Shelving What Matters Most

Last night, with about a hundred things to do to get ready for tonight’s murder mystery in the bookstore (starts at 7, if you’re in the neighborhood) I wound up culling our online inventory.

You know the drill; it’s a form of avoidance therapy we’ve all practiced, this sudden need to do a job that’s been sitting around for weeks and has nothing to do with the urgent things before you, but just at that moment the planets align and there could be no better thing to do with one’s time than….

…reconcile the printed inventory list of 452 books with the titles on the online shelf. Mostly these books are hard to find for some reason and thus in high demand. The list being very dynamic, it’s a tussle to keep the right books on that shelf. Hard to find cuts both ways.

So I went at it. With my husband one floor below me installing a floor for our new bedroom (took him only eight hours; we’re very proud!) and foster kittens sullying the mystery room with every passing moment, despite baking and cleaning and last minute “how did this get there” tidying to be done, I grasped the list of titles firmly and spent 2 glorious hours playing a game of solitaire with books.

Is the book on the shelf? Fine, mark it off the paper list. Is the book on the list but not the shelf? Search the bookstore section it should be in. Is the book AWOL? Make another list. After all, tomorrow is another day.

When it was over, the bookstore was in chaos. Piles of mis-categorized books on the table. Gaping holes in the online shelf where books were falling over, falling off. Dust from ancient tomes everywhere.

Most satisfying. I cleaned up the debris, then made a half-hearted start at my “to do” list for the murder. As it turned out, things weren’t nearly so awful as I’d supposed. Pick up a dog toy here, straighten a shelf there: twenty minutes, and the place looked good. Screw the baking; we’ll serve ice cream sundaes.

Work expands to fill the time allotted it. If I’d given it two hours, I’d have found two hours’ worth of tidying. But you know, the time spent among the books, happily alphabetizing and culling and imposing a sweet sense of order on a random corner of the universe – well, sometimes it just does a body good to putter. Let the mad world whirl by; the books and I had a grand evening.


Filed under book repair, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Shelving What Matters Most

  1. doubtless the inner librarian in all us booksellers…….

  2. Didn’t know about the online list. How do I find it????

  3. Sally

    I’ll be doing my inner librarian thing on Sunday when I have a work morning down at our Animal Shelter Thrift Shop to ready it for our one weekend a month sale (June 7 & 8, 9-2pm. in Johnson City at 1404 East Main Street). Sorting and tidying the book section is my favorite job. Then I’ll do shoes!

  4. Thanks for the link to

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