This Is Not the Six Word Novel blog. She's a poet, writer and antiquarian bookseller in the UK, and earlier this year she published a book called Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. Since bookish people love reading about bookish things, the idea spread across the pond and soon there was an open call for American and Canadian booksellers to submit some of their bizarre encounters with customers. Overlook published it just this last week, and they were kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of the book.
Jen's original contributions comprise most of the US edition, but it's interspersed throughout with new scenarios from the New World, including two out of the three that I submitted. One of them was entirely too long to print, but it remains one of my most frequently read blog posts (read it here if you're interested). Here's the more interesting of the two they included:
Customer: Do you sell swimming goggles?
Me: No, I'm afraid we do not.
Customer: And you call yourself a full service bookstore?
I kid you not. Now, it's true that we've branched out a good bit, particularly over the last five years, and we sell quite a few non-book items. Some are more of the usual non-book like journals, stationery, and calendars, but we also carry toys, boardgames and locally- or regionally-made crafts. Still, asking for swimming goggles seemed a little, well, weird.
Here's a call I took last week from a customer on the phone. I've submitted it for the next installment of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores:
Customer: Yes, hello, do you sell drumsticks?
Me: Umm...do you mean the kind you eat or the kind you play drums with?
Customer: The kind you play drums with. Does that mean you sell them?
Me: No, actually we don't carry either one, but I was curious which variety you thought a bookstore might sell. Try the music shop just up the road.
This is a very funny book, and if you've ever worked retail then I'm sure you'll find yourself nodding along to more than one of these bizarre scenarios. It's a nice little package, and at only $15 for the hardcover, it makes a great impulse purchase or gift.