A German intern’s take on Edinburgh Books
I am an intern at Edinburgh Books. People in my course of studies have to spend at least three months in an English speaking country. As if that wouldn’t be enough you have to spend a certain time of these three months with something relevant for your studies. This might be a job as a teacher, a semester at a university or, the least likely option, an internship. I chose an internship to see something else than university life or my later job for which we are prepared with several other internships. Little did I know that this would lead me to end up as an intern at this particular bookshop.
What is it like to live and work in this bookshop? To sum it up, it is fun, fun, fun and bits of boredom.
First fun: You get to know the stangest and lovliest of all people. A bookshop seems to be a magnet for quirkiness, celebrities and single mothers who just want to get out of the rain with their wee daughters. Your colleagues range from water buffaloes to grouses and even Americans. The customers are even more diverse. At one point, there was a film crew. They shot a short film about a bookshop owner and half of the people were from Britain while the other half was from Italy. It was fun to see them working together. Oh, and there is the obligatory bookshop dog I fell in love with.
Second fun: You’ll get access to a lot of books. Ranging from the “Little Book of Amputation” and “Scientific Massage to Athletes” to the “Wonkey Eye with Glow in the Dark Effect” book which pictures smoking monkeys and overweight anthropomorphic pigs you’ll find everything you could ever dream of. Well, except for a book about lion babies fighting bacteria in space. But that’s a different story.
Third fun: The records. You’ll find a lovely selection of records. Before I came to Edinburgh, I was a wee bit fond of folk music, however, here I listened to Dick Gaughan and got access Steeleye Span. Three months ago I did not really like country, now I love Dolly Parton for what she is and enjoy Willie Nelson, Mississippi John Hurt and Emmylou Harris. There are quite a few records I always wanted to listen to and Edinburgh Books made that possible.
Bit of boredom: Not unlike every other job, things get a wee bit repetitive after some time. However, you start to realise what it feels like to start such a project. It means for example to build up a stock of books at auctions, deal with people who want to sell their books or sit behind a desk being grumpy and cold all day long. After all, it is a job. There are quite a few romantic aspects about it but you have to pay taxes and employ people. After all, now I am the number one stamp licker in all of Scotland and have a profound knowledge in packing parcels and dealing with customers from all over the world.
Life in a bookshop is a microcosm of interesting people and it all adds up to a special atmosphere where you can lose yourself in discussions about how spies influenced the downfall of Soviet Russia, world religions, George Best and James Clerk Maxwell in half an hour.
As this is the last paragraph the reader might expect some highly emotional lines by the Hoff. In this case I’ll have to disappoint you. I am not a stereotypical German and therefore I’ll just go back and finally wear my leather trousers again and then have pretzels and beer in the beer garden. However: I’ll be back!