Books · REVIEWS

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

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.

BOOKSELLER : . . .

“What is your biggest pet peeve?” This simple Twitter question posted by John Cleese inspired bookseller and writer Jen Campbell to start a blog collecting all the amusing, baffling, and just plain hilarious exchanges taking place in her bookstore, everything from “Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?” to “Did Charles Dickens ever write anything fun?” Anyone who has worked in retail will nod knowingly at requests like “I’ve forgotten my glasses, can you read me the first chapter?” Or the absurdity of questions like “Excuse me…is this book edible?” And not to be missed is the chapter “Books for Kindling” — a revealing look at the battle between e-books and p-books. Filled with fun and quirky illustrations by award-winning Brothers McLeod and featuring contributions from booksellers across the United States and Canada, as well as the author’s native UK, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores is a celebration of bookstores large and small, and of the brilliant booksellers that toil in those literary fields, as well as the myriad of colorful characters that walk through the doors every day. This irresistible collection is proof positive that booksellers everywhere are heroes.

Personal Thoughts:

For someone who spends a lot of time in bookshops, I can’t help but get captured by the title of this book, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. I mean, seriously, any book lover out there who saw the title of this book will surely pick the book and browse (if not buy). I myself, convinced to read this book by the title alone and I think this is a nice quick read for book lovers.

Just like what the title says, this book is a collections of snippets of conversations that customers says inside a bookshops. Most of the conversations are observed and documented by the author when she has been working for ‘The Edinburgh Bookshop’ and ‘Ripping Yarns Bookshop’. The book is absolutely hilarious and full of weird and sarcastic conversations that will have you laughing or shaking your head while wondering how clueless some people are about books. The only problem with this book is it’s too quick to read that you will want more after you finished it. But don’t worry, I’ve heard that there will be a second book coming out April next year. Jen Campbell write/compiled more weird conversation in her next book, “More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops”.

I think most of the conversations presented in this book are true. Some maybe exaggerated to add more humor or ring sarcastic but nonetheless effective. As a book shopper myself, I did have some experiences too with this kind of weird conversation inside the bookstores. The most vivid scenario I can recall was a time I spent in customer service counter of our local bookstore. I was asking for a hardbound copy of a certain book when I heard someone on the counter asking for any John Gray books. I’m not sure if there is a writer with that name but I’m sure John Green exist. So after a less than a minute of searching to their database and the bookseller didn’t find one I said to both of them “why don’t you try John Green?”. And it turns out, that is exactly what the customer is looking for. The guy is buying a book for his girlfriend and all he can remember is the first name John with the last name that starts with letter “G” which is also a name of a color and the cover of the book is blue. Obviously he is looking for a copy of The Fault in our Stars which is one of my favorite read this year.

Anyway, back to the book, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops is a quick and highly entertaining book that I think every bibliophile will enjoy reading. It is also a nice present to fellow book lover friends, readers, writers or bookseller this coming Christmas. Here are some of the quotes / weird conversations from the book that I want to leave to all of you for a little humor & a peak of what are you getting if you buy a copy. Enjoy reading 🙂

CUSTOMER: Do you have any books on the dark arts?
BOOKSELLER: … No.
CUSTOMER: Do you have any idea where I could find some?
BOOKSELLER: Why don’t you try Knockturn Alley?
CUSTOMER: Where’s that?
BOOKSELLER: Oh, the centre of London.
CUSTOMER: Thanks, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for it.

CUSTOMER: Have yo got Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence?
BOOKSELLER (pulling the book off the shelf): Sure. That will be £5.99, please.
CUSTOMER: Hasn’t we written anything cheaper?

CUSTOMER: Does this book come in other versions?
BOOKSELLER: I can check on the computer for you.
CUSTOMER: It’s just that I don’t like the way that this one pans out.

CUSTOMER: I’m looking for a book about this big (indicates size). I’ve got a space on my bookshelf and I need to fill it.
BOOKSELLER: What kind of book would you like?
CUSTOMER: I don’t care, just as long as it’s this exact size.

CUSTOMER : Do you have a copy of Jane Eyre?
BOOKSELLER : Actually, I just sold that this morning, sorry!
CUSTOMER : Oh. Have you read it?
BOOKSELLER : Yes, it’s one of my favorite books.
CUSTOMER : Oh, great (sits down beside bookseller). Could you tell me all about it? I have to write an essay on it by tomorrow.

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 of my wife. I know she’d really love a signed copy. You couldn’t fake a signature could you?

CUSTOMER (to her friend): What’s this literary criticism section? Is it for books that complain about other books?

CUSTOMER: Do you have a copy of Bella Swan’s favorite book?
(Bookseller sighs and pulls a copy of Wuthering Heights off the shelf)
CUSTOMER: Do you have the one with the cover that looks like Twilight?
BOOKSELLER: No, This is an antiquarian bookshop, so this is an old edition of the book.
CUSTOMER: But it’s still the one with that girl Cathy and the dangerous guy, right?
BOOKSELLER: Yes, it’s still the story by Emily Bronte.
CUSTOMER: Right. Do you think they’ll make it into a film?
BOOKSELLER: They’ve made several films of it. The one where Ralph Fiennes plays Heathcliff is very good.
CUSTOMER: What? Voldemort plays Heathcliff?
BOOKSELLER: Well..
CUSTOMER: But that’s Edward’s role.
BOOKSELLER: Wuthering Heights was written well before both Harry Potter and Twilight.
CUSTOMER: Yeah, but Voldemort killed Cedric, who’s played by Robert Pattison, and now Voldemort’s playing Edward’s role in Wuthering Heights, because Edwards’ character is Heathcliff. I think that Emily Bronte’s trying to say something about vampires.
BOOKSELLER: … that’s £8.
CUSTOMER: For what?
BOOKSELLER: For the book.
CUSTOMER: Oh, no it’s OK, I’m going to go and try and find the Voldemort DVD version.

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