Although my short stint as a book seller was a lifetime ago, I would say the job was a formative period of my career (every job till now is). But I still remember vividly the encounters I had with customers, colleagues, publishers and suppliers.
So, in honor of my friends who are still in very much in the book trade, I present to all, a run down of the things that booksellers would like others to know:
When someone comments,”It must be good working here, you get to read for free.”
Book sellers and librarians alike, do not get to read books because they are there to help customers with their books. And when they aren’t serving customers, they are usually busy with restocking, handling email enquiries, or refreshing the inventory. And, if they really wanted to read a book, they have to check it out, like every other mortal.
When customer goes,”Hi, I’m looking for a book that is A4 size and has an orange spine. I can’t remember the title nor author.”
This surpassed the one that asked for a red cover. The number of titles in a good size book store starts from the thousands. Unfortunately, they aren’t catalogued by spine colors and size. As much as booksellers want to help, there is a limit to what kind of magic they can do.
When someone goes,”How can you not put this book on the bestseller?! It’s such a great book. You need to showcase it!”
Booksellers KNOW which books are bestsellers and which aren’t.
When someone goes jumps the queue to ask a “quick question”
First of all, it is rude. Everyone waited for their turn, no one is special unless of course that person happened to be Ryan Gosling. Secondly, it is never a quick question. Most of the time, the other customers in line are too nice to dispute, but that doesn’t make it right.
When a book becomes famous because it was adapted to movie and vice versa
The heartache that booksellers go through when the customers go,”This is not what happened in the movie.”. They know, that why it’s called an adaptation.
And for those books that were adapted from movie, most of the time, the writing is bad, and the story plot isn’t well developed. The only reason, to cash in, of course.
When customer ask where they can photocopy part of the book
There’s never a best way to tell customers that they can’t photocopy the book. They either apologise, get confused, become sarcastic, or turn violent. All of the above are not what booksellers relish.
When customer treat the book store like a Childcare
Requests from little kids to either borrow the phone to call their parents, or accompany them to the toilet tend to peak on weekends. It blows my mind that parents could just leave their kids all alone in the book store, with no guarantee that any of the staff are watching them, and then go bersek when their kids go missing. There had been a few close calls and I’m glad the children were eventually returned to their parents. But still, it’s just irresponsible parenting.
Grew up in Singapore and stood on the cusp of the internet revolution. My cloud was made up of FTP serves, and I coded in Turbo Pascal (if you know them, you’re probably as old as I am, or older). 🙂
I’m fascinated by all things digital and bear nostalgia towards childhood memories. The comforting sound of the 56K modem, the fun I had with the Nintendo PopEye Handheld, the fights with my siblings over who got to use the land line, and my original Nokia 3310 that’s still sitting somewhere in my mom’s house. Not to mention the colourful food flavours that I grew up with.
The site name originated from my mother. Every time she wanted to tell me something that I may not like, she’ll always start with “Just general talk…”. From her general talks I’ve learned, reflected, and rebutted (a lot). Caused her some (major) heartaches along the way, and still inflicting minor ones on a regular basis.
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