Saturday, January 07, 2006


The big clean up of the store begins and I keep finding lost titles in very odd places. The general public quite often uses us a resource (read: library, research room, place to go to read magazines for free and leave a stack of 15 for the booksellers to reshelve at close) and as often leave their books either in piles on the floor (annoying) or shoved onto the improper shelf from where the books came from (will get you lodging in the 8th circle of the Inferno, bub!) When our customers ask if our books are filed alphabetically I say yes, until we open the doors to the public.

Our store is rather large so when I see a quantity of one in stock on our computers I die a little inside.

Actually I head to the section praying that the blessed book is where it is supposed to be while simultaneously running through my head the range of places it could be from the slightly off to the incredibly stupid. Can’t find Knitting for Dogs (ISBN: 0743270169) in Knitting, let’s try Pets. Steven Millhauser’s wonderfull Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (ISBN: 0679781277) not in fiction under M for Millhauser, see if it’s under D for Dressler. David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster (ISBN: 0316156116) not in essays, try fiction, try nature, try new releases and, gosh darn it, try seafood.

Genre novels hide in fiction; fiction, if the title is off beat, everywhere else. Regional history titles vacation in travel. We have foreign language phrase books in the foreign language section AND in foreign travel. Books that were bestsellers a few weeks and months ago seem to stay around the stacks of current bestsellers like the former High School graduate who keeps hanging around school with nothing better to do. New releases are a good place to look before giving up the search. When I exhaust all that, I just look around the nearby shelves cause people are so %$#@ lazy and dump books where ever the stop looking at them.

I really don’t expect any customer to reshelve our books but the one thing that really boils my asparagus is when someone dumps a book just inches/next to/on top of the empty space/pile of/the gap they just made when they pulled it out too look at it. That, as mom would say, is laziness personified. ( I was going to post a picture here to illustrate my point, but I didn’t want to come off THAT crazed.)

A few years ago when I was at the university store I had this one customer who would drink his single cup of coffee over a huge (10 to 15) pile of books he pulled down then leave us to clean up his mess while he then went to hog our free phone line. Customers reading while sitting in our cafe was not that unusual, but that huge of a pile of books and that he did it every single, was. Some of our staff even had a less than polite name for him, especially the wait staff for whom he left the smallest of tips. One day I was shopping for clothes in a department store when guess whom I discovered was in charge of the men’s department - old Piley himself. He had broken the fifth rule of retail: it’s a lot of work to keep your store neat, thou shall not mess up someone else’s store! I proceeded for the next 30 minutes joyfully and quietly wreck his department. I unfolded as many sweaters as I could find, moved handfuls of shirts to the wrong racks and left piles of clothes strewn over displays. He didn’t see me there (evidentially customer service was not one of his skills either) but when I left, I saw him frowning as he scurried over to fix everything. It was petty and small, but I really enjoyed doing that.