Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops

Reading & Writing

This is the title of a book culled from a website by Jen Campbell, and is the kind of slim volume you find beside the till – but it’s also a testament to the patience and resourcefulness of put-upon booksellers when faced with the utter idiocy of customers whose reading is limited to Jeremy Clarkson and EL James (I didn’t realise she was English – sorry, world).

Here are a couple of things booksellers have been asked.

‘Have you any books by Jane Eyre?’

‘Do you have this children’s book I’ve heard about? It’s called ‘Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe’.’

‘Are all of your books for sale, or just some of them?’

‘Do you sell Christmas trees? You have a Christmas display in the window.’

But it’s the longer exchanges that put booksellers to the test, as customers ask them to try and recall the book with the green cover they had as a child, or the one with the murder in it, or berate the bookshop for not stocking the sequel to ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ because after all it was a big success so she must have written one.

And it’s amazing how many times the ‘Twilight’ film franchise crops up here, as people ask to read the book R-Patz liked. I guess they’ll be getting the stupid ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ questions next.

Price £7.99, and a bloody good laugh.

6 comments on “Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops”

  1. Colin Pierce says:

    When I was a bookseller I was asked if we had a copy of “Ken Livingstone Seagull”. I politely suggested that he meant “Jonathan Livingstone Seagull” but he was having none of it. I even thought for a moment that someone had written a spoof, so looked it up. But no. Customer left in a huff.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    While I was in high school in the 50’s, I worked weekends and holidays as an Asst. Manager in a Doubleday bookshop on Long Island. I got the troubled customers referred to me. We got a lot of newly-weathy people with airs and sometimes they wanted the strangest things.
    One man asked a salesperson for a Thes-a-ris for his daughter to take with her to college. He got angry when the salesperson went blank and asked for help.
    Another time, a woman quietly asked for a historical novel (soft-pornish). She wanted a new book called “Mucatel” and was taken to the wine section. She also got mad because she thought the salesperson was pulling her leg. What she actually wanted was a book called “Messalina” – Claudius’s 3rd wife and a bit of a tramp with a whip, at least on the cover.
    The best though (lightly x rated) was the blonde woman who every few months had us select hundreds of dollars (50’s dollars)worth of fiction and non-fiction books, gift wrap them, and deliver them to her when she drove up in her red Caddy. One summer morning she was off for a long sail on her yacht and I carried a loaded box of “gift’ books we’d selected out to her top-down car. (My first time doing so.) As directed I put them on the front seat of her car. She was wearing a thin nightgown and a lacy wrap. My mourh must have dropped because she laughed, said “enjoy” and roared off. The Manager told me later: “I should have warned you, Dan, but she spends thousands of dollars with us a year. And she reads the books.” (If she decided she didn’t like a book, she’d returned it unread.)
    I was 18, if you’re wondering.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Why is the desired book in the anecdote always green? You get it in libraries, too. “Remember that book I read last week, the green one?” There’s an occasional feature on Saturday morning radio which features children’s librarians who will track down that favourite book you read in grade four and about which you can only remember a very few details, none of which is either the author or the title.

  4. Steve says:

    “A Wrinkle In Time”.

    Of course that was the 8th grade.
    And I don’t remember the color of the cover.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    Steve, that book is now out in a new paperback edition with silver swirls on the cover to celebrate its 5oth anniversary. It has been a novel choice for study in grades 6 or 7 for a long time.

  6. glasgow1975 says:

    Lionel Ritchie and the Wardrobe . . .that has to go on facebook 😉

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