• 50 Fictional Booksellers, Ranked

    Pamela Anderson is the Jeff Bezos of This List.

    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.

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    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

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    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

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    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.)

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    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.

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    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.

    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple is the managing editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2020. You can buy it here.

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