, and then when that’s not enough, he gives them away for free.
47. Poppy, Single Parents
Home bookstore: Poppy’s Winebrary
Notable characteristics: Empowered third wave feminist who is living her best life. Has the most fun of all the booksellers (but is mostly interested in the wine, if we’re being honest).
Bookselling philosophy: Basically, if you get people drunk, they’ll buy something.
46. The unnamed bookseller, If on a winter’s night a traveler
Home bookstore: Your local bookstore, where you bought the latest novel by Italo Calvino
Notable characteristics: None, really—and to be fair, the bookseller is barely a character in Calvino’s novel, but I’m including him here because if not a character, he is at least a conduit, a kind of hinge for the rest of the book as it unfolds.
Bookselling philosophy: Totally willing to exchange that book, but not willing to accept any grief over it. “Now I ask you, must a poor bookseller take the blame for the negligence of others? We’ve been going crazy all day.”
45. Anna, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Home bookstore: Fictional name unknown, but fun fact: the scenes in Anna’s bookstore were filmed in Logos, in NYC, which is the same filming location as the bookstore where Joe works in You.
Notable characteristics: Loves Fanny Brice, and also has a soft spot for grumpy forgers.
Bookselling philosophy: Giving the benefit of the doubt.
See also: all the other booksellers and rare book/literary ephemera dealers in this movie (and in the memoir by Lee Israel).
44. Nina Redmond, The Bookshop on the Corner
Home bookstore: Well, it’s pretty much a van, but Nina outfits it into a mobile bookstore and takes it to Scotland. The dream!
Notable characteristics: An out-of-work librarian who knows exactly what book would suit you best.
Bookselling philosophy: “I wanted to . . . you know. Bring books to people. Find the right kind of thing for them to read.”
43. The narrator, Severina
Home bookstore: La Entretenida
Notable characteristics: Very obsessive; will fixate on strangers, especially if they are attractive young women who steal books.
Bookselling philosophy: “We didn’t have anything better to do [than open a bookstore] and we were tired of paying through the nose for books chosen by and for others as ‘eccentrics’ like us are forced to do in provincial cities.” Also has an eye for shoplifters.
42. Mike, Mike: Bookseller
Home bookstore: Booksellers
Notable characteristics: Large hair, deadpan snarker, will do anything for money, collects stuffed giraffes.
Bookselling philosophy: Just get through the day.
Also: Everyone in this web comic is selling books or buying them. You don’t see that every day.
41. Annie Laurance Darling, Death on Demand
Home bookstore: Death on Demand, on Broward’s Rock Island, South Carolina
Notable characteristics: The owner of an exceptionally well-named mystery bookstore—accused of murdering a famous mystery writer! Let the amateur sleuthing and name-clearing begin.
Bookselling philosophy: “Annie relished running Death on Demand. She’d loved mysteries since her first Nancy Drew. She loved mystery readers, who ran the gamut of society, with a small s. She enjoyed tipping readers to new, good writers, such as Jane Dentinger, Dorothy Cannell, and Charlaine Harris. She liked the way readers could surprise you: the wispy-haired spinster who never missed a McBain, the island plumber whose favorite author was Amanda Cross.”
40. Dido Hoare, Death’s Autograph
Home bookstore: Dido Hoare Antiquarian Books and Prints in London (above which she lives)
Notable characteristics: “The world-famous soft-touch antiquarian book dealer” is also scrappy, resourceful, and has something of a temper.
Bookselling philosophy: The series that begins with Death’s Autograph tracks Dido’s business—starting with most of her sales coming from mail orders and ending with, of course, a website.