“Is That the Bookstore?”

crazy bookstoreMaybe it’s that blood moon. Maybe it’s the pollen count making us all high on Sudafed. Or maybe I just happened to catch the best moments, but this week has produced some absolute classics in “funniest things ever said in a bookstore.” Here are three of my recent favorites:

*phone rings*

“Hello, is that the bookstore? I am downsizing and have a truckload of books for you.”
“Oh, lovely…” Oh, sh———
“These are all that’s left. I’ve burned about as many as are still here, but I can’t burn fast enough. Would you come and get these?”


*door opens, two women enter*
First woman: “We heard you could tell us how to market a book.”

Me: “Pardon?”
First woman: “We wrote a book. It’s a mystery, set ’round here. We’ve sold a lot to our family and friends, people that know us, but we want to sell it to more people.”

Second woman (to first): “Maybe she could sell it in here.”

First woman (looking around, shakes head): “Nah. Too many books in here, it’d get lost. (to me) Can you give us any ideas on how to sell it?”


*phone rings*

“Is that the bookstore that has the book about it?”

Me (bracing for impact): “Yes?”

Person: “I’ve written a book. Would you sell it?”

Me: “Sure! We like to promote books by local authors, but we can’t do any specific special promo because we don’t have the space. We have a shelf first thing when you come into the store, and we will put it there with the others. If you want to put a sign up on top of the shelf or hang it from the ceiling, we do that for the first six months your book is out.”

Person: “Well, my book is only available on Amazon. Could you put up a sign telling people to buy it there?”

Y’all come on down. We’re here, bricks, mortar, books, sense of humor and all.



12 thoughts on ““Is That the Bookstore?”

  1. Please tell me what your response was to “can you tell people to buy it on Amazon?”. We get people posting on our store facebook page all the time lately. People we’ve never met. I delete immediately . I want them to ask first. I know that’s not in the spirit of reading but we have other people who take the time to stop in, introduce themselves etc.And actually live near us.

  2. I told him Amazon was not nice to bookstores or self-published authors, even though he might think they were, told him to check out a couple of facts online, and said if he had a print run of his book we’d be happy to carry it. Who knows? I had a lady say once that I was “unnecessarily mean” about Amazon, which had “done so much for writers who might not otherwise get into print.” Yeah. So much…

  3. I just bought your book at an indie bookstore on the Oregon Coast (Cloud & Leaf, Manazanita, OR), and am finding it delightful! So I popped online to see more, and now there is a churning hamster in my brain thinking about visiting a friend in NC and renting a car to drive the 4 hours to visit you! Would need a recommendation on where to stay…
    But I also now have to ask about the above comments: where else can you get a print run that doesn’t require a bulk order? I am a self-published Amazon author as of last year, and planning to publish my second novel this year, but so far, my research has shown me mostly ebook sites and lots of vanity-press-type POD operations… I would love to be carried by B&T or Ingrams for independent bookstores to be able to order without Amazon, but… who would POD at a reasonable price? I’ll see what other options I can find before summer pub time comes.
    Loving the book. Congratulations, and happy Easter!

    • You might check out Lulu and IndieBound? You might also find my friend Michael Samerdyke online. He self-publishes with Lulu and seems to like them well; he can tell you the ins and outs of promoting via them, and how to work with distributors. I think Ingram’s accepts Lulu.

      Friends have had terrible experiences with Publish America and iUniverse. Are you familiar with the online sites for self-publishers, giving good and bad reviews of their experiences? For the life of me I can’t think what it is called, but something like Writers Ink or Writers Digest Wall of Shame? Something very straightforward. And C. Hope Clark runs a great site on writing resources for self- and house-publishing authors.

      • Yes, I have a friend in fact who has used Lulu, but I thought it was better for color, picture books, and the like. And Indiebound- yes, I’ve read each issue for the past 6 or 7 months cover to cover (as you know, they’re about 4 pages!) but didn’t know they had a publishing side– thought it was just for booksellers. Thanks for pointing those out to circle back to!
        And yes, I follow WD… didn’t know about their Wall of Shame, but have seen similar sites. Scary stuff. I also didn’t know about the anti-local holiday campaign that Amazon ran until I read your piece on it! They’re not still doing that, are they? Ugh. So much to learn. :-/

      • The Amazon campaign really backfired on them. IndieBound may not be the right name. it’s a print on demand service? Oh, CherishBound. It only does family books, I’m getting confused. No, ignore the IndieBound thing. Sue Roegge, who has a store in Wisconsin, had some great info in her responses as well. Yep. so much to learn. So many weird scams AND great ideas out there! :]

  4. I shouldn’t speak for all indie booksellers (of course- duh) but I do attend meetings in my region and I can tell you that it is very problematic for people to approach us and ask us to stock their books and do events when they publish through Amazon.Most of the discussions are about how to explain our position to Amazon authors. There are principle reasons but you should also know that Amazon only allows us to get 25% discount through Ingram etc when our regular terms are 42% (app, it varies). Please know that a 42% discount makes it hard enough to keep the doors open. On top of that Amazon books are non returnable. That is out of the question. We order “event” quantities. Quantities we would never just absorb into our inventory after the event. From our point of view, it’s actually outrageous, really. We do the work and planning and take on costs of holding an event to support authors, spread the word about great reads and all those sincere, virtuous reasons, but we also have bills to pay.

  5. We are very supportive of our local ,self published authors. We talk with anyone who comes in if they have questions. If they are recently published and wondering about how to market their book, we advise them as much as we can from our point of view.
    We leave ourselves a little gray area with our no Amazon published policy but one deal breaker would be requiring the author to bring the copies for the event and we get 40% when the day is done.
    Luckily most of our authors have avoided publishing with Amazon. They use Northstar Press, Beaver’s Pond etc.

  6. And now for something almost completely different: my favorite question of a public librarian, told to me by the librarian in a small Midwestern town. I heard the story in the early ’70s, but it happened much earlier, she said. Someone called the library and asked, “What time do you all shut up down there?”

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