Encounters in a Bookstore #399: Reasoning with the Youth by Liz Mathews

You may recall that the bookstore where I work occasionally offers coupons. Along with those, and a bargain section, and the occasional clearance deals, we also have apparently somewhat confusing B2G1 tables. That’s Buy-Two-Get-One, for the uncertain.

When it comes to our B2G1 tables, the primary hang-up seems to be that you can’t just buy two of anything in the store (books, typically), and get the third thing free, so long as one of those things has a B2G1 sticker on it. Rather, the deal only applies to the books (normally) grouped together on whatever specific table has been designated B2G1. This is the news I often have to deliver to shoppers, resulting in their disappointed faces and crushed dreams of getting two mass market paperbacks and a brand-new not-on-sale hardcover for the price of two mass markets.

So the youngster that came through my register one afternoon was refreshing.

This fifteen-year-old (I’m guessing, I did not ask) had selected three of our company-published “classics”…which the crafty internet user might be able to find for completely free. That aside, he had a request.

“I want this free,” he said and handed me the most expensive book of the three. The books ranged in price from $4.99 to $7.99, for your reference.X Ever the buzzkill, I replied, “You’ll get the cheapest one free.”

I scanned the books and was proven right.

“That’s stupid,” the young man retorted.

“Well, it’s better than not free, isn’t it?” I raised my left eyebrow at him.

“True,” he settled.

Because he had to.

It was, perhaps, the most fulfilling encounter I’ve had at that place in recent memory.


Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.