10 Facts about Being a Bookseller

So, obviously, I work for a bookstore (if you couldn't already tell by my totally awesome and important title).  I have worked retail since I was 16 (yes, college degrees mean big money...not) so when I was offered a position at a bookstore I took a look at my current job (customer service manager for the biggest and baddest retail chain ever) and I was like, um, yes, please.


After about three months at my new, cool job, I realized it was exactly the same. Sure, I am surrounded by books, which definitely helps, but the customers, the b.s., that's all the same. 


Still, for those of you who just adore the written word but don't really know anything about the people who stock, zone, and sell the things? Here's a little insight into it all.


1. I spend more time picking up after people than anything else.  Yes, that's right. Most of my shifts are spent working on what we call recovery. Basically, people grab books and THOUSANDS of magazines, go to the cafe, read them, and leave them. It's really...awesome.


2. No, you can't describe the cover and expect me to know what the F you're talking about! Come on, are you serious? "There was a dog...with a hat...or a bone, maybe? It was definitely a dark blue cover! It was big, like 300 pages! And-wait. Maybe it was a horse on the cover."  *headdesk*


3. I get the stink eye when I tell a customer I don't know which bible would be appropriate. Now, in their defense, I work in a pretty "uppity" area, so I guess I can understand the ignorance. Still, don't give me that "holier-than-thou" look when I tell you that a bible is a bible. It's not like I promised you my expertise on the subject. I'm not religious so as a bookseller I can only do the best I can. I send those people home with King James.


4. The ignorance when it comes to classics. I was once asked if we were carrying "The Sound of Fury by some guy named William Falcon."  The same person then asked about some "Fitzpatrick guy, you know, it's a new book, they just made a movie! Leonardo DiCaprio was in it!"  *facepalm*


5. Fifty Shades of Grey, please! Now, I'm not going to harp on 50 Shades, I think everyone else has that covered. And fine, it's not a literary masterpiece but I've definitely read worse. And sure, she was a fanfic writer for Twilight (where this...book came from) but, don't throw stones from your glass house, Cassandra Clare lovers. But, if I have one more woman (sometimes men, you'd be surprised) coming in for that book, acting all fangirl over Christian Grey (who is really just the human version of Edward Cullen) I may snap. There are SO many amazingly written romances out there, please, remember that. E.L. James did not start romance.


6. How dare you not carry some book from '96 that went out of print years ago! I can relate to the frustration that comes with not getting what you came for. You need a book, you go to the bookstore, and you expect to come home with the book. Understandable. But, do you really expect some little bookstore to have every single book ever published? I'm sorry this obscure book didn't make the cut.


7. The Call-in/Walk-in. For those of you who need one book and only have a moment to stop and grab, fine, I'll stop glaring at you. But for those of you who ramble off a list over the phone and expect me to go shopping for you so you don't have to take the ESCALATOR upstairs, seriously? I have so many other things to do and, no offense, but everyone could use a little bookstore browsing.


8. This is why I shop at Amazon! Again, I understand the limitations of a bookstore. We don't have a copy of everything, if we do carry a book we don't have 20 more on-hand, you can't shop from your couch, you pay a little bit extra for the convenience of same-day pick-up...we already know this! And if it's that big of a deal, if you feel the need to complain EVERY time you're in the store, then just do the online thing. I won't even give you the judgey-eyes.


9. Pick-Up In Store price is different than Store price! That's bait and hook! No, no it's not. Because 90% of people understand that when you buy online, you pay less for the product. This ties into number 8 but this is it's own problem. First of all, if you go to our website it will show you the WEBSITE price, if you see we carry it in a store near you and you decided to travel to that store, you'll be paying the STORE price. There's a little something called "overhead" which you pay for when you shop in EVERY store. Yes, you can go online on my store's website, buy the book, have it shipped to you in three to five days, pay for shipping (if it's under $25), and you'll technically pay less. OR you can drive three blocks, pay three dollars more, and get it that day. No one is "tricking" you since no one is forcing you buy anything.


10. You mean you don't know every book? No, of course not! Actually, I can't claim to know even most books, not even half of the books. Know why? Because there are twenty billion! No, I don't know every bestseller. Do you know how many books these days end up on that list? I know a lot about my store, about the books we usually sell. You give me a title or an author and I will probably have some flicker of knowledge on it, but no, I can't give you a full synopsis and no, I don't have time to read every book so that it makes you book-buying easier. I do my best. If you ask me for a book I will do whatever I can to find it and if I can't find it I will track down someone else that may know. Don't look down on somebody because they haven't read that "really amazing book by Bill O'Reilly" please, I have better things to do.


There you have it. My list of facts, if you will, or pet-peeves rather. It's a bit of a rant told with a smile...mostly.