Monday, December 22, 2008

No Escape

I was driving home from work a couple of days ago - having worked hard all day polishing my leather and pricing my portfolios, when the 6pm news came onto Radio 4.

Bearing in mind that this is the National news, I was somewhat irritated to hear my friends at Oxfam getting the following 2 minute news item.

Apparently a shop managed to sell a copy of Sylvia Plath's "Ariel" for £350. After a discussion about the bookshop, there were quotes from Oxfam saying how this was a vast amount of money and would do a tremendous amount of good for the poor of the world.

Quite apart for the tiny percentage of this that will get anywhere near any needy recipient - since when did the sale of a £350 book make the main National news of the day ? I wish I had their marketing and PR department - no wonder it costs them 15% of charity income.

Department Store

"Are these Christmas Decorations for sale ?"

"No madam, they are our Christmas decorations"

"What about this Buddha Statue ?"

"No madam, just the books are for sale"

"So its only the books then ?"

"Yes Madam"

"That's a pity" as she walks out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tarzan and the Irritating Idiot

"Do you have any tarzan books ?"

"Yes sir, we have early editions here, they are £4 pounds each"

"Oh good - well that's good to know. I won't buy them as I have brought something recently."

Not a chance in hell !


Quoth the merry chap, clutching a book he had brought from a charity shop (pah)

"I know you do internet sales... Would you wrap this up and post it to my brother, its his christmas present".....

No prizes for guessing my response.

more wasting of time

"Hello, I have been searching for a book for 50 years, it's Ballantyne, the Gorilla Hunters. I had a copy as a boy. When I left for national service, my mother gave it away. I've been looking for it ever since - I doubt you will be able to help me, nobody has been able to."

"Yes sir, we have a 1907 copy here, in excellent condition for £4"

"Oh have you......"

Can anyone fill in what happened next ?

Mission Accomplished

"Hello, Do you stock miniature books"

"Yes Madam, they are in this cabinet here..."

"Oh I don't want to look at them. I am going to see my aunt at Christmas, and I want to be able to tell her I looked for them."

Walks out of shop into Dante's 13th circle of hell (reserved for timewasters).

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rubbing it in Even More

Most people who know me, are aware that Oxfam are my least favourite charity (at least in part because of their rampant destruction of the book trade). The local Oxfam Bookshop have almost managed to bankrupt us, but I am still hanging on in there. I had two conversations with the manager of the bookshop.

In the first, he was bemoaning his lot - having to deal with so many donations of useless books - "And they know they are useless - they shouldn't be donating them to us - we only want saleable books". Apparently I didn't understand how hard it was dealing with this each day. I pointed out, that most of the people donating to him, have already tried to get money from me for the same books, and are outraged when I can't pay for them - so yes, I understand, but think he is being ungrateful. As a seriously struggling bookshop, we would love to be able to take several hundred pounds of income each day from purely donated books - but sadly - we have to pay for every book we get.

The second phone call was because a woman had arrived with a pile of saleable books - but they didn't have room to take them in. I thought he was about to suggest we received them - but no, he wanted to know if i had the phone number for another book charity that operates on the towm - as he felt they were good enough for them to make a fair bit from them.

My face feels as if it has been well and trully rubbed in it !!!

Lost in Translation

A woman walks into the shop, and asks for Mike Mc somebody. I tell her that we have no-one of that name.

"But you must have. i was listening to Radio Four, and they were saying how this chap worked for Connected Books of Salisbury, and that he was very good at finding rare books".

"No madam, there is no bookshop of that name here - we are now one of only two bookshops in the whole County."

"It must be here - I was listening very carefully"

"Madam, do you like that perhaps they were talking about a gentleman from a bookshop in Salisbury Conneticut ?"

"Oh no - I wouldn't make a mistake like that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thick skins

Chap comes in. He has been a pain in the neck for a long time - always wanting discounts, free books etc:

He recently ordered two books - then decided he only wanted one of them - costing me £20.

"I'd like you to order me in a book"

"I'm not very keen after last time"

"What do you mean?"

"Well I got you two books - and you only paid for one. The other cost me money and I can only sell it for a fraction of this"

"Well that's not my problem - I took one of them"

"Yes but you ordered two - I have to buy books in - I can't get them on approval"

"Just send it back and say you've changed your mind"

"But i haven't changed my mind - and I can't just return books because customers are unreliable - there is postage to be paid in each direction"

"Not my problem - now are you going to order this book for me?"

..............I don't think i will be seeing him again.

Free Valuations

Friendly voice from a neighbouring town (30 miles away) called.

"afternoon - I'd like you to come and value my books"

"Are they for sale"

"No, I'd just like to know their value"

"well we would have to charge you a fair bit of money to drive out and do that"

"Oh, don't you do it for free ? I'm not willing to pay anything for it. Won't you just come and tell me what they are worth?"


Don't rub it in.

chap walks in and stands at the door. I've never seen him before. He doesn't actually bother looking at the shelves.

"Good morning" he says, "I hear an Oxfam bookshop has opened up, can you tell me where it is please ?"

I just told him - I couldn't even be bothered to rant about how they are destroying the book trade. I must be losing it.

Change of Mind

Chap walks in and asks "I gave away a book a year ago - can you tell me what its worth now please."

Letter from America

This is a real email I received recently.
I don’t even need to comment.

“I was in Salisbury about a year ago and bought a book in your store, only to accidentally leave it on the plane. I was so disappointed. I cannot remember the name of the book, but it had a black cover, I
do believe. It was a Juvenile’s book. I very much want to order this
book. Can you suggest to me which one it might be? Thanks! S__ T___, U.S.A.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cheap and (sometimes) cheerful

A big thank you to the American book dealer, who requested a trade discount on a 50p book, and that it be sent at cost, as they didn't agree with making money on postage.

Sadly I don't agree with selling to them - so the book has been thrown away !!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Car Wreck

I was reminded of this yesterday - although it happened about a year ago.

Innocently driving home, and about half a mile from the shop, I managed to ram a truck, and although there were no injuries, I managed to write off my car. Friendly canine was on the back seat howling at all the fuss outside. Van driver is not too happy that his truck has a large dent in the side, and the police have arrived to get the street moving again.

In the midst of all this, a man walks up to me with a plastic bag.
"You've save me a trip, I was just on the way to see if you would buy these books"

"Not at the moment, I am a little tied up..."

"Won't you just have a quick look at them"

I shan't type what I said - but he hasn't been into the shop since (And that is no loss !!)

Waiting for Sales

One of my more irritating customers (I use the term through gritted teeth - not sure he has ever actually bought anything)was drooling over a book I had just put out yesterday. A first edition hardback in mint wrapper, on farming in England. A whole £5.

"Oh this is lovely" he slobbered. "If you still have it in January, I'll snatch your hand off for it in your half price sale"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Royal Rubbish

Man walks in with a carrier bag full of newspapers and puts them on the counter and asks for a valuation.

"I'm sorry, we don't buy newspapers"

"But you haven't even looked at them"

"I can see they are newspapers, and we don't buy newspapers"

"But these aren't newspapers, they have articles and front pages on the royal family"

"That makes them worse - as a fervent Republican who would shoot the lot of them just after the politicians and before the clergy, I have moral objections to books on the land and title grabbing aristocracy"

"Royalty are very popular with collectors"

"Not in this shop - I can only sell royal items that are early Victorian or before - perhaps 1850 or earlier".

"Yes, some of these are that old, look...." (Pulls out a 1956 newspaper with an aricle on Queen Elizabeth).

"Is that the oldest"


(He gathers his bags and exits stage left)
(Only one of these lines has been made up)

All at Sea

"Hello, we have three books on the Royal Navy, how much would you pay for them"

"Have you got them with you ?"

"Oh no, they are much too heavy"

"Who are they by"

"Don't know, we've never read them"

"And the titles ?"

"No idea"

"Well are they part of a set, or are they individual books ?"

"How are we supposed to know - I told you we hadn't read them...."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Random violence

Elderly chap in tweed and burgundy cords marches into the shop, walks to the counter and raps his cane on the desk.

"How's business then ?"

"Oh fine - and how much is your pension paying you each week ?"
(One day I will have the nerve to say rather than think it).

"Get yourself a gun or a damn heavy shillaleagh. Its going to get ugly out there. The plebs don't realise how bad things are going to get. They'll be riots. Better prepare yourself"

And marches out.


"Hello, I'd like you to give me a valuation please for these Reader's Digest Condensed Volumes"

"Am afraid they have no value at all, you can't even give them away"

"Even though they are first editions ?"

"But they aren't first editions madam, they are Reader's Digest"

"But the are First Edition Thus - first Reader's Digest issue"

"So that makes them a re-print madam"

"Even though they are covered in mock leather covers ?"

"I'm afraid fake leather doesn't enhance value madam, it takes real leather for that"

"So no value then"

"Not even charity shops can sell them madam"

"Well i'll take them to a charity shop then"

I wouldn't mind so much, but quoting first edition and first thus at me - she obviously understands the terms and what they mean.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Helpful Soul

Following a phone call from a charity shop (No not Oxfam) about a book, a woman arrived at the shop with the "ancient volume" for me to value on their behalf. Of course this was a completely dead 1960's piece of worthless tat, but never mind.

Having told her this (Very gently) I was about to return to my work when she commented that she had another 3 crates of books in her car outside for me to look at.

Although I nearly began my "Charity shops are bankrupting me" rant, I thought I would just be nice, and look at them for her. So i went out, and rummaged through the boxes, and gave her a few suggested prices for the better books, and suggested that she give the rest to a charity shop she didn't like.

Although it is tempting to leave this as a tale of the presumption and cheek of the charity sector, sadly due to my policy of truth and honesty I can't.

She produced a box of chocolates and big thanks for my time. I felt most touched, and only afterwards wondered who would have eaten the chocolates if I hadn't agreed to go out and value the crates of books.

But please local charities - don't take this as a suggestion that you all come along with you books for me to value. With 22 charity shops in the town centre, I wouldn't have time to do anything else.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Returns Policy

Telephone call from a lady

"Hello can I have the address to return a book please"

Having given her the address - I asked which book and what the problem is.

"Oh I can't remember, I buy so many - I brought it a month or two ago, but I haven't opened the parcel"

"Well why are you returning it"

"Oh i just don't want it any more...."



Chap comes into the shop.

"Hello, I've come to sell these" as he proffers a pile of weekly magazines about the Vietnam war - which build up to make a magnificent collection of the weapons, battles and personalities of the war in 36 weekly parts - beautifully held together in a faux leather binding.

Actually he hadn't bothered with the binding, so it was actually about 30 issues in a genuine plastic bag. (Rare tesco's 1999 edition).

I politely declined on the grounds that I don't buy magazines, and couldn't sell them.

"Go on, they are very good"

"No thank you"

"They are very sought after"

"well if you are such an expert, go and open a f*^*^&g bookshop" (OK so I made that one up - but i did think it)

"You have to take a risk to make money in business, be adventurous"

I pointed out through gritted teeth that buying a pile of rubbish i couldn't sell was not a risk, it was just stupidity, and that for adventure I prefered mountain climbing to buying bags of junk.

"Tell, you what, I'll do you a deal - you take them, and when they sell, give me half the money"

"Nope, I don't sell on commission"

"It's not on commission, i'm giving them to you - just give me half the money when they sell".

I gazed whistfully at the illustrations of AK 47's and daydreamed about the effect of sprinkling napalm over salespeople for a while, then told him to go on his way with his magazines.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Con

"Do you buy back books"

"Well, if we have sold a book, yes, we will generally buy it back"

"Oh good, how much for these ?"

"erm, I don't recognise having sold any of those."

"No, they didn't come from here."

"Ah, well, I won't be buying them back then"

"But you just said you would buy them......"

It went on for a while, but I really can't be bothered to type any more..

Paperback Gems

Having asked me what sort of books i liked to buy (i explained i prefered to sell them), the nice lady pulled out a handfull of paperbacks from her shopping trolley.

"I'm sorry, I never buy paperbacks" i explained.

Undeterred, she pulled out a further 5 bags of paperbacks, emptying each on the counter, and plucking the odd tome from the dirty pile with a "What about this one". 7 times more I said "I'm sorry, I never buy paperbacks".

She went off telling me that she would find some more for me to buy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Valuations

Lady walks into the shop clutching a catalogue from the V & A from the 1920's.

"I brought this in a charity shop. I approached the V & A and they want to buy it from me, and have asked me how much I wish to sell it for - what should i ask them for ?"

Of course, this is a woman who has never purchased anything from me in her life !

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My knowledge Knows No Bounds

"A friend of mine has reserved a CD in a CD shop, but i don't know which one. Can you tell me where it is please?"

Amazingly, I could.

Omniscience is much underated.

Library Service

I have just caught a chap in the back room who had piled up and moved lots of books so that he could create a writing suface on top of a 3 shelf bookcase. He then started to make copious notes on Roman and Norman coins from one of my nicer Numismatics books.

When i asked if i could help him, he replied "Oh no, I've found what I need. I don't want to buy it, I just want to make notes on some coins I have just got."

Should I grab him by his lapels and fling him bodily into the street before jumping up and down on him shouting "curses on your coins you cheapskate, book borrowing, odourous person" or should i just let him carry on using me as a library reference room ?

I am willing to concede that there may be a middle path !

Lots of Knowledge

I have been offered 4 sets of encyclopaedias today.

There must be some very clever people out there, with all of this knowledge floating around.


I have just been asked if I would offer a cash discount on a book costing £2.

Like an inverted clown, I laughed inside & looked sad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Experiments in Altruism

I have been doing a little experiment recently.

People often come in to offload their dross (after all, in times of global meltdown, tatty paperbacks are a surefire investment!). But for some reason, nearly every potential seller claims that the money isn't the issue, and that they merely wanting to downsize / change direction / pass on to a good home unwanted books etc. etc.

I decided to test this. As I am currently raising money for a cancer charity via a sponsored walk (feel free to send your donations), I have been soliciting sponsorship from many of the people who dare to enter the shop.

Just about every person who buys a book, has also chosen to sponsor me. (I say chosen carefully here - I may have been slightly persuasive !!).

But - I have yet to get a single sponsorship from those trying to sell.

I can understand this from people who are obviously trying to raise cash (and actually - if it is apparent that money raising is the reason for the visit - i don't even ask). But even those who claim they are not after money have turned me down when I offer to put money into the charity for their books.

I figured that if their claims are true, that money isn't the issue, and that they merely want them to go to a good home, then some might be happy if i offered to buy the books, and put some or all of the cash into the charity.

So far, they have ALL refused and either want the cash themselves or take their books away.

Now I know that they are their books, and they have a perfect right to pocket any cash for them - but it does rather give the lie to their protestations !

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Economies of Business

Sweet little couple (See I CAN be nice about customers) came into the shop and showed me a very tired copy of Robinson Crusoe from the 1880's.

"We'd like to sell you this book"

I explained that I couldn't possibly buy the book, as it was (to use a technical term) shagged.

"But it must be worth something"

"Not really madam, the book in good condition would sell for around £30 in the shop, but this one has half the pages detatched, and no spine. It would cost me £40 to repair."

"Well £30 would be ok, if thats all you can give for it."

"No madam, £30 is what i would sell it for myself, if it was all repaired and in good condition"

"This one isn't in good condition is it"

"No madam - that's why it would cost £40 to repair"

"Well £40 would be ok for it i suppose - you wouldn't go any higher"

"No madam, £40 is the repair cost - £30 the final value after repairs - I can't offer you anything"

"We could take the £30 for it"

"No if I paid you £30, then I would make a loss of £40 if i sold it after repairs"

"Well its no good making a loss is it ?"

A long pause followed. I could see the cogs gently clicking through the positions......Yes, she was working through the maths........ Nearly there - any moment now she will realise that the book is actually not an economically viable option for a bookseller.....

"I suppose we could take £20 for it if that is your best offer".


Woman marches into my inner sanctum with volumes 1, 3 and 5 of a 1950's children's encylopedia - all ripped and torn, tatty and a little sad.

"How much for these ?"

"I'm sorry ma'am, its not something I can buy"

"Why not ? You are the bookseller - it's your job to buy books"

"No ma'am - the clue is in the title, it is my job to sell books"

"But i want you to buy these. Surely you have to buy books from people"

"Only if i think i can sell them"

"So what will you offer me for them ?"

I gave up at this point, melted into a pool of inconsolable sobbing an leaked all over the carpet - carefully avoiding leaking onto her immensely valuable books.

Intuitive Pricing

"I have an old book, how much is it worth"

"Do you have it with you sir ?"

"No - do you think I should have brought it along ?"

"Thats depends what you want to do with it. Who was the author?"

"I don't know, I can't remember the title either. But its very old. How much are old books worth?"

"Well how old is old ?"

"Oh very old, at least 5 years old. Its even in hardback."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Memo to self.

Must remember

Never, never NEVER never NEVER never ever ask a customer if they are well.

Just don't do it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dirty Phone Call

Message on the answer phone this morning.

"Hello, I have a paperback copy of xxxxx by xxxx the isbn number is xxxxxxx, Can you phone me back and tell me what it is worth please"

Now should I phone ?

Monday, August 18, 2008

The customer is NOT always right

Chap walks in. I knew he would be trouble as he struggled to bring in his bycycle, loaded down for a round the world trip, wooden boxes as paniers, big rucsack on the handlebars and a trailer attached. This took up most of the shop floor.

I suspected that this was full of books he wished to sell, but no, he wanted a book from the window.

"I've cycled back for the book on Protestant Island" I'm half Irish and want to read about the Protestants there".

"No sir, it is called "Protestand Island" It is by Arthur Bryant and
is about the United Kingdom - not Ireland."

"That's right - the Protestants in Ireland. How much is it?"

"£12 sir, but it isn't about Ireland - its about the British"

"I can't find Ireland in the Index"

"No sir - it won't be, it isn't about Ireland"

"Land of the free - that chapter will be about Ireland"

"Possibly sir, but it is more likely to be about America"

"Where is information about Irish Protestants"

"That will be in a different book sir, the one on Ireland perhaps"

"Well i'll take it anyway - not a good index, but i'm sure i'll find out about the Irish in it."

"Perhaps I can tempt you with my copy of "Florida, the Sunshine
State" which is all about the Jewish Irish in Lapland to go with your
collection of wildly misnamed books on bizarre subjects sir"

"I've cycled from France by bycycle as it cost too much to take a car to Normandy - it's £300 on the ferry, and only a £100 for my bycycle so i decided to take my bycyle and not a car. I don't have a car anyway".

I smiled sweetly, and bit my lip until it bled profusely.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Big doses of Bigottry

It is tricky being a good socialist book dealer at times.

Apart from the inherent dilemma of being a capitalist company owner accumulating possessions

And (obviously) exploiting my downtrodden staff (or so they tell me)

And making my living from products whose main value is their scarcity,

There is the problem of being surrounded by Nazi Bigots.

This afternoon I received a fine racist rant from a rather smelly older gentleman.

His main argument was that the Labour party is trying to destroy the country by filling it with immigrants as foriegners hate the royal family and will bring in communism and that the blacks are filling up our country and will kill us all and look at Rhodesia and everyone is afraid to have an opinion it's political correctness gone mad i tell you we should be more like America and allow racism as the foriegners should all go back to their own country and they would kill us if they had the chance so bring back cruficixion and deportation and then flogging for a second offence and if i want to be racist why shouldn't I as they shouldnt be here in my country anyhow and i dont go live in theirs so why are they in mine and this country should be white and catholics deported too as they are all communists and don't you agree ?

So what do I say? Is the customer always right ?

What i would like to say is "Sir, not only are you a racist smelly old bigot, but you argument is facile, incorrect and just plain wrong. Please desist your ranting and depart from my premises immediately."

What I actually said was "Well I believe tolerance is important, and freedom shouldn't extent to the extent of hurting others"

Which unfortunately just set him off again.

Is one really able to confront quite objectional attitudes and opinions in ones own shop ? Yes, I can throw anyone out, but one (ex) customer muttering darkly about the shop will lose me more sales than Oxfam.

Hmmm. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Feeble Excuses For Not Handing Over Cash

There are many excuses that one hears from people trying hard not to become customers.

The most common - usually after about an hours browsing, is "I must come back when I have my glasses". So what have they been doing for the hour if they haven't been looking at books ? Sleeping among the sonnets in the dark corners of the poetry room ? Pondering in the deeper recesses of political biography ? Meditating among the militaria ?

Another excuse - again normally after at least 30 minutes, is "I must come back when i have more time". I generally resist muttering "It takes 45 seconds to purchase a book, now get back in here and select one now" while smiling serenely and thanking them for their attention.

This morning I have had two more prime excuses.

Firstly, a woman came looking for "Seven Years in Tibet" when i proffer her a fine first edition copy, she looks over it for a while, before announcing that she wanted one set about 20 years earlier. "Yes, I think i need the book before this one" she announced. Give that this is the biography of one man (his only book) and the story of pretty much his whole life, it would be hard to find the "one before this one". And it was only £4 (humpf humpf).

The next lady came in and told me that she was desperate to read some of the crime novels of Antonia Fraser. The library didn't have any, and there were none on the reserve list, there were none in print, and she loved them SOOO much.

You know what's coming. Pretty certain of a sale, I offered her a choce of four of (yes four) first editions, perfect condition in dust wrappers, at a massive £5 each. "Oh No" she exclaimed... "I've never paid as much as £5 for a book before".

Bah humbug.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Get the social services

Chap comes in and starts looking at the children's books.

He picks up a copy of "Heidi Grows up" (The sequel to Heidi obviously !) It has a young girl sitting among the flowers on the cover.

"Heidi Grows Up" he drooled.... "Now there's a fantasy come true, he he he, he he he, he he".

I just looked at him with my best Paddington glare and made a mental note to keep him away from any young people I know.

Keen Customer

Chap was so keen to get into the shop today that he collared me in the market square, and practically frog marched me to the shop. I pointed out that I wouldn't be open for a while, as I had to tidy up some bits, put out the rubbish, and hoover the shop.

At this point, he took the hoover from me, and announced that he would hoover for me, as that way he could speed up the opening and "quiet time" reading his books.

And so he did!

He made a pretty good job of it too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The joys of my Arch Nemesis

This week has mainly been full of people trying to offload their rubbish on me for cash, before generously donating anything totally unsalable to the local charity shops.

Some highlights have included the young chap who brought a book in that he had purchased in a local Oxfam shop, with a request for a free valuation from me. (without looking at the book, i told him that it was worth about half what he paid for it).

Later that day came another chap, who tried to sell me some garbage, and while i was declining his offer of junk that had been turned down elsewhere, he noticed that I put a couple of paperback into the paper recycling (take note Oxfam, paper doesn't HAVE to be dumped in black sacks for the bin men). He instantly switched tack, and decided that he would like these for nothing, as i was throwing them out anyway.

Finally, came the woman who tried to sell me an RAC Road Map of Britain from the year 2000. When i suggested that it was out of date, and not something that I could sell, she commented that it was no wonder that Oxfam were putting me out of business, and that THEY would appreciate her kind donation.

Thank you all, my kind local supporters.


A woman dashes into the shop and practically throws herself at the counter.

I instantly suspect a new, novel approach to selling me books, but am caught off guard by her request.

Apparently, she had a 30 minute tanning session in the beauticians up the road, and would I mind awfully keeping an eye for traffic wardens, and fetching her if any appear, as she just HAD to leave her car on the double yellow lines outside my shop.

I suggested that car park in the next street would be a better solution, but apparently that was too far to walk. I pointed out (muttering under my breath that the tanning salon was too far for me to walk) that I had a shop to run, and couldn't guarantee seeing a warden, but i would do my best.

31 minutes later the storm of her entrance returned, and i suspected that i had missed a warden, and was about to receive the brunt of her freshly tanned and scrubbed wrath, but she was just whirling in to say thank you for looking after her car.

I mentioned that it was nothing (which was true, as i hadn't done anything - don't think i had even glanced outside) and sat warmly glowing in the reflected glory of her tan and praise.

She didn't buy a book though.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bad hair day

Woman walks into the shop, and approaches me with a "hello, i know you are busy"

I instantly suspected a sale pitch, but no. She then asked.

"Do you have a book for thickening up hair ?"

I looked suitably blank (not having a clue what she was talking about)

"My sister has a bald patch, and I want a book to thicken her hair... I'd pay anything for it"

"Ah, do you mean a book about hairdressing madam ?"

"Not really, I don't want to do hairdressing, i just want to know how to thicken my sisters hair"

I suggested that it might be easier to just ask a hairdresser for advice, which she thought was a jolly good idea, and set off to obtain immediately.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mein Can't

Chap comes in, and doesn't even bother coming fully into the shop, he just stands in the doorway and summons me (guaranteed to make me a happy bunny and keen on their books). He then announced that he has "A rare and valuable copy of Mein Kampf from 1939, worth £100" - what will I give for it.

I said that I wouldn't sell it for £100 and it was very difficult to sell. I would only pay a maximum of £20 for it. (It's not particularly rare, and you can get reasonable copies for £15 - £20 or a very good one for £40)

He shook his head wisely and told me it was worth far more that this. He has already shown it to a bookshop in Southampton, and they are very interested in acquiring it. Now my mates Pete and Brian in Southampton would almost certainly not be keen on acquiring a copy of Mein Kampf - and if they were, they would just buy it ! I told him he should just sell it to them, but apparently they aren't offering enough either.

He asked me how he should sell it, and I said that he could try ebay. Yet more wise smiles - he's already tried that and it was removed for being offensive material. I gave my own wise smile and pointed out, that yes, it was difficult to sell ! I don't think he got it, but I'm sure he and his copy of very expensive Mein Kampf will be happy together !

Monday, April 07, 2008


"Are we allowed to choose our own book ?"

Ah if only you weren't.

We would do so much better if I could choose which books people had to have. All my old and unsaleable ones would fly off the shelves.

"Yes madam, I am certain that Sweet and Maxwell's "Medical Negligence in County Court Judgements" is a thrilling book, and will certainly keep you amused for hours"

Fishy Fiction

Elederly chap comes in.

Looking for a book. Can't remember the title or the author.

But the authors man is a fish - comes in tins - quite tasty.

All of the customers (yes I had several) joined in to try to help. He was offered Sardines, but apparently it begins with a 'C' and is the cheapest fish you get in a tin.

Suggested Cod, Colley, Carp, Californian Sardine, Kippers (yes I know) and various others, but no joy. He went off promising to return with the name.

He hasn't.

I am frustrated now. Suggestions please.

New World Order

Yee Haa.
They do exist.

I have just been on the end of an genuine rant by a genuine conspiracy theorist who genuinely believes that the world is secretly run by the New World Order. I didn't think they really existed (The conspirasists that is - obviously the New World Order exist).

He also believes that Jews run the NWO, that members of the House of Lords are practicing their marksmanship in Westminster to defend themselves against the revolution. etc etc etc.

Here was here about 20 mins and paused for breath once.

I just smiled sweetly and glazed over!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Changing Rooms

It is snowing outside (Yippee - cold snowy weather - must be a UK summer on the way).

Chap has just walked in, undone his rucsac, spent 5 minutes emptying it, spreading all of his belongings around the floor, and making little piles of stuff. He then put on his waterproof trousers and coat, spent another 5 mins repacking it all neatly, and walked out again.

Not a word of hello, good bye, or may i use your shop as a temporary changing room / repacking facility.


Remind me again about how much I love my customers.
(and while we are at it, define a customer).


Chap walks in with the customary and highly cheerful "Good Morning, how are you today" that you just KNOW means he is going to try to sell you something.

He comes up to the counter, and pulls out a month old and tatty copy of "Antiques Explorer" magazine. A free mag, that we distribute from the shop. "Would you be interested in buying this ?" he asks.

"But we give it out free to the public"

"Yes but this is a back issue - surely there are some collectors"

after pointing out that a month old is not quite into the antiquarian and collectible scale of things, i dig out another 10 copies that we failed to hand out for free, and ask him if he would like to take these to add to his collection - that way he can make a real killing if he finds anyone stupid enough to buy them!

Sadly he doesn't want my copies. I guess i will have to recycle them as usual!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Even Newer Levels of Cheek

Elderly woman walks into the shop, and asks if we have a copy of Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet".

A reasonable request, and we provide one instantly (From our little stash of Prophets beneath the desk) priced at a very respectable £3. (Oh yes, bargain prices).

She is very excited and tells me that she wants to send one of the poems to her grandson.

She then sits down, pulls out a pad of paper, and copies the poem out.

Saying to me "I do hope you don't mind me copying it rather than buying it."

I tell her that I am beyond the point of caring, and just proceed to bang my head against the keyboard for a while.

Monday, March 03, 2008

New levels of cheek

Man phones the shop, and announces that he is on a mobile and has no credit, can I call him back.

When I do, he tells me how he has found a book, and wants to know what it is worth. Doesn't even want to sell it. Just wants a free valuation over the phone.

I think I may have to join the Inquisition of the Cathars - "Kill them all, God will know his own"

Friday, February 29, 2008

Valuation Service

Gentleman walks in and we have the following conversation (which I promise is not edited or made up):

Muppet: "I have some bird books - how much are they worth ?"

Mitchell: "I don't know - do you have them with you"

Muppet: "No"

Mitchell: "Well who is the Author ?"

Muppet: "I Don't know"

Mitchell: "Well do you know the title ?"

Muppet: "I Don't know"

Mitchell: "Well how old are the books ?"

Muppet: "I Don't know - they are a bit tatty - are they worth rebinding ?"

Mitchell: "That would depend on how much they are worth"

Muppet: "Oh - there are six of them. How much would they be worth then ?"

At least he didn't tell me they were blue !!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Top Titles

You couldn't make this up.

I have just listed on the internet two fine books, written in the 1930's.

The author is H. A. Manhood.

The first book is called "Night seed" the second is "Gay Agony"

Fnarr fnarr. Definately a Viz moment.

French stuff

Chap comes in and asks if I deal with manuscripts. I tell him that I do sometimes, and he pulls out an old French vellum handwritten manuscript which he tells me is from 1647 and asks me what I can tell him about it.

His manner made me a little suspicious - so I asked him if he was wanting to sell it. He replied "Oh no- I shall sell it on ebay, I just want you to give me information about it"

I told him that it was a french handwritten manuscript and that was all I knew about it. He pointed out that he already knew that, and that I hadn't even touched it.

"Quite" I replied - feeling very smug and ascerbic (Is this why I have no customers ?).

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

I always hate people tryin to con me (almost as much as i hate those who manage it).

Chap arrives in the shop and spends some time looking through the History section. Eventually he asks me if I can get hold of a book for him. It is his brothers birthday, and he has asked for a specific Victorian history book. After I have got the name and author, he says that it MUST be the second edition from 1861.

I managed to find a copy located in the USA, and quote him a price of £16 (including £8 shipping and dealer price of £6 - so a grand total of £2 profit for me). He says he will think about it and goes off.

Ten minutes later, he reappears, and pulls a copy of the same book out of an Oxfam bag (second edition of course!) and tells me that miraculously, he has just found the book in Oxfam. He has now suddenly decided that he doesn't wish to give it to his brother (even though he had requested it) and what would I offer him for it.

He was most upset when I said I would give him £1. He pointed out that I had just asked him £16, and i explained again the breakdown of this. I also told him that it was the sort of book and condition that I would sell for £3 - hence the £1 offer. His reply was that he had just paid Oxfam £5 - wouldn't I at least give him that (Oh No !!) and what was he meant to do with it now.

Resisting the urge to tell him to shove it where the sun don't shine, I suggested that he try to sell it to Oxfam, as they had such a high opinion of it. He went of a little disgruntled.

And I was glad.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Postal problems

Chap phones up to complain about a book order I have sent him.

I look up the order, and assure him that the books have gone out to him with Royal Mail.

"Oh I know that, I found them in my garden" it seems that the postie left them half in his letter box, and someone pulled them out,and threw them into the bushes.

He wanted to know what I was going to do about it.

I paused bleakly for a moment (wondering what all this had to do with me) and asked him how much damage there was to the books.

"Nothing at all, you wrapped them very well, but I wondered what compensation I would receive from you for them being thrown into the hedge"

I shall stop here !