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Then she said…

A woman came into the bookshop a year or so ago. She spoke really fast.
“You got that book about Madeleine McCann? That one about Madeleine McCann? You know, the book about the little girl, Madeleine McCann?”
We told her that Madeleine by Kate McCann was due to be published in May 2011. She returned the following week.
“You got that book about Madeleine McCann?”
The woman continued to return intermittently, always repeating the same questions, always getting the same answer. Eventually the book was published. A few months passed until the customer came in and made her usual request. Triumphantly a bookseller fetched the book and placed it in the customer’s hands. She barely glanced at it.
“No, I don’t think that’s what I’m after.”

A self-published author asked if we had her book. I was pleased to say yes and take her over to the shelf where her book is a face out with a local author sign highlighting it. She was unhappy. She said she wanted her book in the window. I tried to explain that we have many, many books. I could not have been more patient. She flung an arm out and one of her nails left a long scratch on my arm.
“I am old,” she said. “You should put my book in your window. Now what are you going to do about it?”

A woman approached the counter with a book from our 3 for 2 offer.
“Have you got a copy of this book without a sticker on?”
“I can just take the sticker off?”
“I would like one without a sticker on.”
I peeled the sticker off.

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15 responses »

  1. Sometimes I really miss the days I worked in Waterstone's!The first woman sounds like she should be in Little Britain; I must admit that I've kinda done the last one myself. One store used labels which you just couldn't peal off without leaving sticky residue or ripping the front-cover, so I brought my copy back and swapped it for an unstickered one.

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  2. Having dealt with the public as an Antique Dealer, I can only sigh with recognition. The man looking for a stone age axe, or the idiot asking for a discount on a 50p postcard. They are all out there, blinking on the pavements – waiting to make our lives entertaining/a nightmare….

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  3. Ah yeah, that's fair enough – I like my books to be pristine and there was once a dodgy batch of stickers that left gunk on the covers. Now the stickers are easy peel and leave no residue at all. Can't tell they've been there – promise!

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  4. Oh Julia, no discount is ever enough! I like your use of "blinking" – very descriptive 🙂

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  5. Have you ever thought of doing stand up?

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  6. I love these posts of yours, Sara. They positively ooze exasperation. Plus they take me back to my days at Blockbuster.

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  7. I was browsing in Waterstone's the other day and overheard the guy behind the counter explaining to someone on the phone that no, they don't offer price matching with Amazon. The phone went down moments later without further comment.I browsed a little longer, selected something for purchase and walked up to the counter. I so wanted to ask him if he could offer to price match with Amazon.I came *this* close [I'm holding my finger and thumb really very close indeed at this point, you can hardly slip a two-egg pancake between them], I really did. I must've been tired, passing up an opportunity like that.

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  8. "I am old." Is that line that got me. "I am old." There's a thesis right there. Or a novel. Or something."I am old" is better than "I have a knife." Yes. I'm going to start using it. But obviously not in bookshops, I don't think that's on.

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  9. "I am old" sounds like a threat!

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  10. Thanks, Dan. I'm not sure I'm exasperated – I think maybe incredulous. Bob – heehee – you did well! Though I expect the bookseller would not have been surprised.federay and Derek – I think she did say it in a threatening way. And the scratch that accompanied it helped make it even more so! Good luck with using it, federay – let me know if it's a success for you 🙂

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  11. Yikes – life's never dull, is it?On the old age as weaponry – I like the sound of a thesis in that….

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  12. Thanks for sharing these stories….more please!

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  13. Jim – haha – no, I have never considered standup. I'm glad if I made you smile though :)Rachel and Bridget 🙂

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  14. Jesus wept. The things a bookseller has to deal with. Ah, I remember it well.

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  15. Oh my God, what a world of unusual people we have!

    Reply

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