Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

book and bookselling related stuff.
i've written some books about this sort of thing.
new book: the bookshop book is out autumn 2014
more about that at

I wish people would let me have my fun

Customer: Do you sell inanimate objects?
Me: …Yes. We sell books. 
Customer: Are those inanimate objects?
Me: Technically speaking yes, but I could get sentimental and say that books have souls and are full of living characters. 
Customer: *looks very confused* 
Customer: Right. But books don’t move, do they?
Me: No. 
Customer: So they’re inanimate, right?
Me: *sigh* Yes.

Weird Things… Book Club

Folks of Tumblr! I’ve set up a Book Club over on the ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ Facebook page. I’ll be nominating a book once a month, and we can all chat about it together. Anyone can join in, and it’s a very casual affair. For all the info, head over here. 

Hopefully see you there :) x

Customer: I need a Latin dictionary.
Bookseller: Ah, are you studying classics?
Customer: No, I’m taking a Spanish course.
Bookseller: ….Don’t you need a Spanish dictionary?
Customer *exasperated* No. Duh. They speak LATIN in LATIN America.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

just another day at the bookshop

Customer: Have you read Jane Eyre?
Me: Yes, it’s one of my favourite books.
Customer: *pulls up a chair and sits down beside me* Great. Can you tell me all about it? I’ve got to write an essay on it by tomorrow and I haven’t read it. If you could focus on the feministy bits, that would be great. And speak slowly, so I can write it down.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Please note: when coming in asking about jobs, don’t lead with: “I don’t actually want a job in a bookshop, but if you’re desperate I could probably force myself to do it.’”

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

weird things customers say in bookshops

Male customer *shouting from the doorway*: Hey, love - you read books, that means you’re intelligent, yeah? So, that must mean you’ll go out with me. Because that would be a very intelligent decision for you to make. 
Me: So, you’re saying that if I say no, I must be stupid?
Male customer: Yeah. Really stupid. 
Me: Does this chat up line work for you very often?
Male customer: Er… 
Me: I’m guessing probably not. 
Male customer: ….
Me: It’s not my job to educate you on how to speak to people respectfully. But there are lots of books in here that could probably assist you. Maybe you should read them. Or get out of my shop. 

(Good grief. Is it wine o’clock yet?)

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

my alice in wonderland collection

Those of you who have been here a while know that my favourite book is Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Quite a few people on the ‘Weird Things…’ Facebook page were asking to see photos of my Alice collection. So here are some of them, below.

Through the Looking Glass - illustrated by John Tenniel. A Puffin Story Book. 1954

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - illustrated by John Tenniel. Puffin 1968. 

A couple of later Penguin editions
Alice’s Adventures Underground, a facsimile of the 1864 manuscript with illustrations by Carroll himself. 
The Yayoi Kusama illustrated edition from 2012

The Tove Jansson illustrated edition. 
An Arthur Rackham
A 1949 1st of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
A 1921 John Tenniel edition published by Macmillan.
& I have a few others, which are back up north (I really should move all my books out of my mum’s attic…) including a Ralph Steadman, a Meryvn Peake and the lovely Helen Oxenbury edition of Alice. 

Which are your favourites? Do you collect different editions of certain books yourself? xx