Archive for 2010

Overheard in a Bookshop

“Do you have maps?  You know, actual maps. Mappy maps…

People say the strangest things and every bookseller has stories to tell about some of the funny questions they’ve been asked or amusing things they’ve overheard whilst out on the shop floor. To celebrate Independent Booksellers Week this week, independent booksellers around the country were invited to share some of their favourites.

Congratulations go to competition winners Scarthin Books, Cromford, Derbyshire, who thought they had the perfect book for a customer asking if they stocked any titles on restoring boats…

Scarthin Books, Cromford, Derbyshire

Customer: Hello, I recently bought a wooden boat and wondered if you had a book that tells me how to go about restoring it?

(having recently acquired several boxes of second hand boating books):  Actually, we do….we have one called How to Restore Your Wooden Runabout (Boat) by Don Danenberg.

Mmmm…that’s not quite what I was looking for…

David Booker, Publishing and E-commerce Manager, Scarthin Books, said: “We are really pleased to have won, it’s made my weekend.  We have the Celebrating Cromford Festival during IBW, so we’ll be sharing our prize of a case of wine with our staff and customers during the festivities.”
Other entries which made the judges’ shortlist, highlighted some of the unusual requests and quirky moments in the day in the life of an independent bookseller.  They include:

2. A rather smart middle-aged female customer, accompanied by a sullen looking teenager who, having browsed for a while, bought a copy of The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Half an hour after leaving the shop, she reappeared at the counter waving the book and demanding her money back. When one of the shop’s staff asked what was wrong, she replied:
“It’s absolute rubbish – there’s not even anything about Italy in it. My daughter is planning to go Euro-railing in the summer and there don’t seem to be sections on any of the countries she wants to visit.”

3. Said by one elderly lady to her companion as she was browsing the gardening section…
“The first time I was kidnapped…”

4. “Do you have maps? You know, actual maps. Mappy maps…”

5. A customer, on seeing a copy of Great Expectations:
“Look, they bring books out on all the TV programmes now.”

6. “Can you tell me if Anne Frank wrote any other books?”

7. Customer: I’m quite a staunch feminist you know.
Bookseller: Er…..hello
Customer (handing over a slip of paper): Could you tell me whether you’re able to get hold of these 3 titles on feminism for me…
Bookseller: No problem, I can order all three of them and they should be here by tomorrow.
Customer: My goodness, aren’t men so much quicker with technology than women!

8. Customer: I need two presents, but they can’t be books, because we’ve got too many.
Bookseller: We. Are. A. BOOKSHOP.

9. A customer, asking for a copy of one of their bestsellers, socialist classic, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell:
“Do you have a copy of The Ragged Legged Anthropologist?

10. “I don’t know why you bother with Waterstone’s down the road… There’s no way you can compete, it seems futile…I’ll take these ones please.”

11. A lady approached the counter holding a copy of David Copperfield and asked:
“Did Charles Dickens write any shorter versions of his books?”

12. Bookseller’s daughter, on spotting Richard Hammond’s new book facing out on the shelf and said:
“Look, there’s the man with the big red balls.”

Caxton Books & Gallery in Frinton held a Bedtime Stories event this week – a great success!  We’re looking at creating a Gallery for IBW pics, so do please keep sending them in!

Elaine Silverwood from Silverdell Bookshop in Kirkham featured on Simon Mayo’s Drivetime on BBC Radio 2 last night, and had the presenters in raptures over her specially devised A-Mayo-zing ice cream (not my pun…!) – you can hear Elaine on – she was on about 6.35 pm.  She also had a Lynda La Plante event last night – she too got her own ice cream, Blood and Bones…!

Keep them coming in please!

The Book Hive in Norwich features in an IBW report on Working Lunch today – catch it on iPlayer (1.30pm, BBC2) .  Also the Guardian is running a photo gallery online for indie booksellers Remember to send in your photos and news of IBW events.  Hope you’re having fun!

The PR team have updated the media section of the website for the start of IBW; you’ll find plenty of materials prepared for journalists and broadcasters here

With IBW now only days away, we are really looking forward to seeing photos of as many of the IBW events around the country as we can!  Please send them to or and we will make sure they collated for press cuttings and for trade press coverage.  Also make sure to send photos to your local media, newspapers.  Good luck, and keep us posted!

There is a new bulletin from Carlton Books offering booksellers extra discount on two interactive titles, which work with webcams to create visual effects from the books – see the bulletin below or click here IBW 2010 Bulletin – Carlton Books

We are almost ready to announce the winners of our Overheard in a Bookshop competitions.  We’ve had some great entries, and have also picked up some crackers on Twitter!  We’ll post the winners asap.

We now have a great IBW Book Quiz for you to download and use as part of your IBW activities.  It’s five rounds, plus a picture round.  The quiz has been kindly given to us by Chiswick Book Festival, so many thanks to them.  It’s taxing in places, but fun too!  The quiz is in the form of a powerpoint presentation, and the answers appear at the end of each round, so beware moving the slides on too quickly!  There is also a picture round, in two parts, with the answers on a separate sheet.  The idea is that you would play the picture round during the course of the evening.  Let us know how you get on and if anyone gets all the answers right!   Send in photos of any quizzes that take place!  Good luck!

IBW 2010 Quiz Round 1

IBW 2010 Quiz Round 2

IBW 2010 Quiz Round 3

IBW 2010 Quiz Round 4

IBW 2010 Quiz Round 5

IBW 2010 Quiz Picture Round Answers