I’ve worked in a bookstore long enough that I could write a whole parodic blog called “If Customers Organized Bookstores.”
There would be an “It was on NPR” table, a “Oprah Wrote It, It’s Called Tale of Two Cities” table, a “My Daughter Saw It Up Front Two Months Ago, It Was Blue,” table, a table that ran the whole length of the store that’s called “It’s a true story, it got a good review in one of the papers a few weeks ago,” and a “Where’s the travel section” neon sign. Also, I’d get rid of the bathroom, and there would be, at the very, very front of the store, the only store-directed table. It would be full of pens and paper and books explaining how to use the texting and camera functions on one’s cellphone/blackberry/competitor e-reader product. It would have a sign that read “Notes, jerkwads, learn to make them.”
But occasionally a lovely 80-something grandmother comes in, like one did last week, and wants something new for her granddaughter. Then, I get to recommend the Sisters Grimm series and D’Aulaire’s Norse Myths to a woman who’s delighted that I suggested nothing with cliques, or makeup, or what was popular this month, or what we just had the most of, but instead listened to her say that the girl loved Percy Jackson and Nancy Drew, but that her parents weren’t big into buying her books.
Today, she came back with the granddaughter to get more D’Aulaire’s– and the rest of the Sisters Grimm books. And then I got to make them a pile of all my favorite books that a smart eight-year-old-girl could probably handle, and the girl went hog-wild over the basket we built her and spent all her gift cards on books. (And all she’d asked for for her birthday was gift cards. For books. A kid after my own heart, I tell you.)
That’s when I am tempted to write a blog called The Radical Intimacy of Bookselling, because sharing what you think someone might like and having it work– or having it help, if that’s the problem?
It’s worth all the requests for that blue book with the dog on the cover, no, not that one, the other one, no, the other other one. (For the record, there are at least four in stock in our store.) And by the way, the bathroom’s disgusting. Clearly, the employees are at fault.