I know I’ve gently teased bookstore customer who come in and ask for a particular book by describing it. Often the description of a book is not all that helpful in finding it, especially if said book was last seen by the customer six months ago in a display.
But yesterday found me working alone, and very busy. A lovely customer wanted two books, both of which the computer said we had. They were hardcover picture books. So, already that limits where these should theoretically be found. As any bookseller knows, books, even picture books, can roam far and wide in a store, so they can still hard to find. Looking for a book when the store is full can be a vexing issue, if the book is nowhere to be found.
As I scoured the shelves for Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, I grew increasingly frustrated. It wasn’t until the very patient customer said, “It’s bright yellow,” that I was able to find it, shelved in with the F’s. Sometimes having a color to look for is actually helpful. Our inventory system gives a lot of information: type of book, hard or soft cover, what section it should be in, and what kind of book it is: history, fiction, etc. If there’s time, we’ll often go to our books in print database to get an image of what the book looks like. It’s enormously helpful to know not only the words of what you’re looking for, but the color of the spine as well.
So, the next time you come to a bookstore with sketchy title information, just know that knowing the color of the book sometimes is really helpful. Except when the yellow book is actually blue.