Sometimes I feel like the bookselling day is just one long version of Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This is a book I’m sure you’re familiar with, but just in case you have recently arrived in the United States from a country that hasn’t yet translated it, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie follows a little mouse’s long list of requests, each following from the previous one, after receiving a cookie. He asks for a glass of milk, then wants to see his milk mustache in a mirror, then needs some scissors to give his fur a trim, and so on. Just one thing after another, leaving a trail of partially-finished tasks and a bit of a mess behind. This is EXACTLY what running a bookstore is like. And so … I present:
If You Give a Bookseller a Cookie (with apologies to Laura Numeroff)
If you give a bookseller a cookie, she will think of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and go to the picture book section to check stock on all of the Numeroff/Bond titles.
Once there, she will encounter a flurry of books scattered on the floor by a family of toddlers, and stop to reshelve them.
Putting something back in the Caldecott section, she will notice that she is almost out of McCloskeys, and that the Wiesners and Van Allsburgs and Bangs really need to be re-ordered, as well.
Heading back to the computer to add the books to purchase orders, she will be stopped by a customer looking for a copy of a history book by a local author, and will check six areas of the store — History, Vermont, Staff Picks, New & Notable, overstock, and the special order bookcase — for the single title the database says she has, before suddenly remembering it is in a window display.
After ringing up the sale, she will need to fill the gap left in the window display, and will scan the History, Vermont, Staff Picks, New & Notable, and overstock shelves to find just the right pick.
In the overstock room, she will encounter a box of games that arrived damaged and is awaiting a UPS pickup call tag from the vendor. The box has been there for two weeks, so she will head to the phone to call the vendor to check on the status of the call tag.
On the phone, she will be placed on hold to scratchy, loud music. While waiting, she will put the Caldecott books on publisher orders.
Putting titles on pub orders will remind her of a stack of packing slips that require calls to vendors to retrieve shipping costs and invoice totals so she can finish receiving those orders and shelving the items.
The packing lists will remind her that she needs to box up and send three copies of a book to a California customer, who ordered titles for a nearby New York State author to autograph.
Finding the shipping label folder empty, she will go to computer station 2 where the label file lives, fill the printer with label paper, and print out 25 sheets. Filling out the label for the California customer reminds her that her favorite California author has a new book going on sale next week, which reminds her that there’s a stack of books on the back counter that she’s been waiting to shelve until today’s on-sale date.
Shelving the new titles while holding the phone to her ear (still on hold), she will be approached by leaf peepers (fall colors tourists) looking for the cafe next door. The building has a wraparound porch, and it’s not a large building, so she’s privately not sure how they got lost, but she cheerfully directs them next door.
In thanks, the tourists will bring her a cookie….
And that, my friends, is the first fifteen minutes of pretty much any work day at a bookstore!