First off, some book news that maybe some of you can use. If you haven’t read this post by Booksquare on selling through Amazon to reach more people then you’re missing out, especially if you’re a self-published author. Nine times out of ten when I can’t find a book in the store system, my customer will ask me to just jump on Amazon and look there. They view it as the largest book search system in the world, and anything that does not pop up starts to lose validity with them. So, if you are a self-pubbed/small press author and you want to have your book on Amazon without losing a huge chunk of your profit, go read that post. Maybe this is something that is universally known and I’m just falling behind, but I thought I should put it out there.
Secondly, I’m sorry if my last post gave the impression that I would stop posting after the store closed. I’ve got way too much stuff that I promised to do for y’all on this blog to quit in thirty days! I just can’t give any thoughts on marketing or blockbusters from the behind-the-scenes angle because I’m no longer receiving any of that stuff. The idea that I might not receive anymore free books or be allowed to touch/read the street dates before they come out is giving me hives, man, HIVES. And don’t even get me started about how I feel about losing my discount. Certain members of my family and friend group are already going into mourning.
We’re all going to suffer from a literary decline. Oh to the woe, etc, etc.
We made a decision to not mention our closing to any of our customers before Christmas because, well, it was just too depressing. The signs and the manual explaining the process hadn’t shown up yet, and we were all in a state of denial (an example of which being when I had a twenty minute conversation with a man who recruits for a big company—something he told me four times—and I never asked for his card). We told a few mall employees to get the dirt on what they’d heard—not a whole hell of a lot—but that was it. After Christmas was another story, the signs and the manual still hadn’t shown up, but one of my coworkers worked her mad Word Pad skills and made us something to put up around the store indicating that we were a.) closing and that b.) this meant everything was now discounted. It was then that the denial had to take a back seat to answering questions.
“You’re closing? Why are you closing?”
“They’re going to transfer you to the other store, right?”
“What are they going to put here instead?”
But for every customer who expressed genuine sorrow over our closing or interest in our continued welfare, there was one who said:
“Wait, you mean I’m going to have to walk a few more blocks? But this was so convenient!”
Yes, dear sir or madam, and you are. It’s our company’s way of helping the good fight against obesity in America. Now, if that is your only problem with our closing, please move out of the way so that I can help a customer who will actually miss us and not our convenient location. Next, please!
I mean, I know that it is just a clash of self-interests (mine and the customer’s) that makes that statement so unbearable to me, and that they don’t mean it as a back hand to any and all customer service we’ve provided over the years, but after four or five people repeating verbatim the same thing it starts to get old. When I’m averaging nine or ten people per shift saying that though, it leaves me depressed and bitter.
And I’m not the only one.
It’s damn hard to be motivated when I know that this place I enjoyed coming to—filled with people I enjoyed working with—will be closing soon. The signs are up, and the people are asking questions we can’t answer, so it all begins to sound like a broken record. We’re just starting to get our rhythm back, pulling the stock from the back that sat ignored due to sheer volume before Christmas and starting the returns list. Returning static stock and stripping covers remains cathartic, and eminent demise has led to a relaxed (but still presentable) dress code.
There are still things to take care, still work to be done, and that day to day sense of accomplishment is slowly coming back. But, man, those “you mean I have to walk a few blocks” customers may well turn me into a bitter hag, or at least crack the customer service smile off my face.
I would really hate to end my bookselling career with a News at 11 update “Bookseller loses sanity, rampages through mall!” Think of how it would adversely affect my future job opportunities.
I’d rather not have the judicial system plan my life, but it would offer a great answer to those customers who ask, “What are you doing next?”
Thank you for all your well wishes, and thoughts. Reading your comments over the last couple of days made me alternately well up and smile. Y'all make me feel good, so please excuse the bitter. I'll get over it soon enough.