Radio silence, reflections of a former bookseller

If you follow my blog with any regularity, you might have noticed that I’ve missed a few posts here and there the past few weeks.  I guess I underestimated how long packing an entire apartment + one bedroom at the parents’ house would take.  Since my friend’s wedding last weekend, I’ve been running around like mad trying to get everything in order for a move out-of-state.  Then, there’s the inevitable freak-outs, which of course, take up quite a bit of time.

Last Friday was my last day as a bookseller at Half-Price Books.  It was a bittersweet day, although I’m sure I’ll be returning to visit plenty this upcoming year.  Reflecting on my year as a bookseller, though, I can say I’ve learned a few things.  I’ve learned that there are millions of excellent books, more than I could ever read, or want to read.  Toward the end of my time at Half-Price Books, all the books I wanted to borrow exceeded the number of books I wanted to buy.  To no surprise, I loved requesting books for customers, handselling being one of the most important ways to introduce readers to new books.  Plus, the people who work in bookselling are some of the most special, funny, intelligent people I’ve ever met.

On the other hand, working in bookselling has disheartened me as to America’s reading habits.  My store was in one of Cincinnati’s most staid, conservative suburb, and so our clientale was typically soccer moms, P&G executives on lunch break, and old people.  Lots of old, cranky people.  Old people who stand outside the store half an hour before we open, knocking on the glass while we’re vaccuming.  They then rush in with 10 boxes of their moldy, old books that have been sitting in their attic for 10 years.  Then they complain when we only offer them $2, refusing to understand why we don’t want their nasty old Reader’s Digest.  *Grr.*  But the real disheartening factor was the caliber of books purchased by our regular customers.  While there might be the occasional soccer mom or college kid checking out some Descartes or Jane Eyre, the majority of classics were sold to pissed-off high school students who would rather read the SparkNotes.  Most of the books sold, however, were crappy romance paperbacks and James Pattersons, on repeat.  I know I should appreciate all examples of the written word, but some things aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.  Sorry, but it’s true.  Getting away from bookselling in Mason, Ohio might just restore my faith in literature and the reading public.

But all that aside, work is done and I’ve dipped into a minor depression at the idea of not having a steady paycheck.  Luckily, I’ve been distracted by packing and getting things squared away for the move.  Today alone, I hit up the post office and insurance agency, got my hair cut, and switched banks.  Blah.  Moving out of state is a pain in the ass.  There’s not much else to do, and thus begins the waiting game.  This, I believe, is worse than getting ready.  Part of me knows I’ll be incredibly homsick moving to Michigan.  But another part of me is excited to move to our amazing townhouse and begin a grown-up life.  Living in Clifton, or bumming around my parents’ house, doesn’t say “adult.” 

So what this long story is trying to say:  prepare for some radio silence on my end for another few days.  This includes Literary Devotionals and Poetry Fridays.  Unfortunately, Good Poems and The Intellectual Devotional are packed away in a box of books weighing over 100 lbs.  I’m about to finish Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King, and soon afterward will start Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I’m super excited, but even more excited to get all my books set up in the new townhouse.  Can we say new bookcases?  So stay tuned.  I’ll be back soon.

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4 thoughts on “Radio silence, reflections of a former bookseller

  1. Look, I’m reading your blog! Yay!

    I had to comment on being a bookseller, because it is of course depressing sometimes. One of the worst is when adults twice my age don’t know the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Or when their high school child purchases a literature classic…along with the spark notes. Or when a 14-year-old boy asks where the Glen Beck books are. It’s amazing the knowledge our little store has to offer, and all anyone wants to read is Nora Roberts.

    As a side note, I put Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on my stash the other day! I’m reading Everything Is Illuminated right now.

    Oh, wait, I actually just thought of my least favorite HPB customer. The person who comes up with 10 James Patterson/Danielle Steel/general Mr. Crappy McPaperback writer and then hands me an educator discount card. SERIOUSLY? WHAT ARE YOU TEACHING CHILDREN??

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