Marie has been a bookseller since she was 10. Marie often says that she feels lucky to have this job and to have "all these books" to read every day. She responds, "Wait! Let's talk about how heavy the boxes she carries every single day" (at Christmas, "Harry Potter", in packs of twenty). She is 31 and manages the youth section at a medium-sized bookstore in Toulouse. There are twelve employees.
The collective agreement grid is used for bookstores. Marie's salary is slightly higher. Marie earns 1,200 euros net per month, or 1,560 euros gross each month. This is the equivalent to a minimum wage. According to INSEE, this is 805 euros lower than the average net salary in France (2.005 euros in 2020). She redid her accounts shortly after her baby was born. This "passion job", which she loves but where salary increases are rare, is she still able to make enough money?
Publicly revealing his salary. This sounds terrible to many. We wanted to discuss the reasons behind your compensation. What does this tell you about your work? From you, perhaps? What is the importance of your salary? Is it even right? You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if the subject interests you and you wish to discuss it.
Are you getting enough money?
Yes, compared to 35 hours of work, It is quite thankless when compared to the amount of memory and knowledge that my job requires. We bring more than just books! Sometimes we offer very personal or specific advice. You won't say "I don't understand "..." if someone approaches you asking for a Boston book set from the 1940s.
How do you spend your workdays?
Customers are informed. They will often ask for the book with the blue cover that they saw on TV. Customers often search for books in the children's section that deal with a particular issue. For example, "get rid your pacifier" and "what to do if you are bullied at school." ". This is the best part. You will also need to store new releases and shelves that customers have damaged... Finally, you'll need to manage book orders and make appointments with representatives from publishing houses who take tours to show new products.
Reception work is also available. My bookstore receives at least one pallet per day. A pallet can be defined as twenty-five to thirty large boxes of books. My team is not able to handle the volume of books that some bookstores receive daily. There are many small tasks such as putting notes on books, managing social media, answering emails, and organizing signings. We don't have to sit down at the bookstore to read our books in the middle of the work day. It is best to spend your time getting to know your books at home.
What is the hardest thing about your job?
It's physical. It's physical. We stand most of the day (in some books, it's even prohibited to sit down). Sometimes we carry 500 kilos of weight each day. With the holiday gifts, I often put away several hundred books per week at the end of each year. Literally. Sometimes, you have to read things you don't like to read. It can also be difficult to build a relationship with customers. You may encounter rude or abrasive people who won't thank you or say hello, and you don't know how to answer. It requires a lot personal and emotional investment.
An intern asked me and my colleagues what the biggest advantage was to working in a bookstore last winter. We looked at one another and all we could think of was "There are books." It's true that we talk about a "passionate work"
Do you consider your job important?
Yes. Yes. I am having fun. We have a lot of fun with the children. You're not just "his seller", but you are now "his bookseller". It's quite overwhelming. It's what I love deep down. This doesn't mean that I can't do other things. If I'm given the opportunity to do the job well, I sign and stay.
What has changed in your salary since you began working?
Little. I was a "foreman" at another bookstore. It's like a "plus plus" department manager. I earned 1,350 euros net. There, I was a saleswoman at a bookstore. Many bookstores prefer to hire salespeople over booksellers because it is cheaper.
Are you able to save money at the end the month?
No never. That word is not my vocabulary. Sometimes, when I get bonuses, I put 20 to 30 euros in my joint savings account with my spouse. I don't have a personal savings account. I am fortunate that my husband is able to make a decent living. However, I'm not sure what I would do if I was alone with a child. It would be very complicated to find housing and food. This is not the case for booksellers. This is true for all minimum wage workers.
Do you ever wish to make more money by changing jobs?
We believe that money will follow us when we find a job we love. Although it's not ideal, it is still nice to be motivated to get up in the morning. The problem with being a bookseller is that your salary doesn't necessarily provide you with enough money to live in the area you work, especially in the center of the city. I commute for fifty minutes each day. The calculation was already very conservative before the birth of my son. After he was born, however, I returned to work for two weeks before realizing that it wasn't financially viable. I don't have any prospects for long-term or medium-term development, especially since I don't have any. I searched for bookstores in rural areas to apply for. My salary wouldn't increase, but my purchasing power would.
Are you a person who has ever pushed for better wages from your employer? To ask for a raise
It involves the author reading his books at home and then interviewing the audience. Booksellers are usually compensated in a variety of ways, including vouchers for 50, 60 or 80 euros for books and salary. In my fourth interview, I discovered that I would not be paid by the bookstore where I had worked previously. You shouldn't be paid if you love what your do. I won.
It was a "passion job". Is this a justification for low wages?
To the authors, we make the same argument: You should be happy that you have been published! This argument is false. In an ideal world, everyone would choose a job that interests them. Passion comes with a price: Low salaries (all are based on the minimum wage), high osteopathic notes due to the cards... We have to pay for it both in terms of living comfort and physically. Housing is a major expense. I have to make concessions. My family and I cannot share accommodation within 30 minutes of my job.
Have you ever discussed your salary with family members, friends, or acquaintances?
It's not something I find difficult to talk about, even though it shocks some people due to the contrast with their romantic notion of the bookstore. Many people tell me that booksellers are nice because they have all the ..." books. I reply, "Wait! Let's talk about the boxes, and the salary!" Many people are surprised to learn that I make so little.
For me, money has never been taboo. If it truly turns people on, however, I won't insist. Salary is for some people a measure of how valuable they are as human beings: the more you make, the better your life. Everybody has accepted that. My life is not perfect, but I consider it successful regardless of the 1,200 euros I get per month. I would rather love my job, be happy at work, and earn $5,000 than to be miserable.
What salary should you be paid? What should the salary pay for?
Already, the usefulness of this profession is evident. However, I believe that we shouldn't be paid according our education. Instead, our salary should reflect what we do each day in the field and the depth of our knowledge. Many of my colleagues are not educated or have anarchic backgrounds but are great booksellers.
Are you surprised at the salaries of certain professions?
When we have big responsibilities or are highly qualified, I can understand why we get paid well. However, I am shocked to see that a secretary gets paid 2,000 euros per month, while her boss earns 10,000. The care professions, such as nurses, midwives and caregivers (like mine), aren't paid enough. We wouldn't be able to live without them.
What amount would you like to make each month?
That would be sufficient for me. It would cost between 1,500 and 1,800 net euros. This salary may be possible at the end of my career, depending on seniority. This would give me more flexibility for housing and less ric-rac after I have paid rent, utilities, car, and telephone bills. Then, of course, I would likely buy books.
What would you do if you had the opportunity to make money from home?
I believe I would be bored very quickly and would still love to entertain myself. Perhaps I will become a "bookstagrammer". Or, I could work part-time or volunteer in animations based on books. It is impossible to live a full life and not do anything. My former colleague has taken up the role of volunteer librarian in her small village. It would look like this, I believe.