The premise of `Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' is really what the title promises, a collection of snippets of conversations of, well, weird things customers say in bookshops. This collection is a mixture of what Jenn has either observed or conversations she has been part of working for `The Edinburgh Bookshop' and `Ripping Yarns Bookshop' as well as a selection of conversations other booksellers from bookshops worldwide have been privy to. It starts as it means to go on...
Customer: I read a book in the sixties. I don't remember the author, or the title. But it was green, and it made me laugh. Do you know which one I mean?
Through the collection it is not only the weird things that customers say that will have you laughing it is also the things that they actually do. People who want to leave their children in the shop while they browse other shops, let children destroy books and think nothing of it, ask for cups of tea when they aren't shopping there. They often come in clearly thinking a book seller has no real job, they can be rude, demanding and I haven't even started on some of the weird requests that they have when they do want to buy a book.
Customer: Do you have any books signed by Margaret Atwood?
Bookseller: We have many Margaret Atwood books, but I'm afraid we don't have any signed by Margaret Atwood, no.
Customer: I'm looking for a birthday present for my wife. I know she'd really love a signed copy. You couldn't fake a signature could you?
Now I have to add a slight worry/niggle/thought I had whilst I was reading. There are occasions where a customer said something and I laughed because I have pondered such things in the past too, a favourite was `Did Charles Dickens ever write anything fun?', that to me makes perfect sense. I also loathe the film tie in copies of books and so `Do you have a copy of Atonement? But not the film cover, please. Keira Knightley's neck makes me want to punch things.' rang rather familiar with me. Did that therefore mean that I was being made fun of?
Thinking like that, if only briefly, I then wondered about questions like `Do you have anything by Jane Eyre?', it sounds like an obvious fool hardy mistake to make if you are well read, yet it could be an easy mistake to make if you are someone new to books and you might just think that Jane Eyre wrote a super novel called `Charlotte Bronte' or this person could be someone daring to go into a bookshop for the first time and that is the only book you have heard of. (The Beard says I am being too picky, he read the book too over my shoulder because I was laughing so much, though he did think it was perhaps a little churlish to mock someone who didn't know in what year a classic book was published.) It made me question if the book, myself and the author were possibly being a little bit smug? I ruled myself out of this because I had asked myself that question; I have since ruled the book and the author out as I have checked Jen's blog and her passion for books and reading is so clear. There are some bookshop owners I have come across though who do think everyone who comes through their door is a little bit thick or beneath them, see `Mrs Cream Cake Scoffer of Southport' for more on that.
Back to `Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' though. Overall I really, really enjoyed it and have already thought of about ten or twelve people that I will have to get copies for as they love books and bookshops as much as me. It has made me wonder if I would still love to have a bookshop one day though, but when I read things like this I couldn't think of anything better...
Customer: Doesn't it bother you, being surrounded by books all day? I think I'd be paranoid they were all going to jump off the shelves and kill me.
Oh and just so you know I haven't quoted some of the funniest, and they are very funny, conversations from the book as I wanted to merely whet your appetite. So if you love books, and I am pretty sure that you do, then you need to get a copy of this for yourself.