I don’t miss retail. Not one single bit. See earlier post about keeping a smirking “fuck you” defensiveness handy at all times. Big relief to not have to deploy that as much now. I feel for all my comrades who did time at McNally Robinson, Pulp Fiction, etc…
Here is how a book buyer sees your stupid store:
- Hardcover Best-Seller Front Table: This is a coat rack and coffee holder. Never mind these other books, I just want to flip through the new Eggers, scoff at the price, and leave after spilling a little coffee on whatever book jacket looks the cleanest. No, I don’t need a napkin! Pssshhh! I’ll just push the coffee off the book with my hand. DUH! Why don’t you be a little more conscious about the environment?
- Bookseller at Front Register: An idiot who’s wasting my time. NO! I don’t want your help. I’m just looking at your books so I can remember them and buy them at another store that’s cheaper. Oh, but I just remembered: Do you have that book with the green cover that came out in the 1960s? You know, the one about the guy who could see things? No? Well, you should really carry it. NOOOO! I DON’T WANT TO ORDER IT! I’m saying you should READ that book and KEEP it here so I can see it whenever I come in. Someone will buy it. It’s good for your store to keep the right books in stock. UUGHHGGHH, what is wrong with you?? No. I still don’t remember the name.
- Cat: My favorite part of the store. The only reason I come in and the only being in the store worth talking to. I can tell you my secrets, can’t I, little guy? Now where is your café so I can complain to the Health Board that there shouldn’t be a cat here!!!
- Chair: Ahhhh, a nice relaxing spot where I can crinkle up every magazine, then put them back on the shelf… Perhaps I can bring my niece here so she can climb all over this chair and break it.
- Children’s Section: Oh! Look how beautiful these Sendak books are. I loved these soooooo much as a child. The only thing to do now is scatter them all over the floor so more people can remember how messy their childhood bedrooms were when these books were scattered on their floors. There. That’s better.
- Countertop at Register: A space with no books! I must put my purse on it. You don’t mind if I leave a bunch of bags here with you for a while, do you? I just did a lot of shopping, and I can’t carry all these items I bought around with me while I run more errands. I will buy this 75-cent postcard and be on my way. I should be back in 10 or 15 days for my things. Thanks!
- Back Office Where Bookseller Is Clearly on His Lunch Break: Here’s someone who can help me, even though I’m standing next to another employee on duty. Do you— oh, finish swallowing before you look at me, cretin! Do you have quarters for the meter outside?
- Shelves: I will constantly run around these, doing figure eights for 20 minutes, insist that I’m not looking for anything, then finally ask for something, bring it to the front, and impatiently sigh when I’m not getting rung up immediately.
- Owner: Someone whose business I can save with my book! Yes, that’s right. I’m an author. I wrote an instructional book about yoga that can only be done over the mouth of a volcano. It’s kind of niche, and I printed the copies by hand on recycled napkins. You know, the environment and all. You should carry my book. I’d love to do weekly events here! I know you don’t have a volcano to do the yoga over, but we can improvise. Maybe a small fire pit in the children’s section? Let me know!