New Year Resolutions Bookslingers Tend not to Make

1. This year, I resolve to keep my manicure perfect. No more scraping off old price stickers, lifting bits of unidentified goo from covers, picking off bits of melted candy from the children’s books. I will not allow them to get dirt trapped beneath from the books. Lovely fingernails will be my priority.

2. Be nicer when people start haggling with me over prices. After all, it’s a terrible economy, and that dollar for the pristine copy of “The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig” could be all that stands between this well-dressed, hair-highlighted woman with the perfect manicure and her last six packages of Raman Noodles. I can eat mac and cheese again tonight.

3. Exercise more. Tonight when the shop closes I’ll get on the treadmill, since the eight miles I covered walking the shop floor today isn’t really exercise. Nor is that “bend from the waist, pick up the stack of hardbacks, back and forth to the shelves as fast as I can go; repeat” thing that comprises about 2 hours of my day. And I have to work off those cheese-covered carbs, because I sold “Three Little Wolves” for 50 cents.

4. Get out there and find authors or artists to support with great in-store publicity and shelving displays at my own expense. I need to help develop single-person-focused events that build ego rather than community, because artists with unrealistic expectations of their place in the world are truly hard to find. I must beat the bushes, and devote more resources to this field of endeavor.*

5. Drink less coffee/tea/vodka. I don’t need it to get myself awake Saturday at 7 a.m. so I can get the shop floor cleared of books by opening time and make that cute display for the upcoming author signing. I don’t need it to make the customer who came in and needs to talk feel welcome and like I have time to listen to her at 11 a.m. I don’t need it to wake myself up at 3 p.m. after a vigorous physical day during which I stuffed a fiber bar in my mouth at lunch because the place was mobbed and my part-time student help didn’t show. And I don’t need it to stay awake at 7 p.m. during the author event, because this paranormal romance is well-edited and has such an innovative plot that I’m fascinated, despite that carb-heavy meal of mac and cheese I wolfed down from 6:32-6:34 p.m.

6. Spend more time in my shop. Ten hours a day six days a week really isn’t enough to get the feel of the place. I must make an effort to be there more often and take a livelier interest in its day-to-day workings.

*Authors and artists, don’t take personal offense. The world needs you! Many wise and wonderful creators understand what’s realistic and what isn’t — like Lisa Pell and Heather Volk and others who have been a pleasure to work with. But, as one small bookstore owner and I discussed recently, we average five people per week asking to do signings or display items. Not all of them are cued up–or polite.

How Did it Get this Messy??!!

Our bookshop is a tip. (That’s Scottish for a garbage dump.) I was touring Andrew, our shopsitter for Sept. 20-Nov. 20, around the place. He arrived yesterday, and as I showed him from room to room, shelf to shelf, I realized Jack and I have been a little busy with other things lately, and the shop has… um…

Well, it’s not COMPLETELY our fault, you understand; the books themselves are not helping. Sure, they like to visit other places–the science fiction volumes sneak off at night to visit Christian romances and Patricia Cornwell, as I said before. That’s fine; their private lives are their own, but we really do need them to get back to their own shelves before dawn, and they’re not complying.

Plus, how did the Nature and Travel books all get piled in a jumble below Comparative Religion, since when is Homeschooling in the History section, and why oh why is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Cookery?!

Time for a tuck and tidy, as soon as the Celtic Festival is over. Between now and Saturday life is rather like bull-riding; just concentrate on getting through it without being trampled. Come Sunday, there’s gonna be some serious order imposed on this place. You hear that, you Westerns hanging out with the Harlequins? Don’t think I don’t see you there, or know what you’re up to: makin’ little short stories set in Texas. Well enough of that; we can’t find shelf space for what we’ve got!

Although, come to think of it, if we put the Westerns with the Paranormal Romances for awhile, what do you think that would do to the werewolf phenomenon? Would a new breed of cattle ranchers emerge, ones who can REALLY keep the wolves at bay and pack the women in? Or would the vampires just drain the herd? Hmmm…

Don’t forget that Caption Contest VII closes this Monday! Scroll back to Sept. 10–or was it 12, anyway back a week or so–and put your entry in Comments. And if you’re in the vicinity, Big Stone Celtic is Saturday Sept. 22 in downtown Big Stone Gap, VA!