Thursday, June 7, 2007

Somedays You Get the Bear

So yesterday I was feeling aglow with bookseller pride; strutting around like maybe I had learned a thing or two about things literary after a delightful customer experience. I had recently read "Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs and Rock 'n Roll" (National Academy Press, 2000) by May R. Berenbaum, when I had a book order for an entomological tome from a person of the same name. When I sent out the book and confirmed its shipping with an email I mentioned "Buzzwords" and typed out a few lines about how I had enjoyed it. I got a lovely note back from Ms. Berenbaum saying that I had made her day with my comments and thanking me for making hard-to-find books available for people who still want to read them.

With my pufferfish pride I came in to the bookshop today pumped up and ready to sell books by the shovelful. Unfortunately, the other shoe dropped and I had to go into high-octane customer service mode. First I got an email from a customer to whom I had sent the wrong (and expensive) book while in some sort of fugue state last month. After making that right (the correct book goes out tomorrow via priority mail and he can send the original book back postpaid on me)I got three different emails wondering where people's books were. I checked my records and got back to them all, while fielding about ten phone calls from people who wanted to sell ME books and coffee and credit card processing services.

In an attempt to actually dig myself out of my economically deficient mode of bookselling I went through the litany of bookseller voodoo tricks: I went up ladders, I pulled out a sandwich at the desk, I went to the bathroom without the phone in hand, I even debated washing the front windows which would involve both a ladder and lack of phone, but that made me queasy. Still no customers with dollars in hand, just some stroller mommies and people who wanted to ask me questions about the resident store cat.

Time to go home and catalogue some more bug books.

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