Take a Look Inside a Book

I recently realized that no one has ever asked me, “What is the one piece of advice you would give to a Book Fair customer?” I know you’ve been busy, what with the holidays and all, so I’m prepared to overlook your omission and pretend you asked. So what one piece of advice WOULD I give to a Book Fair customer?

Please look at the book before you get it to checkout.

We’ll avoid so many nasty scenes that way, see. Just open it up and look it over, okay. I know there are lots of other customers and they’re all grabbing books and if you don’t hurry THEY will get the GOOD ones and you got up late this morning and didn’t get here until the Fair had been open for three minutes and there are only SEVEN hours of shopping left and so many wonderful books await to be snatched away from those OTHER people. But look at the time you’ll save later. We’ll keep away from

!. Why Did I Take This? We all do it: reach for that copy of Bridges of Madison County and pick up Anna Karenina instead. Eliminate some of the clutter at checkout discard tables by checking first.

2. This Costs HOW Much? Glance inside when you pick it up, huh? Honest, we do not segregate all the $25 books in one place so they don’t touch the $3 books. Look twice. (There are certain books which get picked up three times every day of the Book Fair and find their way back to the table because someone somehow didn’t realize the price was fifteen dollars and not fifteen cents. We, um, don’t sell books for fifteen cents.)

3. Oh, It’s Volume 2; Where’s Volume 1? Of course you don’t remember where you picked up the book, dear. Oh, it was in the History section? Excellent! That means somewhere on those eight tables of books is the one you didn’t notice. Um, by the way, did you look inside, the way we suggested a paragraph ago? See, where the price should have been is a little note which would say…ah, it says “3 vols. See vol. 1” See, now that averts the Sequel Fate, where you finally find the other volume and take it to check out and find that now you have volumes 2 and 3 but still no volume 1. (Some people give up at this point, and beg to be allowed to buy volumes 2 and 3 alone. If we allow this, we will have a customer within the hour who has volume 1 and wants to know if we can help find the missing ones, piling tragedy upon tragedy.)

4. Um, This Book Is In Japanese. THAT customer actually got the book home before noticing, but she’s been a really good sport about it and didn’t demand a refund. She has, however, accused me every year since of pulling a fast one, letting her buy a big, expensive art book in Japanese when I should have known by looking at her she didn’t read Japanese. I have been a good sport as well. I’ve never told her that after one glance, I knew she was only going to look at the pictures anyhow. 

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