Author’s note: This post is inspired by a great little book called Manual Prático de Bons Modos em Livrarias (A Practical Guide to Good Bookstore Manners) by a Brazilian writer (and bookseller!) who goes by the nickname Hillé Puonto. Her awesome blog (in Portuguese) can be found here.
Be an asshole.
It almost goes without saying, right? But you’d be surprised how people treat those in retail. That’s why it’s never a superfluous reminder: Treat your bookseller like you’d like to be treated, talk to him/her like you’d talk to a guest in your house.
Now, apply that to life and, voilá, you’re a nicer person.
Have no idea what you’re looking for.
“I want a book…from that author…the title has ‘wind’ in it…or was it ‘hand’? I don’t know, but it was on TV last week, the author is a man, the cover is white…or maybe yellow.”
Can you imagine how many times a day a bookseller goes through this? Just google it and write down the name of the book or the author. Your local bookseller is not a mind reader.
Never accept a suggestion.
It’s pretty much like ladies and their wardrobes: surrounded by books, but nothing to read…. Readers, you know the drill: You’re looking for that great new book you’ve never heard of. Luckily for you, one of the bookseller’s main roles is to help a book find its reader. All you have to do is put your faith in them and go with their recommendation. They most often know what they’re talking about.
Interrupt a phone call.
Is your bookseller on the phone? Believe me, chances are the person on the other side of the line is a customer, not a BFF. Wait your turn. Same applies for when they’re helping another customer inside the store. Unless you’re on a mission to save the world from imminent destruction, you wait.
Mess with book placements.
Yes, the books are organized they way they are for a reason. Don’t meddle. And, by the way, if you’re a published writer and are considering discreetly moving your book somewhere so people can see it better…just don’t.
Pretend not to understand the ‘out of print’ thing.
You’re looking for a book. The bookseller has searched the system and returns saying, “sorry, we don’t have a copy in store and the title is out of print.” This means what it means — don’t make it difficult.
Try looking for used copies somewhere else, try the internet. Don’t expect the bookseller to solve the problem for you — that’s not what he/she does.
Expect the unreasonable.
It’s common for bookstores, especially in the US, to sell DVDs, toys, pens, gift cards, paper articles, etc, in addition to books. But when you want to buy a shoe, you go to a shoe store. Medicine? Pharmacy. Food? The deli. That brand new travel backpack? Luggage store. Books? That’s right, a bookstore!
Keep it simple, don’t expect Shakespeare and Co. to sell headphones. That’s what Amazon’s for.
Leave your children unattended.
They’ll be sold to the circus. Or given shots of espresso.