From the bookshop

Between extra shifts at the bookshop, studying and trying to prepare for BCLT Summer School, I’m having a pretty busy time at the moment. On the bright side, I’m feeling good about my dissertation for once – I got a reasonable chunk of it written last week and now I’m ahead of schedule, hooray!

As I’m spending so much time in the shop at the moment, I thought this might be a good opportunity to write about some of the more interesting interactions I’ve had with customers recently. Here are a few from the past couple of weeks.

Customer: Do you have any How-to books?
Me: Yes, we have a few. What particular subject area are you interested in?
Customer: I don’t know.
Me: Well, what kind of thing do you want to learn how to do?
Customer: Anything, really…


Customer (very early in the morning): Excuse me, where can I find this book in paperback?
Me (lacking tea and feeling vaguely confused): Um. In the future?
Customer: The Future. Right. How do I get there?

Customer: Do you sell bibles?
Me: Yes, we generally have a couple of editions in stock. Shall I show you where they’re shelved?
Customer: You ought to carry more than that, you know. It is the best-selling book ever.
(Then he left without looking at them. I genuinely don’t know if he wanted to buy a bible or if he was just checking on our in-store bible situation)

Customer: Do you have any books of wedding readings?
Colleague: No, I’m afraid we don’t sell anything like that. We have a couple of collections of love poems, if that would help?
Customer: Well, can you recommend me any readings? What’s a nice poem to read at a wedding?
(We suggest various things)
Me: Some people like Oh The Places You’ll Go, by Dr Seuss?
Customer: Oh, no. I don’t think that will work for them. (leans over the counter and whispers, as if telling a dreadful secret) She’s Australian.

And then there are the innumerable ‘do you sell…?’ requests, which range from the commonplace (‘do you sell newspapers?’ – no, but there’s a WH Smith a few doors down) to the slightly unlikely, to the frankly bizarre.

Customer: Do you sell iPhone cases?

Customer: Do you sell soft drinks?

Customer: Do you sell painkillers?

Customer: Do you sell lip balms for children shaped like cupcakes?

Customer: Do you sell washing lines? (This one did not happen to me, but to a colleague).

Customer: Do you sell canal boats?
Me: Um? No?
Customer: Toy ones, I mean.

Feel free to add your own bookshop stories in the comments!

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6 Responses to From the bookshop

  1. Alex Rau says:

    OMG – been there! We’ve run an open shop for almost 30 years. One of my more favorite requests was: “where is your Czechoslovakian graveyard section?”

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