Observations on working at a major book retailer

Some of you know that I work part-time as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. I enjoy bookstores. I like to browse the shelves, see what’s new, smell the freshly printed pages, feel the different kinds of paper. Working at the store helps me maintain contact with the world of fiction, which I have missed ever since leaving behind my English major as an undergraduate to pursue graduate studies in theology.

And the discount doesn’t hurt, either.

As part of my job as the opening bookseller on Saturday mornings, I have to scan the new fiction and romance titles into the computer. I use this fancy laser device that reads the barcodes and creates lists which are then accessible to booksellers throughout the week, so that they know what titles are on the "new fiction" and "new romance" shelves.

Suffice it to say, I come across some hilarious titles. Primarily in the romance section, of course. Back during the Christmas shopping season, I took a couple minutes out of my day to record the best titles currently on display. (I could put together a whole new list for the titles up now, but this will do nicely.)
  • The Mane Attraction
  • A Knight Well Spent
  • Tall, Dark, and Texan
  • Lord of the Forest
  • Single White Vampire
  • All I Want For Christmas Is a Vampire
  • Have Yourself a Naughty Little Santa
It’s hard to maintain your composure when handling books with titles like this.

Despite the amount of junk published every week, in an age of iPhones and Kindles, I am glad to be in a place where tangible books are made available for people to peruse and purchase. As much as I love technology, nothing beats the feel and smell of a new book (whether actually new or a used book newly acquired).

Perhaps at a future date I will post some thoughts about the moral-ethical side of working at a bookstore. I don’t mean the whole capitalist-industrial complex bit. Rather, I mean the things you learn as a worker having to handle customers who are often difficult and abrasive. It can be a real lesson in patience. But that’s for another day.


a. steward said…
Do you get a discount on music? (If you're still buying physical copies of stuff)

I don't know if you've ever seen the wall of shame, which I inherited from Halden and am presently curating myself, but I run into quite a few gems myself. For instance:

- Marxist Minstrels: On the Communist Perversion of Music
- The Magic of Telephone Evangelism
- A Geocentricity Primer
- 88 reasons why the rapture might happen in 1988.
Anonymous said…
Dude, I also am a theology student who works at Barnes and Noble. I'm a cafe grunt though.

One of the most exciting days in my life was last week when I say David Bentley Hart's new book in receiving on my way to the stock room to get more whipped cream.