Thursday, February 08, 2007

Confessions of a (so not recovering) Book Junkie

I’m going through book withdraw, have been going through it for the last month, but it has become very clear since I haven’t had any books to touch at all. In the last days of the store closing, whether or not we had something became a guessing game—a treasure hunt—and it almost masked the symptoms of bookus withdrawus.


The little echo of book want would still come out in our voices when we tried not to snap at a customer, “No, of course we don’t have that book. We haven’t gotten a new shipment since Christmas,” or, “That’s not out yet, and we’re not going to get it before we close.” You could feel it in the way our fingers would begin to itch when we’d talk about a title not yet released. The desire to reshelve the items strewn about by the foraging customers was hard to muster because it wasn’t a matter of moving old titles to make room for new ones.

These were all old. Stale. Not new and shiny and written up everywhere.

Over and over again, this is how it went: “Sorry, much loved classic or golden oldy. It’s not you. It’s me. I just need a little variety in my life. A little something new, different. Some fresh, young thing to show me a good time. You understand, don’t you? I’ll always come back to you. But this book—this book gives me the more I need now.”

I was a frickin’ book junkie! Always looking for the next fix, the next new thing. Sure, nine out of ten times it might not even be something I wanted to read, but I needed the knowledge of the title. I needed to hold it in my hands and feel the paper and the deckled edges. Trace my hands along the embossing and play with the jacket flaps.

No wonder my TBR piles reached the ceiling and yet I kept buying, kept making lists. “Remember to check out this one,” I’d tell myself, “and don’t forget to skim through that one at lunch.”

And ARCs! Don’t even get me started on ARCs. They were a shot of book heroin, spiked with the added ingredients of having access to a title way before my customer base would.

Now that I’m out I’m going through withdraw. I have a box of books that I purchased before the store closed. You’d think a box of books would be able to keep me distracted and happy for a least a few days, wouldn’t you? But no, it’s not enough. It’s never enough. Suddenly there all these books in the stores that I don’t know about, have never processed or seen the cover. Suddenly I can’t scan my eyes over a section and pick out all the new titles because there are so many of them! I become disorientated, dizzy. I need to sit down.

I need to stay away from the shopping baskets and my credit card for Twain’s sake because I’m not making any money now!

Looking back (with all the hindsight of a week, sheesh), it’s amazing to me how much book knowledge I absorbed by just handling the receiving. Just the act of pulling a book out of a box and scanning the cover was enough to trigger something in my mind: remember this, the title’s going to be a hard one for customers; oh, this one is going to be one of the mysterious blue ones customers are looking for; this one, this one is front table fodder. Some of these titles I held for no longer than four or five seconds—just enough time to pull them from the box and toss them into the correctly labeled bin—but it gave me what I needed to do my job.

(Reason #326 why you should have your inventory person passing on their knowledge to the people working the floor.)

I haven’t been into a bookstore lately. I’m afraid. Being in Powells with the Written Nerd was easy enough because there are so many books (I just let the book blindness take over and tuned most of it out), but I don’t want it to be like that. I want to be able to go into bookstores and talk to the people working the floor about what they like and don’t like about displays. I want to browse outside and talk about what works and what doesn’t in window set-ups. I want to be able to talk to y’all as one who is now on the outside without maxing out my credit cards because I don’t have the willpower to be in a bookstore for five seconds without buying something.

I want to actually read that box of books I bought instead of just adding them to the TBR pile.

I want my will power back…if I ever had any to begin with.

But most of all…(I’m so ashamed)…Most of all I want that book knowledge again. I want to know what’s coming out and how it’s doing. I want that invisible little book antennae to start gathering up book knowledge again.

I want what I can’t have unless I go back to work for a bookstore which I will not do because I don’t want to be Retail’s bitch anymore. I did it for seven years.

I want to have some control. What ever the hell that is. You’re opinions on the subject are always welcome.


And on a completely unrelated topic from before: so far I’ve got a couple of votes for bloglines being a good blog aggregator and one vote for Google reader. I remember hearing that one of these was slow to update, but I can’t remember which one, so if anyone else wants to share their thought I would love to hear about other options. And/or the definitive pluses and minuses for each program.

Because why ever would I want to actually research this on my own when I have the collective brain power of all you readers?
Also, new blogger hates me. Haaaaaates me. The feeling is mutual however.


lady t said...

I went thru the same thing myself last year,after leaving my former bookstore job of eight years. Going into a bookstore with limited funds and having to look at all the new shiny books unavailable to's like a scene out of a Dickensian film where improvished children stare at baked goods in shop windows longingly before being chased away by the owner or the local beadle!

Just take it in stride,BSC. One day at a time. I'm still looking for work but trying to keep things going in other areas. Do consider e-mailing requests to publishers for ARCS to review. You've got enough clout with this blog to have a publicist be more than willing to get your stamp of approval for the next big thing in books:)

Andrea said...

For what it's worth, I've been using the Google Reader for a while now to gather up my blogs and webcomics, and I've been very happy with it. No problems to report so far, and plenty of little things that make reading the RSS feeds nice and easy.

Christine Fletcher said...

As far as ARCs, I'll be happy to send you one for my next novel, if you like. You'll have to wait until late this year/early 2008 -- if you can make it that long!

Wonderful post.

Tracy Grand said...

If you haven't tried it yet, I'd like to suggest that you take a look at JacketFlap's blog reader, which is focused on the children's publishing industry, though you can add any blog, much like Bloglines or Google reader. As you may be aware, Bookseller Chick is one of our featured blogs. Here's what your blog looks like in our reader:

And, here's a sneak preview of a new version of our reader which includes a blog's comments:

I've followed your blog for some time now, and I really love reading what you have to say about this business. Keep up the great work!


BuffySquirrel said...

Ah, book love. Sigh.