I’ve been a complete blog hermit this summer. Apologies for my absence! I am slooowly getting back into gear with this whole blogging venture.
Partially my absence was due to the fact I’ve been buried in books. That happens when you work at a small, independent bookstore. This summer my boss anointed me as the YA and sci-fi/fantasy buyer, which thrilled me to my toes (and I’ve already talked your ear off about). Goodness me, I have a much greater respect for book buyers now. Do you know how hard it is to choose which books to bring in, especially when you have tiny sections like I do? So hard. Much angst is involved.
Since working at Sunriver Books and Music is what took up most of my time this summer, I thought I would share some of my favorite bookstore moments, memories, and people with you:
I love book shipment days. For my boss, these days are extra stressful because she is the one who has to call New York about missing or damaged books. But for me, every week, twice a week, it felt like Christmas. Seventeen new boxes of books…for me? Why thank you!
There was the day we received, I kid you not, a length of rope from Random House as a promotion for Fifty Shades of Grey. My coworker and I just collapsed in laughter. When I asked my boss what in the world we should do with it she said, “Well, just put in the closet. Rope is always useful.”
I get ridiculously excited when someone buys one of my favorite books, to the point I may have scared a few customers. I often forget my job is to sell books to, you know, bring in money. Most of the time I think my job title is “book evangelist.” My mission is to put as many of my favorite books into as many people’s hands as possible.
You can imagine my exuberant joy when a teen came up to the counter with The Book Thief and The Fault in Our Stars. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Two of my favorite books ever! Al;djal;sjkdflas;jf;lsjk!
Girl: Me too! I’ve actually already read them but I have to own my own copies.
Me: Have you read John Green’s other books as well?
Girl: Oh yeah! But The Fault in our Stars is my favorite.
Me: Me too!
Girl: Wait…are you a nerdfighter?
EEEeeee! I met a nerdfighter in real life! We were both a bit stunned and lost for words by the fact, to the point that I forgot to tell her “don’t forget to be awesome” when she left. But nevertheless, it made my day.
In August I received, as the official fantasy buyer, a box of The Hobbit promotional materials, the jewel of which was a big glossy catalog full of all the various Tolkien editions. I just sat at the counter slowly flipping through the pages, squeaking to myself. Yes, I brought in new versions of all of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. So pretty.
There was the day a little tot came up to me and asked, “Where are the tiny books?”
A shy middle schooler came in asking for The Wizard Heir, which we were out of so I had to apologetically send him away. He came back on shipment day and bought it out of the box before we had a chance to put it on the shelf and then returned two days later for The Dragon Heir. Voracious Kid Readers: You Rock.
Early in the summer, I decided to bring in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer because the movie had just come out. My boss, a devout literary fiction reader, just couldn’t believe it. “What will the regulars think when they see I let that into the store?” All I said was, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
A mom came in and proceeded to gleefully embarrass her son, who was away at college. Apparently, he loves YA and his mom wanted us to send him a book care package but she didn’t know what he’d already read. She called him up and started the conversation with, “I’m standing in the bookstore right now and this cute girl is helping me pick out books for you…” and then put her hand over the phone and mock-whispered to me, “I’ve embarrassed him.” She later put me on the phone to get his dorm address. Those rascally moms.
I was so lucky to get a new coworker this summer who happens to like all the same kinds of books as me. Now we have two people on staff that read YA and sci-fi/fantasy! She turned out to be an awesome handseller as well, so I’d bring in the books and she’d sell them. You know you’re a good handseller when you can convince customers to buy The Way of Kings. I think Brandon Sanderson is an awesome author, but give me a break! The Way of Kings has a cover that is so stereotypically EPIC FANTASY it can probably do magic itself. And it is 1,280 pages long. 1,280 pages!! She sold it not once, but multiple times. My sections wouldn’t have been nearly as successful this summer without her help.
Of course, like any job, it isn’t always butterflies and rainbows (I could tell you customer stories you wouldn’t believe). But it is lovely moments and people like these that keep us going.
I’d like to send out a big THANK YOU to all of you who buy books from real-life indie bookstores. We love you!