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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Is Why Your Used Bookstore Clerk Hates You

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Although bookstore workers love their customers, or are at least morally obligated to, sometimes the love is so great it turns murderous. Ever tried to finish all-you-can-eat coconut shrimp? That's the love we're dealing with here. Although your narrator worked at a used bookstore just outside of the city more than a decade ago, he shut his eyes tight, remembered three years of Fat Slice Pizza, and relived some moments of quiet desperation.

You Stole All Our Bukowski
It's hard to keep Bukowski on the shelf when he keeps getting stuffed in the pants of street punks when no one is looking (but we are looking!). Although punks love him (he's so easy to read) so does the staff (Hank worked a menial job for years, drank an eternity, and still ended up famous). He provides hope for apprentice alcoholics who are going to start writing sometime tomorrow or Thursday for sure. If you do steal him, please sell him back to us when you're finished.

You're Spending Too Much Time in the Erotica Section
Huh, and you're totally and creepily not moving.

You Camp Out in the Self-Help Section
What is it about the self-help section that attracts people who take off their shoes and eat fruit salad right in the stacks? Or what is it that doesn't attract them, amirite? Though we don't mind you blocking the aisle, making your little piles of books and scribbling action items in your notepads (this means we can avoid the section), at least tidy up when you're finished for the night. This goes for everyone in the spiritualism section, too. See you all tomorrow.

You're Asleep
You know that's weird, right? Barnes & Noble may have the square footage to stock recliners, but used bookstores don't. Used bookstores use their space to sell books. Ever notice how much empty air a superbookstore contains that could be going to books? Of course you don't, because you're asleep on our footstool.

You Were Our Favorite English Professor
Oh look, it's the bastard who inspired us to skip a useful degree for one in contemporary American fiction, here to again dash through the store with a comely grad student in tow and witness, once again, how well we are doing with our crack alphabetization. Looking for Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex? Try the Ds. College!

You Smell, Sir


Golden Gate Park does not shrink from an unwashed human; a cramped bookstore with adorable little alcoves does. Scent creeps. A tangy human can infect an entire store by the time he's made it to the graphic novel section, and the store will remain hot until long after he's made his way back aboard the bus home. Don't make us ask you to leave, because we won't -- we hate conflict, which makes us hate you even more.

You Don't Check Your Bag
Ah, the little rebellions that go into a day's shopping -- we get it. We don't always Lávese Las Manos in the store bathroom either. But understand these are devil eyes we're looking at you with, and while only the gutsiest of us are screaming Hey how about you CHECK YOUR BAG, everyone is thinking it.

You Check Everything You Own
Please don't make us put your bedroll or "pack" behind the counter. We appreciate the gesture, but we don't want it. If you have the balls and sleight of hand to squeeze some Bukowski in there with half the staff watching, consider it a farewell present.

You Ask for a Discount -- Every Time
Ah, you've figured out that tracking used-book inventory is like trying to catch a waterfall, and that pricing used books is not a science -- one pricer's $5.98 is another's $10.98. (Perhaps you saw a clerk set the pricing gun at $5.98 and let it ride for a whole afternoon, like more than a decade ago in Berkeley?) Granted, sometimes we like it when a person gets up the guts to ask for a few bucks off -- we like guts. But every time? Don't do that. We feel like you're onto us, and we don't like feeling onto.

You're Selling Us Books
Do you have a car trunk full of paperback genre fiction? A single copy of Eat, Pray, Love? Anything by John Gray? Three years of Nat Geo? A textbook, for God's sake? Do you not understand why a $24.95 Stephen King book from 1997 is worth approximately $0 now? We can go on, but someone beat us to it. But if you're selling us Bukowski -- or Freedom, for that matter -- name your price.

You Want to Know if We Sell Calendars
Yes, we do. And we hate you for asking, because we hate being a gift shop during the Christmas season. Now sell us your used Ham on Rye so we can feel vital again.

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Michael Leaverton


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