Monday, September 04, 2006

SB Day: Knowledge Dealer

For this holiday Smart Bitches Day, I have a confession: I’m one of those people. One of those evil booksellers who will point out that the book you’re dithering over whether or not to buy might not be here next time.

Or (*gasp) worse, you might not remember the title the next time you come in, only the lovely blue of the cover, and I, bookseller extraordinaire (*bullshit*), might not be able to help you.

Or, even worse than that, two years from now you might walk into my store and demand this unknown book because it is exactly what you need in that moment in time, and I will be unable to help you because we don’t keep records of what we put on our table. (True story.)

Or multiple times worse than the first scenarios, when you want to finally read it, it might be out of print, and it might be so wonderful and fantastic that you can only find copies on Amazon for fifty bucks or more.

If I’m feeling nice, I might point out that impulse control when it comes to books is highly overrated as you’re guaranteed to probably learn something (new vocabulary, interesting character traits, strange historical facts!) and learning something is better than watching an actor in a TV lab pipette straight from a frickin’ chemical source (and thus contaminating it) instead of pouring out the necessary amount into a beaker or Erlenmeyer flask. Damn you, CSI!

(I love you, CSI. I do, but could you follow proper lab procedure once and a while? It’s amazing all of your cases haven’t been thrown out due to contamination.)

(P.S. that love does not extend to you, CSI: Miami, home of he of the acting crutches and the glasses obsession. You are only good for drinking games based on how often Horatio Caine puts his hands on his hips.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I’m a high pressure bookseller. The evil used car saleswoman of booksellers who waits until you are having a weak moment at the counter to point out all the awful scenarios that might take place if you don’t buy that book now.

But this really has nothing to do with making a sale. I do this out of love, really I do. I firmly believe that my customers will thank me later when they are forced to dig into that huge stack of books next to their bedside or favorite chair because the snow storm/tornado warnings/tropical storm/hurricane/flooding/or some time of personal injury will not allow them to head over to the mall to browse the newest titles and authors we have available. And even if they don’t read the book right away, there is always a chance a friend or family member might be browsing the TBR shelf and stumble across something that calls to them. Something that would not have been there had that person’s friend or family member not broken down in my store, lured by the siren’s call of three books for the price of two or a colorful cover, and purchased said book despite the realization that this might mean the difference between Kraft Mac and Cheese and Annie’s Mac and Cheese.

Rest assured that I, too, suffer from this poor impulse control and the result is that my home shelves are clogged with books that are just waiting for some natural disaster to strike and give me enough time to sit down and enjoy the words on their pages without interruption (or enticement by the next new thing).

How good is your impulse control?


Christine Fletcher said...

Impulse control? You're kidding, right?

I've been doing my drive-by signings (and having a FAB time, BTW, thanks to your most excellent advice back in the spring) and in most of the stores the bookseller and I start talking books, then swapping titles, and the pitch of voices rise in excitement and pretty soon the bookseller is saying, "If you liked that, you'll LOVE..." and then, ten or fifteen minutes or an hour later, I'm staggering happily out of the store with another forty bucks' worth of new babies. Bless their hearts, without exception the bookseller says (as she rings up my purchases), "Looks like we better get busy selling YOUR book, so you can afford these!"

I already had a stack, and it's now grown to truly magnificent proportions. But books are like little orphan puppies (without the housebreaking issues)--I can't just LEAVE them there.

I'm reading stuff I wouldn't have picked out for myself, and so far, not one of the recommended titles has been a bum steer. Sell on!

Anonymous said...

Gee BSC, everyone who reads this blog knows you're a book geek, but now they're going to know that you're a science geek too. Ah the great days of making mashed potatoes in chem lab!
The Druggie

jmc said...

I blogged about this in passing the other day, as I gloated about the books being released in September and October that I want. Poor impulse control. Immediate gratification problem. Book gluttony. :shrugs: It doesn't really matter how I label it, the end result is the ever-growing TBR pile (100+). So says the woman who has 8 books pre-ordered online, but still bought two hardbacks and 5 paperbacks (new or newish releases) in the past week. Not a single one of those books was "pushed" by a member of the bookstore staff, either, so I have no excuse other than my own book-greed.

Hi, my name is jmc, and I am a book-addict.

BuffySquirrel said...

I have too much impulse control. I'd rather do without any book than buy a dud. I hate wasting money on a dud book. Where oh where is the good book I should have bought instead?

Which isn't to say I don't have a TBR pile. Once I have spent my money, I dither over reading the book, in case it's a dud.

I need therapy.

Diane Chamberlain said...

I LOVE booksellers like you! Although I manage to do quite enough damage on my own. I bought seven books in one fell swoop the other day (how many more would I have purchased if a bookseller'd helped me out?) and am merrily making my way through them. (So far I've read MY SISTER'S KEEPER, THE NAMESAKE and a couple that constitute research. I love having that stack on my nighttable. Keep up the good work.

lorraine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lorraine said...

Damn! You mean we're supposed to control our impulses! ::smacks forehead::

Michelle K said...

Impulse control? What's that?

My To Be Read pile is bigger than some people's libraries.

Though I must admit that for new authors, I prefer to buy used. Because it really is frustrating to buy a new book and hate the story.

Eileen said...

I admit it- I am powerless over the addiction of books. Booksellers are my higher power

Vicki said...

My special TBR bookcase is overflowing. There are three rows of books on the shelf for paperbacks. And still... I buy.

Kanani said... I have none. And unfortunately, one thing leads to the next.

For instance. I've recently renewed my interest in Fred Astaire. I've been ordering books, CD's, DVD's, autographed photos. It' messy. I can't stop.

I wish all booksellers were as engaging as you. I think the average sale in your store must be $50.00.