I’ve been a bookseller for about a year now at two different bookstores (a chain and an indie) and there’s so many things I’ve heard that I wish I didn’t. As a bookseller, you learn a lot about your customers based on what they read and the endless conversations you have with them about these books. After a year of bookselling, there’s just some things that I want to advise you NOT to say to your bookseller.
“Are you sure you don’t have it? It says in stock right there.”
This was something that happened to me SO often at Barnes & Noble. The customer service desks faced out towards customers and this caused a lot of issues with customers thinking they know what they’re reading. Yes, while the computer says it’s in stock, that’s only at a warehouse. If I tell you we don’t have the book and we can order it, just order it and believe me.
“Don’t you have a cheaper version like a paperback of this new release in store?”
This was ALWAYS for new releases. Please understand that most of the time, publishers don’t release paperbacks until about a year after the release. This time frame mostly depends on how well the book is doing. If a book is flying off the shelves in a hardcover (For example: Where the Crawdads Sing), it’s less likely they’re going to release a paperback anytime soon. This is simply because they’re making more money off these hardcovers. So, if you don’t want to pay for the hard cover, you’re going to have to wait a year or so.
Please stop leaving your iced plastic cups on the bookshelves. You’re ruining our shelves and books.
Most bookstores with Starbucks or coffee shops attached know what I’m talking about. There were so many different occasions I’d find an iced drink leaking all over the shelf because someone decided just to leave it there. There’s trash cans, people. Also, maybe get a more environmentally friendly cup that you won’t leave everywhere? It’s just annoying when there’s rings on our bookshelves because of other people not having manners. I get it, sometimes you forget your drink and it’s an accident, but DAMN. This happened to often for everyone to be that forgetful.
You don’t have to whisper.
As an indie bookseller in a small store, it’s just awkward if you whisper. It’s not a library so you don’t need to be quiet. I can promise you I’m probably not even listening because I’m too busy reading my own book. It’s okay to talk to your friends or family while you’re book shopping!
While I do have an expansive knowledge on books, I don’t know that book that was mentioned on the news this morning or a magazine.
I wish that I knew these books that are promoted on TV or in the paper. But, unfortunately, I don’t have time to watch the morning news. I’m usually at work when that’s airing. I’m not mad if you ask about these books but it sucks when I’m not able to find them online when you’re looking for them. I really do want you to find this book! Try to take a photo of the news article or the TV screen whenever they’re promoting the book. I’ll definitely be able to find it then.
Print books aren’t dying and neither are the bookstores.
I hate it when people tell me this and remind me of their trusty e-reader they love so much. Don’t get me wrong, e-books are great. But, if you’re standing in the indie bookstore I work at, why would you tell me this? I’m aware of the popularization of e-books but it’s important to know print isn’t dying. If it was, we wouldn’t be a bookstore full of physical books. It is important to know that bookstores aren’t as busy as they were before but there’s new indie bookstores opening everywhere in America. In fact, there’s more newer indie bookstores than ever. That’s why it’s so important for you to shop at your indie bookstore. If you want to be able to linger around a bookstore for hours sipping on your hot coffee, you gotta at least get some books there!
“The last time I read a book was for high school reading. It sucked.”
I’m glad you’re bragging about being illiterate, Brad. Why are you even here?
“Do I HAVE to start with book one in the series?”
I can’t believe people really start in the middle of some series. Yes, I’m pretty sure if you want to understand most series: you should start with book one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some series that you don’t really need to start at the beginning. But, if you ask me if you need to read the first book in Throne of Glass or A Darker Shade of Magic, I’m going to tell you: Yes. Definitely.
Please stop taking photos of our books to buy them somewhere else.
Man, I really hated seeing this because I knew most people do this to pick up the book somewhere else (Amazon, probably). Google exists for a reason! Don’t waste my time asking me to help you find a book if you’re not going to buy it here. I’m not an Amazon bookseller. I’m an indie bookseller! I could be helping someone who genuinely wants to read and buy the book they need help finding.
“The book you recommended me sucked.”
This hasn’t happened to me personally but it did happen to one of my old co-workers. I love giving recommendations to people but listen, I’m going to be bias. I’m going to recommend my favorite books to you if you ask, “What’s the best book you’ve ever read?” That question doesn’t let me help you find YOUR favorite book, it just lets me show you mine. If you’re going to ask for recommendations, please give us more on what you’re into. What was your last favorite book? What’s your favorite TV show? It helps us way more!
“Why would I read the book when I can watch the movie?”
I don’t know, why are you in a bookstore when you can just go buy some DVDs or something? Also, the book is ALWAYS better.
Don’t flip over or move a book that you don’t agree with or that you just don’t like.
I used to do this when I was a KID simply because it’s childish. It’s annoying when you turn over Donald Trump’s books or move them to an entirely different section. This causes customers to be mad at US for not being able to find the book you moved. I don’t like his books either but I’m also aware of the extra work that causes for booksellers. Not to mention, we don’t get paid enough to walk around the store looking for books customers moved. Also, even though I get bored, I don’t want to turn over a bunch of political books because a customer decided to be petty. It’s annoying so please don’t.
Don’t argue with booksellers if we say the book is in the back and we can’t get to it right now.
My first ever horrible experience at Barnes & Noble was with a dad who INSISTED on getting this book for his daughter. It was some obscure paperback that even I hadn’t heard of. This was during the holidays so we were so busy and the back was FULL of boxes. I couldn’t just go rip through all the 50+ boxes for this random paperback. He went to several booksellers about this saying, “Isn’t the title on the box?” like no, it’s not. If it was, I could’ve gotten it for you. Anyways, the manager had to rip through all the books to find it because this person couldn’t wait for the receiver to unbox it. RIP. Most of the time, the book is in the back and we can get it for you but you just have to be patient!
“I’m just going to buy it on Amazon. It’s cheaper!”
Why would you ever tell a bookseller that? Let alone, an indie bookseller? It literally hurts hearing people come in here and just say they’re going to buy it online. We can order any book you want, we offer discounts for teachers, our bestsellers are 25% off and we work much harder to help you than Amazon will. I know that books are cheaper on Amazon but don’t you want a bookstore near you to rely on? Don’t you want to have weekends where you linger around a little indie bookstore and end up finding your favorite book? I get it, some people will STILL shop on Amazon. But, there’s no reason to tell your bookseller that. I don’t think you’d walk into Wendy’s and say, “I’m just going to get food at McDonalds. BYEEE” like ??? I don’t get it. Have some manners, please.
To find an indie bookstore near you, check out this link.
I love being a bookseller but there’s just some things that make me giggle or that I had to get off my chest. If you’re a bookseller, HOLD ON TIGHT. You can do this! If you have more to add to list, comment! I’d love to see how others feel as well lol.
To hear my thoughts elsewhere, follow me on social media: Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter
4 thoughts on “Things Not to Say/Do to Your Bookseller”
One time a customer asked me if books about the Holocaust were “depressing.” I didn’t know how to answer!
LikeLiked by 1 person
LOL omg this has happened to me too! 😭 I’m like well, yeah…. do you KNOW what happened? 🤣
Love this article. I am not a book seller, but I HATE it when people leave half empty iced coffees on shelves. That happens a lot.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It’s so aggravating! I hated cleaning them up. They would always ruin books and they were always sticky 😒