Sunday, November 23, 2008

Busy Days.

The store is starting to get busier, which is great. This is when I really try to spend as much time as I can on the sales floor. I get to touch the books, say "hi" to the regulars, and joke with the staff. I especially love handselling a title to someone. Handselling can be so much fun. It is part psychiatry, part sleuthing. You have to know how to read people and what questions to ask to get the right clues for what kind of book they will like. To be a good handseller, it helps if you have been a bookseller for a while (at least a year), and it is really critical that you read, a lot. After some time as a bookseller, you can begin to read people, and generally tell what kind of book they will and will not like. This is certainly not fool-proof. The longer you have been a bookseller, and the more you read, the bigger your arsenal for recommendations. I can almost always recommend books to people who liked One Hundred Years of Solitude and books by Salman Rushdie. I went through a big mystical fiction kick some time back. If you are wondering, I would suggest Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin and anything by Haruki Murakami.

There are problems. I don't read much science fiction (ok, none really), so I am not much help to someone who wants a recommendation in that genre. But, I know where to get information. This is where the sleuthing part comes in. Do they like fantasy or strait science fiction? Are they a Mists of Avalon person, or more of a Phillip K. Dick fan?

But when I get someone who wants a good international mystery, a book about food, or a book of modern western fiction (a la Proulx), I can be quite helpful, and the person will leave with a list of suggestions, and hopefully a book or two.


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