Typical Roles at a Bookstore

A bookstore is primarily a retail environment. Consequently, its staffing requirements are similar to that of a clothing or grocery store. Cashiers or other attendants are needed to assist customers and process sales while back-end employees are needed to stock shelves and manage inventory.

General Manager

A general manager runs the daily operations of the business. This role is frequently filled by the owner.

Typical Salary: $30,000

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Hiring/scheduling staff
  • Ordering supplies
  • Serving as the point of contact for the company
  • Marketing the business

What to look for:

  • Experience hiring/managing people
  • Prior management experience
  • Knowledge of the industry important

Retail Associate

A retail associate helps customers locate books, answers questions, and makes recommendations. An interest in literature is important!

Typical Salary: $11/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Greeting and assisting customers
  • Processing sales

What to look for:

  • Good customer service skills
  • Retail experience
  • Interest in literature


A stocker organizes books and moves around inventory as needed.

Typical Salary: $9/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Moving books around as needed
  • Helping customers find specific books or genres

What to look for:

  • Ability to lift heavy loads (~50 lbs)
  • Comfortable standing, bending, lifting throughout the day

Bookstore Hiring Tips

Hiring employees can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it doesn't have to be. We break the process down into four basic steps: (1) Planning; (2) Recruiting; (3) Interviewing; and (4) Completing the Hire. Here are some tips for each phase of the process

Plan to Staff Your Business

A bookstore’s atmosphere is a key element in building a loyal customer base, and friendly employees who are passionate about literature help tremendously. All of your retail employees should have an interest in books so that they will be able to answer customer’s questions and make recommendations.

When first starting out, you (as the owner) may be the sole employee for a while. It is up to you whether you want to hire dedicated cashiers, sales associates, and stockers to manage inventory, or hire employees who can each perform all of these jobs.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy

Recruitment can happen through any conventional means, from online job postings, to flyers around town. You probably won’t be able to recruit solely people with experience at a previous bookstore, so look for applicants with retail experience and an interest in literature.

Interview with Confidence

If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.

Nonetheless, it is natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most bookstores look for employees who are:

  • Passionate about literature
  • Customer-oriented

Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:

  • Talk about the last good book you’ve read.
  • Describe how you would handle an unsatisfied customer.
  • Describe a time you had to perform a job while under stress.

Be Familiar with Hiring Laws

After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.

One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.

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For more details, please refer to our guide on the topic, Contractors vs. Employees: What You Need to Know. We also provide templates for the essential hiring forms you will need.

Set Up Payroll

Once you have a growing team of employees, it's time to set up your payroll. Using a payroll service provider saves you time for running your business, and also helps ensure that you comply with important federal requirements such as employee tax withholding.

To help our readers save money and grow their business, we negotiated a 20% discount for you with payroll provider ADP, the most popular small business provider in the country.

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Try ADP and get 20% off payroll services for your business.

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