You are an expert on books. You’ve read them. You’ve smelled them. You’ve caressed them and become intimately familiar with their creases and nooks. You’ve maybe even written one. Now it’s time for the big leagues and you want to get paid for your love of books—and why else but so that you can buy more books? Before you dig into the list of jobs for book lovers below, a caveat: be careful what you wish for. The best jobs for book lovers may be jobs that don’t involve books at all. Really consider if dealing with books all day will cause a loss of the magic of them. Once you ring that bell, it’s a hard one to un-ring. But, if you really feel that you are the kind of person for whom the book job bell tolls, go forth and polish up your résumé.
I am absolutely not suggesting that you go into an interview and respond to the question, “So, why do you want this job?” with “Because I love books!” Don’t do that. It’s a terrible idea. As a librarian, I rail against the idea that libraries are just books regularly. But. Libraries still work with and handle books frequently, whether it’s determining what to add or remove from the collection, recommending titles to patrons, hosting book clubs, doing crafts with old books, serving as a social media manager to promote the library (and therefore its programs and books), or any other number of tasks we do. Librarians typically need a master’s degree and the field is tight, but plenty of locations are also looking to fill important (albeit often part-time) positions like associate and technician jobs, which can mean all sorts of things depending on the library.
For many of us, teachers were those who taught us the life of reading and how wonderful it can be. Though they no doubt have stressful jobs and are often underpaid, there are few joys like that of introducing young people to literature. Whether you’re interested in starting with phonics or you’d rather teach advanced literature at a college, there’s a wide range to work with. Even preschools and kindergartens are options, where much of the education is play-based—you can still incorporate literature in myriad ways in the day-to-day through things like story hour and tongue twisters. Meanwhile, elementary school teachers will fold in things like comprehension, middle school teachers bring in a bit of literary analysis, and it only grows from there.
For many of us, professors opened up the world of books and reading in a whole new way. Deep dives into Langston Hughes, hours with Jane Austen, and close examinations of Leo Tolstoy. You might wish to specialize just in Shakespeare, or you may prefer something broader, like Western Literature. Still, this is not a job you can just walk into—it often requires advanced degrees, which means time, money, and privilege. But if you can see yourself molding the minds of pupils and sharing your love of books, it might be time to polish an apple and get to work.
If you’re an ebook reader, you might be familiar with OverDrive, a common library ebook database. OverDrive and other library databases don’t just appear out of thin air—there are developers working to make digital books a reality for customers everywhere. If you’ve got a decent coding streak in you, consider throwing your hat in as a database developer for OverDrive or any of the other library databases (not sure what’s out there? Take a cruise through your library’s digital offerings through their website). Or, you might find any of these databases have any number of jobs for which you’re already qualified. The good news is, you’ll always have books at your fingertips via the keyboard.
Sometimes, the smart thing is to judge a book by its cover. Someone has to design these books, from their covers to their typeface, so if you have an artistic lean to you, consider being a book designer. This job will also call on your business and comprehension skills. You probably won’t want to include an image of a kraken on the cover of a novel set in space. Unless it’s a space pirate opera. You never know.
Another publishing gig, editing is an important part of the book world that helps authors’ stories come from idea to reality. Though writers may do most of the work when it comes to the birth of a book, an editor can help guide writers to a better finished product. There are a few big name publishers out there with many imprints in their family trees, but don’t overlook small publishers. And, if editing books isn’t your thing, you might consider other media, like magazines or newspapers.
If you’re someone who likes setting trends, being an agent might be up your alley. Catch the latest and greatest before it happens by reviewing query letters and manuscripts. Being an agent isn’t all reading, though. Once you’ve got what you think is a prized pony, you’ll want to start showing it around to potential publishers. You’ll probably provide feedback on work to writers and maintaining good relationships with both the authors you represent and publishers will be hugely important, so if you’re the seemingly rare breed that loves books and is also a bit of an extrovert, you might consider being an agent.
It’s the dream. Whether you have lots of business intuition and want to own a bookstore or would rather let someone else handle the more complex side of bookselling and prefer to be on the front lines, helping customers choose their latest read, there are lots of opportunities in selling books. You might work with new books, used books, antique books, special books, or any other specific kind of collection. As a bookseller, you may get access to advanced readers copies, help determine what the store will buy from publishers, and generally shape the reading world in your community. How cool!
Many reviewer positions, sadly, are on a volunteer basis with little or no compensation. But that’s not to say that’s the case with all of them. Some review publishers pay by the review while others offer a salary. Sometimes it depends on the kind of position and typical hours spent doing the job, but there are jobs out there that involve reviewing books or otherwise assisting or managing the review process. If you’re particularly interested in education, you might look into publications that focus reviews on materials for students and/or children. You might also look for publications that review for adults—sometimes these publications are reviews only, and other times, they might be larger publications with review sections. Be thorough in your search and you’re likely to find a great fit.
If giving a bookish opinion isn’t so much your thing but you still want your word on books read by the masses, consider being a content writer or assistant. Whether you’re writing for a print or digital publication, there is plenty to write about when it comes to books (we’d know!). Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to work freelance, or you can apply for more traditional positions with a regular salary. Find genre-specific publications or general interest publications that are looking to write about books (or maybe the written word alone is enough and you’re happy to write about gardening, cars, or any other number of subjects).
If you want to keep the magic of books behind a curtain, being a publishing assistant can help a little with that, placing a bit of distance between you and the creation of books. These jobs take place in a publishing house, but the work is much like an assistant position in any other industry. You might take on data entry projects, filing, receiving phone calls, managing a schedule, and filling in around the office as needed. With a job that depends a lot on industry workflow, it’s possible you have downtime and can even sneak in a few minutes of desktop reading now and then.
It’s not easy to make money as a podcaster, but if you can cultivate a following and get some sponsors, you could hit it big. Podcast production is, well, a production—there’s often a whole team behind the more popular shows. So if hearing your own voice across the airwaves or WiFi isn’t your idea of a good time, you might enjoy joining a bookish podcast in another way, such as a producer, sound editor, or marketing manager.
It might be time to dust off your old drawer novels and see if you can shape them up a bit. I won’t sugar coat it—getting published is often immensely difficult and tedious. And once they’ve written the first book on their own time, many authors find the slog of keeping up with deadlines to take the fun out of writing.
Over the years as the internet has blossomed and we’ve looked for ways to better connect with each other, services such as subscription boxes have popped up. These services don’t run themselves and often require positions such as an editorial director to run smoothly. As you can imagine, being an editorial director involves all sorts of things in these capacities, like guiding the team through book selection, maintaining relationships with publishers and other manufacturers for additional goodies in your box, and plugging your company. To select the best books, one must read books—and while you might not be able to do this too often on the job, it’s certainly incentive to say no to a night out and yes to a cozy night in.
Plenty of publishers have editors for adult books, but have you considered that children’s materials need editors, too? These jobs are different in that reading levels must more carefully be considered than is the case with adult material. Many publishers, particularly those that focus on “easy reader” publications, determine a reading level to associate with their materials. You may be responsible for figuring out the best fit for a given piece. This is in addition to all your average editor duties. If you have a love of children’s literature in particular, or a passion of literacy, look into editing for the k(indergarten)–12(the grade) crowd.
The ability to read is a wonderful gift and it’s possible you want to share that gift with others. Being a literacy educator is a great opportunity to do so. Literacy educators teach students—often adult ones—to read, write, and more, as it relates to those activities. You’re likely to find literacy education positions in the nonprofit sector, so you may not make a fortune doing it, but the results and outcomes will be well worth your while.
Online Content Marketer
Nearly everything has a website these days and many also have social media accounts to manage. If you want to work in the book world but not necessarily with books all the time, consider looking into online content marketing. As a content marketer, you’ll likely be working to boost engagement with written content, but there are other opportunities if you prefer to promote, say, an organization that deals with books instead. For example, many libraries have staff dedicated to their online presence management. In these positions, you may work directly with the public but not face-to-face so much, so it might be an ideal job for the introverts among us.
Events can’t plan themselves! Year after year, we are treated to fun and exciting conferences, conventions, festivals, and fairs. Many of them, you probably know, are about books and reading. Whether you’re interested in something enormous like the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, or BookCon in New York City, or you’re more suited to smaller, state-wide events, there are plenty of regular events that need planning and coordinating. You might look into a position that handles the scheduling of authors and other visitors, or maybe you’d prefer to take care of structural logistics. Whatever your jive, event coordination in the world of books could be worth a shot.
Back in the olden days, my children, we did not have the internet. We had encyclopedias and the nonfiction section. Fortunately, we now have the wonders of Google, Bing, and lesser-known search engines and databases to aid us in our researching quests. This also means we must be more discerning about the information we consume and cite. Lots of folks, such as professors (but certainly beyond them, too), hire research assistants to comb through existing works as they put fingers to keys on their own. While researchers may take great advantage of the internet, there’s still a lot of value in searching for information in books and the first hand sources, like diaries. If deep dives into particular subjects is your thing, consider being a professional researcher.
Not all tutors can make bank on the job, but if you’re good at it, you could. Pick a subject in which you’re well learned and share your knowledge and studying skills with those who need it. Tutors who can present the same information in different ways and get at their students’ learning styles are best, so if you consider yourself to be observant, a bit of a people person, and a good one-on-one teacher, you might want to be a tutor. Of course, tutors use books regularly in the instruction process and you’ll probably want to read some on off-time, too, to keep up with trends in tutoring and to be sure that you have the greatest possible grip on your subject.
Reading for grammar errors, faux pas, and punctuation issues isn’t necessarily as thrilling as reading for content and enjoyment, but it’s an important part of the publishing process. (Plus, let’s be real, some of us relish in those pesky details. Give me a good Oxford comma and I’ll love you forever.) You can find copy reading work in many of the same places you see editors—big publishers, small publishers, newspapers, websites, and so on—and the two positions often work together and overlap. Copy readers, also called copy editors, also do things like fact check, and read over the text as if a reader who might encounter it post-publication to be sure everything makes sense.
Creative Writing Instructor
Those who can’t do, teach, am I right? (Please ignore me crying in the corner.) There are opportunities to be a creative writing teacher in all sorts of environments. You might be a librarian doing it once a month as a program, a high school English teacher who has a period of creative writing once a week, a community college instructor doing it part-time in the evenings, or a creative writing professor who teaches the subject full time. Doing it full- or part-time will require lesson plans, classroom management, actual instruction, and review of assignments like any other teaching job. Many schools will also require professors to publish, which can help increase the legitimacy of a creative writing program. Some positions will also require advanced degrees, but this may not apply in all cases.
Another option for people who love books and want a hand in their existence but don’t want to work directly with them, necessarily, data science might be a surprising avenue for you. Data science often involves data visualization and coding. This coding can be for anything under the sun, but plenty of places need code written to scan documents for particular nuances—vocabulary, sentence structure, or any other number of things. Often, this kind of code is necessary for legal documents, but who’s to say there isn’t a use for novels, too?
Wait, don’t go; hear me out! Truck drivers, an essential part of our market (and many of whom transport books!) spend a lot of time on the road, often alone. What better way to spend that more-or-less free mental time with audiobooks? Truck drivers often require special driving licenses, but the pay isn’t shabby. If you’re an audiobook lover, some time on the road might be just what you need. Think about being a truck driver.
These positions are few and far between, but if you start a practice of your own in the right place at the right time, you just might hit it big. And who knows, maybe you’ll get a TV deal. Bibliotherapists are professional reading advisors. Librarians and booksellers do this as part of their job, but not exclusively. If you love recommending the perfect book, bibliotherapy could be worth looking into. This is not a position that you’d necessarily need a psychology degree for, but it could be useful as you suss out what makes a person tick. Naturally, to recommend books, you have to read a whole lot of them.
Much like a researcher, historians often have cause to deal with rare and old materials including books. Imagine needing to get your hands on the Malleus Maleficarum to ensure accuracy on your latest paper. Consider showing off a collection of rare books on an estate tour of a famous bibliophile. Think what it might be like to read about the most glorious moments of history—and, true, the horrific ones—to add to the canon of history nonfiction yourself. The possibilities are endless.
You’ve maybe gone out of your way on vacations to visit bookish spots in the past (we like to call it Literary Tourism here at Book Riot). But have you ever thought about having a hand in one of those museums? Whether you’re interested in small museums like author birthplaces or ready for something larger, like the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, museum curation could be a fun way to go.
Directors can’t do everything! Dramaturgs are responsible for the research aspect of theatre production, meaning they go through a play’s script and suss out the details to be sure they’re right on stage. Say a play takes place in 1952 and the director decides he wants Tootsie Rolls as part of the props—did Tootsie Rolls exist in 1952? It’s your job to find out! Not only are you constantly referring to the book that is the play’s script, but you’re also likely looking to consult books on all sorts of subjects as you do your research. As a dramaturg, the show must go on, but not without you!
So there you have it: 28 jobs for book lovers of all shapes and sizes. Now: what do you want to be when you grow up?