Bookstores mean a lot to many people – this we know. It’s a comforting place to come when there’s been an upsetting event, be it a life issue or a worldly one. When bad things happen, folks come here for physical and emotional comfort.
“I like to just smell the books” is something we hear almost every day. What it is about the smell of new books that comforts people so? Is the memory of reading as a child and feeling better? Or being read to, nestled next to a parent who made you feel safe? It’s hard to know. One thing I do know is often people come to the bookstore for us.
I know this might sound odd, but booksellers can be comforting to customers.We know our customers and we know when someone’s having a horrible day because they’ll often tell us. There are many customers here who come to the store when they’re cranky because they know we can help straighten out their mood by listening and laughing with them. I like that often I’m forewarned of an ill-humor the minute someone grumpy walks in. This warning gives me the chance to assess how I think I can best help. Working in a bookstore, or any retail for that matter, means anyone can have access to you. And when someone comes in looking for a shift in mood, I’m all too happy to try and help.
Nothing is more fun than seeing someone come in who is sad, cranky or grumpy and then later getting a note or call of thanks for changing a bad mood around. And all the while the smell of books slowly, subtly worked its magic as well.