Saturday, December 08, 2007


We interrupt this blog for a neurotic rant:

Oh my God, what was I thinking buying all these books?! We're never going to sell so many books. No one even reads anymore. Yesterday, as shipping & receiving was finishing up for the week, and the last titles were making their way to the floor, I tried to organize the overstock. Organization simply isn't possible. We have books crammed into every available nook and cranny of the store. I was carrying around stacks of books with nowhere to put them down. We had baskets loaded up all around the cash wrap. Who needs all these books? Certainly not the weatherman. Snow, snow and more snow. We're located on an outdoor walking mall. Stop snowing, already! We get 300 days of sunshine a year, but it's cold and gray two weekends before Christmas.

In a year where there are no great selling books, besides for Eat, Pray, Love, I panicked and bought multiple copies of dozens of different titles, hoping that lightning will strike at least a few of them. Well, as of yesterday, it wasn't striking. Am I insane? The only ones striking are the screen writers, throwing Stephen Colbert off the air and sinking his new book, I Am America and So Can You. Don't even tell me about the economy going down the tubes and how no one can afford their mortgages. Who has any spare cash to spend on books? What a great time to pile them up to the ceiling. Every time I walk into the store, the spines of unsold books loaded on top of the cases stare down at me like caged animals, scheming to devour their unjust captor -- me.

People try to console me. The crowds will come, the other employees say. You've done this for over 10 years, and it always works out, my wife tells me. I shrug them off. This is the year that it will all change. Perhaps my hubris as a buyer is my undoing. Who was I to buy 50 copies of Steve Martin's book? Why was I so confident that we'd sell Andrew Goldsworthy's Enclosure? Couldn't a monkey picking titles at random have done a better job with our selection? Let's face it, I couldn't type one of Shakespeare's plays in a zillion years and yet the mathematicians tell us a monkey could.

I know what will happen today when I go into the store: the only thing that the customers will want are the books that we don't have. Books that I forgot to buy, or decided not to buy, or already returned will be the titles that our customers want. It's already happened. Last weekend we had several people request Life is Meals by James Salter. We only had one. One copy, but everyone wants it. "He lives in Colorado," one of the booksellers harangued me. "I know, I know," I wailed, with my head in my hands. Of course, last Christmas, when Life is Meals was a beautiful new title, I stacked it up high. I was positive it was going to sell -- the author is practically local, I thought. Hardly anyone bought it, and no one seemed to care about the Colorado connection. Has it gotten to the point that I can't even figure out anymore what year a book will sell?

Well, it's back to the front lines in a few minutes. Perhaps I can load up a few customers with truckloads of books. I can tell them that it's the only human thing to do: I can't keep worrying about all these books. I need some sleep. Please, help me sleep.

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