Housmans News

Bookseller Vacancy

January 30, 2020

***Applications for this role are now closed***

Bookseller (part-time, 3 days/week)

Housmans Bookshop is seeking to hire a part-time bookseller for three days per week. 

In addition to serving customers and helping with a wide range of day-to-day shop activities, we also invite the successful candidate to act as a coordinator for our team of volunteers. Full job description below.

Housmans is one of London’s oldest radical bookshops, specialising in books, magazines and pamphlets reflecting a broad spectrum of radical and progressive political movements, including pacifism, feminism, anarchism, socialism, anti-fascist and anti-racist politics, environmental politics and more. We also stock fiction, poetry, children’s books, and host a huge range of events and book clubs throughout the year. We operate on a not-for-profit basis.

We are seeking an enthusiastic new worker with an interest in books and radical politics, who would like to work in a public-facing role, and would be happy to help support, train and coordinate the volunteers who also assist in the shop. Experience in at least one of the following is desirable:

*some aspect of radical politics and campaigning

*retail or other customer service role

*bookselling or the book trade

*volunteer management


This post is for three days per week (10am-6:30pm), including one weekend every third week. The weekday days to be worked can be negotiated based on the candidate’s availability.

Housmans operates wage parity, and we are a Living Wage employer. The current hourly rate is £11.10p/h.

There are sometimes opportunities for additional hours – for instance, providing holiday cover, or working at events and bookstalls.



The primary activity in this role is working ‘front-of-house’ at the bookshop. This involves:

*serving customers at the till

*helping customers in other ways – such as placing orders, or searching for and recommending books 

*keeping the shop tidy, shelving books and helping with displays

*dealing with deliveries and checking invoices


Volunteer coordination

As a not-for-profit campaigning bookshop, Housmans has been very lucky to benefit from the help of volunteers over the years. Our volunteers mainly help out by working on the till on certain days and during events.

We have volunteers who have helped us for many years, as well as a steady influx of new people looking to volunteer. 

The coordinator role involves:

*responding to enquiries about volunteering

*arranging times for new volunteers to come in for till training

*helping to provide till training and shadowing new volunteers on the till

*overseeing an up-to-date rota for regular volunteers

*making sure there are volunteers to help at our weekly events

In addition to the above roles, there is plenty of scope to become more involved in other areas of running the shop if desired – for instance,, buying cards, badges and other non-book merchandise for the shop.


Housmans is collectively run by a small team of staff (currently four, plus an events host). We have a non-hierarchical structure – although different staff members have different responsibilities, all staff are paid the same, and the successful applicant to this post will be a full and equal member of the team. The existing staff cover the majority of the ‘back-of-house’ and administrative roles, but also help on the till. 

The shop is governed by a board made up of staff and non-staff directors. The successful applicant to this role will be invited to become a director, if they wish, after their six month probation period.


Customer service and dealing with the public

Providing friendly and helpful service to our customers is one of the main responsibilities of the role. Given the nature and location of the shop, this may involve dealing at times with vulnerable people and handling political differences in a respectful and professional manner.  

Computer literacy

The role involves searching databases, using various on- and off- line programmes, creating and maintaining spreadsheets, and other common computer-based tasks. A good eye for detail is essential. 

Knowledge of radical politics and campaigning issues

Housmans Bookshop is home to pacifists, socialists, greens, feminists, anarchists, the LGBTQ+ community, and other radical and progressive traditions. The role requires an awareness of the different currents across all progressive movements and an understanding of the wider political community.

Interest in books and the book trade

Whilst previous bookselling experience is not a requirement, we do expect the successful applicant to read widely and have an interest in the book trade. 


Housmans is run by its workers, and decisions are reached on a co-operative basis and by consensus in the vast majority of cases. The successful candidate will need to be able to work collaboratively and communicate effectively with co-workers and volunteers and contribute to creating a respectful and friendly working environment. 

Interpersonal and management skills

The successful applicant will manage and coordinate a team of over 15 volunteers. Administrative skills such as planning, organising, delegating, decision-making and staffing are essential. Also required are strong interpersonal skills and the ability to resolve conflict.


The successful applicant will agree with the objectives of the Peace News Trust. 

Housmans Bookshop Ltd., a company owned by Peace News Trustees Ltd., was set up in 1945 to ‘build a pacifist society based on nonviolent means of resolving social and international conflicts through carrying on in Britain and elsewhere the business of booksellers, stationers, and publishers, and to sell such papers, periodicals, books, circulars and other literary undertakings as may seem conducive to the attainment of the aims of the company.’ 


The deadline for applications is Monday the 17th of February at 9am. Your application should take the form of a cover letter explaining why you are the right candidate for the job based on the criteria above, and a CV.

We hope to interview in the week beginning the 24th of February. 

There will be a six month probation period for this job.

Send your application to shop[at]housmans[.]com.

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