Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Used bookstore savvy and how to demonstrate it

Utne Reader's blog The Sweet Pursuit alerted us to an essay in the Toronto-based literary magazine Descant that counsels people on how to behave in used bookstores. The author of the essay should know, because it's David Mason, a bookseller with 40 years of experience. There are 44-rules of which number one is:
“When you enter a used bookstore, do not ask if it is a library. A common preliminary to that question comes from the man who stands in the entrance, looks around, nods his head sagely and astutely observes, ‘Books, eh?’ ”
and number 19 is:
When the proprietor of a used bookstore asks if he can help, he is not beginning his campaign to sell you something you don’t want or need, like a new suit or the latest fad. He actually is interested in directing you to the appropriate book. If you answer, “Just browsing,” he will assume you are afraid of him. You should answer, “Only if I don’t find something on my own.” Remember, the bookseller wants you to buy a book, indeed he depends on it. But unlike many businesses he only wants to sell you a book that you want. The bookseller knows that he may never own another copy of that book and he wants it to go where it will be appreciated.
 (The essay is not posted online so you'll have to go to your local bookstore and buy issue 149;  Mason is apparently intending to issue it separately as an 18-page chapbook for $10.)

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