This is a new feature I'll be doing regularly. I frequent a couple bookstores on a weekly basis--for writing, reading, coffee and general people watching. I've seen some crazy stuff. And crazier people. I thought it would be fun to chronicle some of the most hilarious or horrible things I've seen. The good stuff doesn't all happen in the books! I've enlisted the help of a few bookstore employees. I'm keeping their identities a secret to protect the innocent (and the guilty). These men and women are awesome, intelligent and impressively patient to put up with readers and writers behaving badly. *Sigh* Sadly, it happens.
This week, I'll start things off with my observations and a few guidelines. Nothing beats a trip to your local brick and mortar store. I'm a book store junkie. If you are too, or know someone who is, here are a few handy tips to assist you with the perfect book buying experience (all taken from real experiences):
Don't pitch your partially finished, unedited manuscript to the manager at your local bookstore. They sell books. They won't pimp yours. Remember, you're there to buy or browse, not sell. Besides, if you think this is a great place to sell your book, your book is probably nowhere near ready for publication. Head on over to the writing section, and pick up a few books for aspiring writers while you're there.
Do act appropriately. For example, if you're interested in a book about adults who stray from their marriage, that's your business. Please don't ask the staff if they would consider cheating on their significant other, or who they'd consider as potential cheating material. No really.
Don't piss off the baristas. This includes ordering a latte that no one has ever heard of just to sound important. If you ask for a white chocolate mocha without chocolate, but with a dash of caramel syrup, no foam, and make it a cappuccino it's poor form. And ridiculous. If you then come back to complain that the temperature of your latte was supposed to be 165 degrees, not 167, you look doubly foolish. Even other customers want to bean you in the head by this point.
Do be respectful of the other bookstore patrons. It's great that you were on the local news station because you witnessed a burglary and called 911. But if you have a conversation loud enough that people two counties over can hear it, we're not impressed, only annoyed. Likewise for your amazing interview skills with potential wedding photographers, and how you discovered your husband was cheating. And along those lines...
Do bring your iPod and headphones if you plan to sit and read or write. Some conversations are fascinating, but many are better left unheard.
Don't come in and sit to read a "new" book while drinking coffee a few days in a row. I'll admit, I think it's awesome a retired man would make such an effort to read a Nora Roberts book, but that's what libraries are for. The purchase of a cup of coffee doesn't give you the right to read a book without purchase. From start to finish. Three days in a row.
So there you have it. My first list of helpful hints for a wonderful bookstore experience. What's your worst/best bookstore story?