Sunday, December 5, 2010

Overheard in the Bookstore

The setting: a busy afternoon in a busy chain bookstore, not long after Black Wednesday.

The players: a busy but still cheerful bookseller and a large bespectacled man browsing in the Science Fiction section.

Busy but still cheerful bookseller: Hey! Can I help you find anything?

Large bespectacled man (glancing up somewhat dismissively from the book he's perusing): No. Thanks. 

BBSCB (walking briskly on past): Okay--give me a yell if you change your mind.

LBM (allowing BBSCB to put some distance between them before speaking): Can you tell me how the decision is made where a book is shelved? There's a large difference between Horror (which is a terrible misnomer; it should be called "Gothic") and Science Fiction, and there doesn't seem to be any reasoning behind what's put where.

BBSCB (attempting to remain upbeat and cheerful): That certainly may be so. We find more and more that there's overlap between the genres. For example, take paranormal romance and urban fantasy; both of these categories could easily be shelved in two or more genres. Generally, our buyers use a combination of basic logic and publisher preference when deciding where to shelve a book. Don't worry, though, we can always help you find what you're looking for.

LBM (dismissively): I seriously doubt it. And it's just stupid to shelve most of those titles in Horror--which really should be called "Gothic."

BBSCB (cranking up the cheerful meter as she peels away): I guess we're just stupid, then. Have a great day!

Boy is the busy but still cheerful bookseller tired these days...and there are still three weeks to go before Christmas.


Barb said...

Maybe you could have said "Gee, do you have any extra Nasty pills on you, I forgot to take mine this morning". Or maybe just think it......really, really loud :)

Rebecca Glenn said...

You know, I've tried the think-it-really-loud technique, but I don't seem to be very good at it. Perhaps it's just the tiny brain that allows me to think it's pretty much the same whether the section is called "Gothic" or "Horror" or "Joe."

And, unfortunately, the outright snappy comebacks are frowned upon. You know, customer service and all that.

Drat that customer is always right thing!

EnriqueFreeque said...


Sam said...

I once worked in a bookshop as a Christmas temp, and I don't know what it is about bookstores but they really attract annoying, pedantic and weird people. I've worked in other retail environments and they've been nowhere near as bas as the bookshop.

Maybe people who love books are more likely to be a bit weird or annoying?