Bookstore Behavior

12 Jan

((Apologies for the late posting, folks. East coast got nailed with some really nasty snow and I lost power for about 12 hours. – Hillary))

So, in light of some extremely unpleasant customers this week (I will refrain from indulging in too much bitching), I present to you some pointers on being a totally awesome bookstore customer.

  • If you’re not really sure what you want…

It’s OK! Feel free to browse around.

Or, feel free to ask me or any other employee on the floor for advice, even if it’s just “Where do you keep your real estate books?” That’s part of why we’re there. Ask me for help, or recommendations. If I don’t know, I’ll find an employee (or possibly a customer!) who does. If you’re asking about a type of book I don’t normally read, I can still tell you who is popular and/or ask someone who DOES read those books for suggestions. I can also ask the internet, if you aren’t sure of the title or author.

You don’t need to apologize for needing help. Every bookstore is different, and I’m more than happy to help you find things. It is, in fact, my job!


If you say you know exactly what you want and send me on a wild goose chase for 20 minutes across the internet and the whole of the bookstore, after which I triumphantly hand you your book… at which point you change your mind and decide not to get it, I will be slightly peeved.

  • If you picked up a book you thought was awesome over in the Cooking section, but changed your mind by the time you got to Science…

You have a few options. You can take the book back to where you found it. You can find an employee and say “Could you put this back for me, I’ve changed my mind about it.” You can take the book with you to checkout, and say to the cashier “I’m sorry, I’ve changed my mind about this one”. If all else fails, you can even stack the books on the floor (in a corner hopefully, so nobody trips), though this is probably the least desirable option.


Do not, under any circumstances, just shove the books onto whatever shelf is in front of you. Especially do not /hide/ the books behind the books currently on whatever shelf is in front of you. If someone comes in really wanting that book on Sticky Widgets, and it’s hidden behind a solid row of fiction books because you changed your mind, I can’t sell them the book, and the store loses money.

Also, do not stash your used cups/wrappers/food items/nasty chewed on toothpicks, especially not used cups full of tobacco spit, behind books in various sections. We have trash cans!

  • If you have a large number of books that you’d like to sort through and see if you really still intend to purchase all of them…

We have tables and chairs in a few locations, and any employee would be more than happy to get you a cart if you’d like that instead. We’ll even take your reject pile and put it away for you.


Do not wait until you are at the cashier with 12 people behind you to sort through your cart-full of  books, one by one, deciding whether you want them or not. Not only are you wasting my time, as the cashier, but you are also wasting the time of everyone in line behind you. (Note: this is not the same as realizing your total is higher than you can manage and saying “no thanks” to one or more items to keep your price where you can afford it. That is always OK.)

  • If you have a coupon…

Read it! If it says “On July 13, 2010 only” that coupon will only work on the 13th of July in 2010. If it says “for one item only”, it means only one item. Don’t ask the cashier if s/he will put it on two items, just for you. Don’t try to hand me two coupons – I can’t even DO two coupons in the point-of-sale. One coupon only. This also means that if you have a discount card and a coupon… you can’t use both. Please don’t get mad at the cashier who explains this. It’s all written right there on the coupon!

And if the coupon is good for one item, I’ll use it on the most expensive item you have. In fact, I don’t even have to do anything – the computer AUTOMATICALLY picks the most expensive item. I promise. I’ll even show you the discount tags on the receipt.


If you’re one of those people who carry a duffel bag sized purse with every receipt in it since 2004, please try to find your coupon and your wallet (or your bills and change, if they just get dumped in with all the rest) before you’re the first person in line at the register on a sale day with a massive line behind you.

  • If the store is nearly closed, but you’re not quite done yet…

Ask me to put the books you know that you want on hold, and come back in a day or two to finish. Or purchase those three, and I’ll help you make a note for tomorrow of things you still need to look at. If you’d like to browse, please come in with ample time to do so. If you need a last minute gift for your soccer-loving niece Hilda, come in, ask me for help and we’ll get you on your way lickety-split.


Do not bring your gaggle of children into the store 5 minutes before closing, point them towards the children’s section (where they, unattended, will wreak havoc that I will have to stay late to clean up) and decline to have any help, saying that you’re “just browsing” until 10:10, when a manager finally has to tell you that the store is closed and you really do have to leave, at which point you do so without buying anything.

  • If you think something is mispriced…

Ask me, and I’ll check it for you. That happens, especially if you find a book that is supposed to have a companion CD or whatever, and the copy in your hand doesn’t have one, or if you picked up a book and discovered that someone has made beautiful art with purple crayon all over chapter 4. If the price is incorrect, I’ll change it right then and there with my Magic Price Gun.


Do not argue with me when I tell you that the price is correct, after asking our pricing program and another employee. I promise, I’m not trying to rip you off, and I’m not a moron. I don’t pull prices out of my ass, there is a logic to all of this, even if there is a little flexibility due to condition and how long a book has been in the store.

  • If you have books of a “sensitive nature”…

You don’t need to explain them to me. I check all kinds of books out all day long. Most of the time, I barely notice what they are, and I certainly won’t remember them 5 minutes from now. If you have a book that is a gift for a person currently in the store with you, I’ll do my best to hide it (and wrap it in an extra bag at the bottom of your purchase so it’ll stay hidden).


Please keep the TMI information about your health/bodily functions to yourself. Really. I don’t need to know, and I can’t give you advice, and instead of being a random customer buying books, you’ve assured yourself a place on the memorable list.

And not in a good way.


One Response to “Bookstore Behavior”

  1. Sarai January 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people feel like they have to hide the stuff they leave on the shelves. They do the same thing in grocery stores- I’ll find random bags of chips stuffed behind the toilet paper and so forth.

    Although I -can- understand why they’d want to hide the box after they take the (insert random expensive item here) out and pocket it. Darn shoplifters. *grumps*

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