I have been researching some of my husband's ancestors who lived in the poorest parts of Liverpool during the second part of the 19th century. Two of his female relatives who had been widowed turned to bookselling to make a living. The trouble is I suspect that these women were illiterate, I know for certain that the daughter of one of them was. Were they really selling books or was "bookseller" a euphemism for some shadier activity?
The job description of Bookseller in England was defined from 1800-1802 as "proprietor of circulating library" (see bookhistory.blogspot.com, [Exeter Working Papers in Book History] by Ian Maxted)
“Circulating libraries were commercial enterprises that rented books to patrons, typically for an annual or quarterly fee. Developing out of informal arrangements for renting books by a handful of booksellers during the later seventeenth century, these businesses flourished from the 1740s (when the term “circulating library” and trade practices became standard) into the mid-twentieth century. Circulating libraries played a major role in creating the modern popular culture of reading, in part by making books affordable to a wider spectrum of the public, but more importantly by increasing the number of books any single reader could afford to read. Between the 1740s and 1840s circulating libraries also contributed significantly to the production of books, with proprietors of the largest libraries consistently ranking among the most prolific publishers of their day, especially when it came to novels.” Oxfordreference.com
In 19th century London, the Statute of Anne (Copyright Act of 1710) afforded independent Authors & Publishers the legal right to exclusively sell & publish their registered literary works.