If you give a Bookstore Owner a Novel….

If you give a used books store owner an “OPEN” sign …

she will hang it on the front of her shop. As she does, she will see a box of books someone donated last night, sitting by her front door.

She’s going to quickly sort through the books, putting Cornwalls and Grishams straight on the “popular authors” shelf, then sifting slowly for anything special.

When she finds an older work by an enduring author, she’ll get excited, then feel sticker residue on its cover. She will fetch the Goo Be Gone.

Since the Goo Be Gone is stored next to the “one-free-with-purchase” bargain bin, she will notice it’s a disorganized mess from customers digging through it, so she’ll start tidying.

By the time she finishes shuffling these 400 books, she’ll have a small stack of volumes that shouldn’t have been in the bargain bin. She will take them to the computer to value online, and see that great hardback….

She’ll value it, too, and find it’s pretty good. When she adds it to her online inventory, she’ll spot a title sold yesterday in the shop, which she forgot to take off.

While she’s deleting that, she’ll check her 556-strong inventory against other online sellers and reprice several.

This will bring to her attention that a couple of authors she has shelved are now trading up online; she will hop onto the New York Times website and read the obituaries. Sure enough, one of these authors has died.

She will make a display in her shop featuring this author’s prolific career, throwing in a few other deceased writers’ works. She enlists the help of a customer’s grandchildren to make a sign with glitter glue and white cardboard: “GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.” She will have to help the children spell “forgotten.”

This reminds her that  a slew of homeschooling books that came in yesterday are still sitting in a box in the children’s room. She will begin to price and shelve these.

While shelving, she will find a copy of Pyewacket and open it to a random passage, just for a quick trip down nostalgia avenue….

“{AHEM}” she will suddenly hear, and look up to see the customer she forgot was in the shop standing over her with a small stack of books. His grandchildren are covered in glitter. They look happy; Grandpa doesn’t.

She will ring up their purchases and slip a free copy of Pyewacket into the bag with an apologetic smile to Grandpa. As she adds a flyer announcing upcoming events, she will realize that was the last flyer.

She will head for the photocopier, but see that the list is almost outdated, so she’ll go back to the computer and check her file of pending events.

When she finds a tentative plan with a teacher friend to hold a “tasting day” for books with unusual foods mentioned, she’ll e-mail the teacher to cement the date.

While she’s waiting for the teacher’s response, she rings up three more customers, and changes the font and dates on the flyer.

The teacher will confirm the date and she will rush to photocopy the updated flyer, chasing customers down the steps waving it and yelling, “WAIT, WAIT!” This will unnerve the customers, but they will be gracious.

As she turns, she will notice that the front steps need sweeping.

While she is sweeping, the phone will ring. Someone is looking for a book. “It’s about a serial killer in DC. It’s really scary. It’s got a knife on the front cover. You know the one I mean?”

She asks how far away the person lives; learning that he’s a mile up the road, she suggests he visit the shop to look at covers; she is open 10-6 Tuesday through Saturday. The person on the phone will get huffy. “It’s hot out there! If you’re that close, can’t you just find it and drop it off?”

After extracting herself from this call, she pours a glass of wine and sees that it is 6:20. Before she can reach the door, a couple wanders in. They will spend 28 minutes browsing before the husband turns to the wife and says, “Want anything?” She shakes her head. “You?” she asks in turn. “Nah,” says the man. They will leave.

As they exit, she hears a loud “CLUNK” and someone sticks his head in the door. “Left a box for you, with my name inside. Real good books: Patricia Cornwall and John Grisham in hardback! Tally ’em up and call me with the credit, ok? See ya!”

She will take down the open sign and finish her glass of wine, in silence in the gathering dusk, until the phone rings. It will be a friend from out of state. “Whacha doing?”

“Sitting here with a glass of wine, enjoying the quiet.”

“You are so lucky, you know, running your own bookstore! Man, that’s a dream job.”

She will smile.