Tag Archives: bookshop

Bookwormy invitation

When sorting used books I find bookmarks. Here’s one I quite like:

 

 

Bookworm

Look, it’s a friendly bookworm. On the flip side is an invitation to join the Red Deer College library for the low, low price of $5.00 a year. Now it costs $40/year for a community membership!

Community Members

 

How a Red Deer College Library bookmark ends up in a bookshop in Toronto is, I’m sure, a tale to be told. But I don’t know the story. Sad.

 

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Humbug!

I work in retail, in a bookshop. This means that Christmas music plays continually in the store from the first week of December. Mercifully I’m only there 4 days a week; however, I sit under one of the sound system speakers. I notice when songs are played again and again. I notice that there are days when it seems like the radio station plays only their selections for the Worst Versions of Christmas Songs Ever. And by today, December 21, I am Not Interested in hearing any of their Christmas music any longer. At first we joked and made predictions for the song of the day. (Example: “Holly Jolly Christmas,” 4 times by 5 o’clock.) Now we just make snide remarks about the versions and singing ability of some soloists.

I have to tell you that my least favourite of all the Christmas songs ever is “Santa Baby” first recorded in 1953 or so. Ick. I quite like the carol “O Holy Night” but am afraid that there are some particularly terrible versions of this floating around out there, that feature aging sopranos missing their notes.

What about you? What Christmas song do you hate? What song do you like, but hate to hear massacred in the various recorded versions?

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Digital Backlists

 

The Guardian, fount of all sorts of interesting articles about books and reading, published a piece about the digital backlist by Anna Baddeley last week. Apparently publishers, realizing they have lots of possible e-books in the form of their backlist, have been digitizing these lists. The problem, one that I’ve lamented here, is that all marketing attention is focussed on new books, on the latest and so-called greatest. Baddeley describes this attention in the article:

An author’s latest is always “their best yet”, while every debut is heralded with messianic zeal. The side effect of this is that any book more than a year old seems dusty and irrelevant.

This blog celebrates backlist books, those that may seem dusty and irrelevant. (Of course sometimes I talk about new books because who can resist talking about J.K. Rowling!) Apparently these books are online, but can be difficult to find. Baddeley suggests that what we need is a new kind of online store for these books.

Amazon is great when you know what you’re looking for but hopeless for browsing. This is a problem for backlist titles, where readers might be in need of a chaperone. There is no category on the Kindle store for “interwar travel writing” or “1940s noir” or even “classic erotic fiction”. A gap in the market for a virtual “secondhand” bookshop?

As a person who works in a bricks-and-mortar shop, I can attest to the need people feel for chaperone’s when looking for books. I think what is actually needed is confidence and patience when looking for books. Many people have neither of these qualities. They are sure that there is some expert (usually they mistake bookshop staff for experts of this kind) who can instantly tell them which book will solve all their research/information/entertainment needs.

What I want when I walk into a second-hand or other bookshop is books that are arranged in some way, space and light enough to read the titles, and time to browse. The books need not be minutely categorized, but reasonably put into general areas (fiction/mystery/science fiction are one possible place to start) and then arranged within the section, usually by author’s last name. There needs to be space and light enough to see the books. One particularly crowded and messy secondhand bookshop that I frequent has great prices, but I only buy books from certain shelves which I can easily access and browse. It is better for browsing if there aren’t loads of people around, and browsing takes time.

I can’t imagine what a browse-friendly online shop of any kind would look like, especially a bookshop. Online shopping by its very nature seems to require some knowledge of what it is you are looking for. I am not at all a fan of buying things online for the very reason that you cannot browse and have a good look at a book to see if it is what you want. People sometimes don’t special order books in our shop because they really just want to have a look at the book before they buy it. What features might a browse-friendly online bookshop have?

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Really? (A Lament on Inventory Results)

Inventory happened last week at the theological bookshop where I work. I did the inventory of the used books as well as the stock room. Today, as happens every year after inventory, was the day I tried to find the missing stock. I had some success — books were behind other books on the shelf, or were small and overlooked during the first round of inventory-taking. But, there were a lot of books still missing. Some of these books have been missing for a while — I’ve gone looking for them for customers and have not found them.

Let’s be frank here. “Missing” stock generally means stolen stock. Note that I work at a theological bookshop. This means stolen material includes items with titles like The Door to Heaven, or Justification. I ranted a few times at innocent bystanders today, including one of our regular customers, addressing the absent persons who absconded with these books. “REALLY???” I said, with some sarcasm. “Really? You stole a book called Justification? How do you justify that?” Or, “Really? A youth ministry book about setting an example for youth? Really? You stole that?”

Also missing from used books: several Bibles, a Book of Common Prayer, the Eucharist service, several books from the pastoral ministry section, several books from the spirituality section, a whole lot of New Testament commentaries with 1 & 2 Thessalonians particularly well represented, as well as a few interesting literature selections. The winner with the most books MIA was the Theology section. REALLY? C’mon people. Isn’t there a commandment about this?

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