Put Your Hand on It First

Josie Leavitt -- June 3rd, 2013

We have a rule here at the Flying Pig: put your hand on the book before you tell someone we have it. Why we have this rule is quite simple. Inventory, while delightful, is not always accurate. This rule applies to people calling for books (especially for them) and for folks in the store.

Our store is not that large, but I think we all know that books can migrate. Just yesterday, I found Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City in the adult sports section. Whether this was a simple mistake or someone making a joke about serial killers, I’ll never know. But what I did know was, several of us looked high and low for the last copy of the book in the store for the customer who was starting to tap her toes while three people looked around the store for it.

Misshelved books are the bane of every bookstore. Sometimes, staffers mis-shelve books because it’s not clear just where that funky non-fiction book should actually go. And sometimes customers are being “helpful” and put the book back where they think it goes. Often they are right, but when they are wrong they can be spectacularly wrong. This makes finding books harder than it needs to be.

We all cheat and look up the book before we embark on the search. It’s surprising to me how many times I used to be looking for a particular book and thought it’s red, when in fact it’s got a blue spine. This one mistake can cause me to overlook the needed title because it doesn’t look right. But once I saw one of my staffers look up the cover of a book and thought: that’s genius. Now, it’s the only way I set about on a search.

So, while it might take a little bit longer for a definitive yes when someone calls for a book, customers can rest easy knowing that the book will be on the special order shelf when they come in for it.