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.