Saturday, January 26, 2008
Bookstore Lists

Things I Don't Care About

how you are
whether you found everything you were looking for
why you don't want a Fnorders Rewards card
why you're buying this
who it's for
why precisely you do or do not want a bag
anything else that prevents you from moving the fuck down the line and away from my register

My Favorite Romance Novel Titles
(these are all actual titles currently found on our shelves)

To Wed a Scandalous Spy
Succubus On Top
My Immortal Highlander*
Double Dating the Dead
Savor Me Slowly
Nerds Like It Hot
Bedded By Her Lord
Big Spankable Asses

Things That Have Apparently Not Changed Since George Orwell Worked in a Bookstore

"Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop. For example, the dear old lady who 'wants a book for an invalid' (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn't remember the title or the author's name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover."

"Scarcely half the people who ordered books from us ever came back. It used to puzzle me at first. What made them do it? They would come in and demand some rare and expensive book, would make us promise over and over again to keep it for them, and then would vanish never to return. But many of them, of course, were unmistakable paranoiacs."

"In a town like London there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money."

"At Christmas time we spent a feverish ten days struggling with Christmas cards and calendars, which are tiresome things to sell but good business while the season lasts. It used to interest me to see the brutal cynicism with which Christian sentiment is exploited. The touts from the Christmas card firms used to come round with their catalogues as early as June. A phrase from one of their invoices sticks in my memory. It was: '2 doz. Infant Jesus with rabbits'."

"Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening."

And One Thing That Has

"Also it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman."

(George Orwell, Bookshop Memories)

*Highlanders -- as in Scotsmen, not these guys -- are a surprisingly robust sub-genre in the romance section. At first I thought it was just one obsessed author writing about highlanders specifically, but no, there are at least half a dozen, probably more, who've lusted after tartan-sheathed claymores. There are even sub-sub-genres, as in the case noted here, about a vampire highlander. Having seen and met real scotsmen, I can only take this as further evidence that readers of romance novels are dangerously self-delusional and willfully, aggressively divorced from reality.
2:56 PM ::
Amy :: permalink