After so many months apart we’re more excited than ever for a summer season welcoming customers at the Kemptown Bookshop.

Here’s a little introduction to our wonderful bookseller team.

Meet: Kristian

Book most often recommended? The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, Helen Russell. 

Kristian has worked at the Kemptown Bookshop for many years and is a lynchpin in the shop. He started bookselling in Denmark, where he was born, and where bookshops, at the time, provided full apprenticeships in bookselling. These covered everything, from bookkeeping to book display, so the often-heard quip ‘what Kristian doesn’t know about bookselling isn’t worth knowing’ is very much warranted.

Arriving in Britain at the age of 28 Kristian took a job at the Sussex University Bookshop. Here he progressed to Manager, overseeing the day to day selling of academic titles; liaising with tutors re-core texts for their courses, and also organising publisher’s book fairs at the University. Additional to his role as Manager Kristian took the position as Sub Postmaster of the University Post Office. And before retiring from the University, he oversaw the transition of the ownership of the Bookshop from the University to John Smith & Sons.
Kristian scaled the bookselling career ladder: besides his managerial responsibilities at the university he became Chairman of the Sussex Branch of the Booksellers Association, and then Director of the Booksellers Association of Britain and Ireland. (Bookshops are lucky to have such an active and established trade association – it was through them, for instance, that the excellent book token scheme first developed). And we were lucky that Kristian came to us at the Kemptown Bookshop. He has helped to oversee our own transitions – from the closure of the Bookroom Cafe to the opening of our children’s section. He built up our school and college supply and oversees such tasks as book returns and our monthly accounts with the Booksellers Association.  

Meet: Mariateresa

Book most often recommended: Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell 

Mariateresa hails from Italy where her family still possess a vineyard, and where she visits, as often as she can, to climb mountains in the north and to swim in the Ligurian sea. She studied law at the University of Parma before coming to England to study for a Masters of Research in Humanities and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College, London. Mariateresa then worked as a Literary Consultant, reading manuscripts; assessing suitability for publication; editing and copyediting, before gaining employment as Associate Editor at Penguin. Here she flourished, eventually becoming Penguin Classics and Modern Classics Senior Commissioning Editor. Mariateresa is our resident author, excitedly working on a further novel after her two previous: Senza Mani, and Il cuore del polpo -The Heart of the Octopus. Set in the romantic countryside of North-West Italy the novel explores young love and its frailties and is receiving plaudits by all readers – a number from customers who have bought the novel in the shop. 

Meet: Rachel

Book most often recommended?
Anything by Pulitzer Prize-winning Elizabeth Stroud (Olive KitteridgeMy Name is Lucy Barton). But, try her: Rachel reads discerningly and widely, and is renowned for her bespoke recommendation.

Rachel started in the shop as a novice bookseller but is now, with many years of experience, an expert in the trade. She was born in the UK, studied history at university, then art history, and subsequent to this worked as a cataloguer in the textile department of Bonham’s auctioneers. She was then recruited as an archivist at the Prince of Wales’s office. This background has been put to good use in the Bookshop. Rachel does a lot of our stock control and purchasing, especially for our card and stationery lines. She knows her art. And she puts this to good use elsewhere too: she’s a Brighton Festival Patron, and on the judging panel for the Pebble Trust’s bursary award for ‘best touring event’ in the Festival Fringe. And for this role Rachel and her fellow judges travel to Edinburgh every year – ‘essential research’, she calls it – to assess how that city does things at their annual Festival. 

Meet: Charlotte

Book recommendation: Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meaning, Jonathan Raban 

Charlotte is our newest recruit and whilst she has only been at the job for a few weeks she is proving herself more than capable. Charlotte studied Librarianship at university, before completing an MA in English Literature. She has mainly worked as a university and school librarian, but she has also worked as a freelance book editor and proofreader. As a former librarian, Charlotte has a firm grasp of information science, and it is evident already that she will soon become our go-to person for all things web-related. Charlotte recently moved to the south coast. She wanted to live by the sea – and she’s a swimmer, preferring the ocean to any inside pool. She’s also a walker, and as she says, welcomes being ‘taken on long walks by [her] tireless hound’ over the Downs.