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.