Friday, September 21, 2007


A pretty regular item on bookshop, and I guess most retailer, blogs is the strange customer enquiry.
My winner on the ‘What data were they possibly basing that question on’ scale is probably ‘do you sell hats?’ I like it best as, while not being spectacular, it is so wildly off the wall. The subject of this post, however, is slightly different and was bought to mind when I mentioned the Question of Upbringing audio yesterday.

The other day a customer came in and asked for a few books, they were for a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and were pretty good books, a customer to be proud of (that sounds really patronising but I’m just scene setting here)
Coming back from the politics section where we had just collected, I think, Looming Tower, we walked past the talking books section- at this point my customer stops and says something like ‘oh my God!.’ Now, I quite like my audio section I think it’s pretty good but even I know it has its limits and would never suspect that it could, quite literally, take someone’s breath away. As it turned out it was not the quality of the section that so impressed it was its very existence. My customer did not know that there were such things as books on tape and was quite delighted to find that there were. I explained that some were abridged, some- obviously I suppose, unabridged and some dramatised. The customer explained that she was ‘a bit behind the times.’
I in no way wish to say the customer was strange but this was one of the oddest exchanges I’ve had in a bookshop- it still seems inconceivable that someone who obviously knows their way around the book world did not know of the existence of books on tape.

I thought it best not to mention cd’s or mp3 players

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