Filed under: thoughtful
Working with books in retail is certainly not all reading or helping customers. There is also the physical side of stocking the books as well as (at least for me) a sadder event that happens every few months that is referred to as RPL. Unfortunately, there really is no bookshop or library large enough to hold every book (unless we are talking about L-Space) so every now and then books have to be pulled off the shelves to allow space for the plethora of new books that come out.
Many of the books that are pulled are either hard back books that will soon be available in soft back or books which we have a large quantity of so we only send some back. However, there are also those books and authors sent back that simply did not sell. I admit this is always a melancholy (I admit I am a bit soppy and romantic) process for me as I stumble across books that I had never heard of before and it is likely many other people have not heard of before. Granted, after reading Moers’ The City of Dreaming Books it is a bit more pleasant to think of this unread books as merely slumbering until someone shows up to waken them.
Additionally, – and I must say this bothers me the most – there are the strippables, which are mostly mass market books. Once these books are taken off the shelf the covers are ripped off and the covers are packaged and mailed back so the store gets credit. However, the remainder of the book is thrown away. I hate this. It seems immensely wasteful and ideally while this process is less expensive than shipping the entire book back, ultimately a perfectly good text is pitched.
On a happier note, I recently gained the privilege (i.e. I asked – it is always good to ask) to order books for the store that strike my fancy. There are so many books that exist it is impossible to have them all represented in one location but it is nice to sneak in a few gems that otherwise would not appear at the store. For example, after recently alphabetizing the store’s poetry section I realized just how shabby our collection was. To remedy this I have placed a few orders and I was quite thrilled when Nin Andrew’s Sleeping With Houdini arrived a few days ago.