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".