Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Snow, lightbulbs and crime.

I worked through this past weekend -- I have no life, I’ll freely admit it -- and because of a snow storm earlier in the week and an ice storm Friday, we were dead Friday night and absolutely insanely busy on Saturday. In between running to help customers and answering the phone that was ringing non-stop, a girl who works for me said with a harried look “this is like a day before a storm.” Typically we get busy before a winter storm as people run like maniacs to the stores. I told her what I’ve also noticed: that right after a winter storm, as soon as the roads clear, people head out in a frenzy similar to the pre storm one to buy buy buy. Fine with me if cabin fever drives our sales.

This weekend we got a lot of adults asking for books on obscure topics (“the history of the light bulb” and “the science of a percolator” were two such requests). Usually there’s a shy school aged child lagging behind who has a book report due the next day and the library is closed. I do a little mental computation to determine if anything in stock matches the subject matter and reading level of what they‘re looking for then trot them over to the kids' science section or to the computer to search for anything even remotely comparable. Chances are, the more particular or obscure your topic is, the less likely if is to be sitting on any bookstore’s shelves waiting for you, especially when little Jimmy has to turn it in by Monday and it’s now Sunday afternoon. I can usually find something for them, either in an adult’s book or in a larger book with broader topics and can order an obscure title, but never within the time they need. For the record, my Edison biography was rejected but my recommendation for the percolator people was enthusiastically seized: Food Network’s Alton Brown I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking (ISBN: 1584790830 Stewart, Tabori & Chang).

The big book of week is Amber Frey’s Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson (ISBN: 0060799250 HarperCollins) which came out last Tuesday. I spent a lot of time trying to gauge how much to reorder. We sold through our initial stack despite my doubts on its legs but it seems to appeal not just to those who want juicy details of the Peterson case but to readers of "he done her wrong" stories. Accordingly, I went a little aggressive on the reorder as I think it will continue for a while at least until the next big scandal.