Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ah, Bookstores...

Chain bookstores are a favourite whipping boy for some authors and readers with over-developed opinions of themselves and, perhaps not surprisngly, small struggling indy bookstores.

But I've spent enough time in bookstores, new and used, small and large, miniscule and gargantuan, to realize not all indies are pure gold. Especially the ones that smell of old cat pee and smug pretension.

Let's face it: not all bookstore employees are English majors. Now get over it.

In big chains, morons can obviously still slip through the hiring filters, but they seldom last. In small indies, however, there often aren't any filters at all -- they just hire relatives and friends and friends of friends. Who may not exactly be candidates for Mensa either.

Plus they linger there forever. After all, how do you fire your sister-in-law?

Mind you, having worked the other side of the counter, I now realize the shocking truth.

You think some bookstore employees are dumb?

You should see some of the customers.

"Hi, where's that book they made that movie from at?"
"What movie?"
"I forget the title but it has that guy in it, everyone's talking about it."
"That guy?"
"Yeah, he was also in that other movie with that other guy, you know, the one that went out with that girl from the TV show?"
"That girl? Marlo Thomas?"
"Who? No, man, that girl on FRIENDS."
"She's in the movie?"
"No, but the same guy she was going out with was in that other movie? Some guys are chasing him? In some big city, I think it's New York or maybe LA?"
"And you don't remember the title?"
"Well, it was on sale the last time I was here. You must have moved it."
"When was this?"
"I dunno. Around the holidays? Don't you keep records? "
"Sorry, I really don't remember."
"You must be new here."
"I've worked here three years. Do you remember the author of the book?"
"No, but they made a movie from it."
"You don't remember anything else?"
"It's got yellow on the cover."
"Sorry, sir, that doesn't help much."
"Well, you're not being very helpful. I want to talk to the manager."

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