Encounters in Publishing

Encounters in a Bookstore #600: Farewell Summer by Liz Mathews

At the bookstore where I work, the summer of 2012 has been the summer of farewells. Though it’s generally a happy thing when people move on from that place, these times around the goodbyes were more…apparent.

First there was Tim, who had not been with us long but decided that his lit agency internship-turned-job was going to be plenty to get by, part-time job be damned. Happily, Tim has no fear of meeting up with those of us still employed in selling of books. His new gig really isn’t so different, all things considered.


Encounters in a Bookstore #555: Reporting Myself

At the bookstore where I work, things are typically straightforward. But sometimes they are not.

On a recent Sunday morning I was having a chat with my coworker and friend, Katie. She is also my supervisor, in that she is responsible for things like fully processing returns and exchanges, and the rest of us cashiers have to ask her when we want to use the restroom or get a drink of water.


Encounters in a Bookstore #347: Job Requirements

In the past I’ve mentioned that the bookstore where I work is keen on acquiring email addresses. On a recent evening when business was slow, one of the managers took it upon himself to try and enforce company policy.

“You two both did the same things in your last transactions, which need correction.”

We two nodded. “First, you didn’t mention the discount when you asked if they were members. Then, neither of you asked for email addresses.”

The other scolded party, Steven, and I nodded again. Two customers were coming our way.


Encounters in a Bookstore #402: So Many Shades

You might have heard of a little book called Fifty Shades of Grey. And, if you’ve heard of that, you’ve maybe also heard of Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. If you are a woman in the United States of America, you might have read the trilogy already. If you are a man, you might also be considering reading these books, if only to understand what’s got the ladies so hot and bothered at the moment. Or maybe to make your lady a little bothered, too.

At the bookstore where I work, Fifty Shades of Grey, or the other two in the trilogy, plays a role in every other transaction that passes through any given cash register. At the information desk, if someone has failed to see the trilogy on one of numerous displays throughout the store, its whereabouts is one of the most popular customer questions. By the time you read this article, we will have sold at least 1500 copies of Grey.


Encounters in a Bookstore #537: The Trifecta

On a rainy and surprisingly busy Sunday, one of the managers at the bookstore where I work completed a trifecta that no one ever really sets out to accomplish.

Around 12:30 a little girl and her father bought a few items, and as he was putting his wallet away, she started shrieking and moving in little jerky circles. All things considered, he seems to have responded much too calmly. Turns out she wet herself, and the floor. He rifled through the stroller a little bit, she cried a little, and he said, “Looks like we don’t have a change of clothes.”

Then he turned to me, said, “A potty-training setback,” shrugged, and they both left. The puddle of urine, of course, remained.


Encounters in a Bookstore #360: NOT BETWEEN THOSE PAGES

At the bookstore where I work, sometimes you can tell trouble just from seeing its face across the store.

This time, upon approaching my register, trouble was a fidgety man with shifty eyes. There was no line behind him; it was 10:15 on a Monday night. He had an incoherent way of suggesting he had a book on hold, but eventually revealed his reason to be at the cash register. Once I located his order on the shelf, I walked back to my register and simultaneously removed the hold slip, hoping the book would reveal an explanation for his awkwardness, or perhaps a reason to think him less so. The Elegant Universe, perhaps. Or A Brief History of Time. Even How to Win Friends and Influence People would have been acceptable.