A Reminder of Why I Sell Books

Josie Leavitt -- August 17th, 2010

I admit that there are days when I am run down by my job — days when nothing goes right and customers yell at me for things that are out of my control. Then there are days like yesterday.

I opened my email and found the loveliest note from one of my favorite summer customers. With her permission, I am reprinting it below. This email will bolster me on the tough days and remind me always why I do what I do. And it points up the fact that the books have a long life after they leave the store.

“Josie….I don’t know if this is still your address, but I hope so. I was listening to something on NPR yesterday, an interview with two bookstore owners about what to read this summer. One mentioned the incredible power bookstore owners had, curating the titles they carry and subtly shaping what their customers read.

Faith was on the screened-in porch, having devoured “Chains” in two days, turning the next book in her pile you had put together in about three minutes. I thought, where would my children be without having had you in their lives? What a lucky, lucky day for us, that first day so many years ago that I walked into your store. Thank you so much. You have been a certain kind of mother to my children and I am grateful.
love love love
Rebecca”
Now, if a letter like this doesn’t make it all worthwhile, then I don’t know what does. The beauty of an independent bookstore is that the love is mutual, as I feel just as privileged to be part of her children’s lives, too.

6 thoughts on “A Reminder of Why I Sell Books

  1. arundhati

    What a moving story, this makes my day beautiful!! Thanks both to the mother who wrote the mail, and thoughtful work behind the selection of the books in the store… Cheers!!

  2. Therese Holland

    A little bit of appreciation goes a long way
    I recently hunted done a book for an elderly customer who had been looking for it for 20 years. He was so thrilled to get it I was asked for a hug when I handed it over. A bit awkward for a non-touchie feelie like me but I managed.

    That is the second time I have had a customer so delighted to get a book they were after for a long time that a hug was on the menu.
    Those are good moments.

  3. Carole Marsh

    I nominate Karen Duncan of Omega Books in Peachtree City, Georgia for my Hero Bookseller. She is a great connect-the-dotter of all things books for our family. I do not need to remember what husband Bob has read—she knows, or will like next—she knows. Same for me and I’m very picky and peculiar in what I read, since as a writer, I have so little time to read! When “times got hard,” Karen did not think about herself, she figured out what would help her customers, so now we have lovely, inexpensive collectible books to choose from, great discount quality used books, and many other things. A local bookseller is a piece of cake and a work of art. Recently we took her to lunch just to say “Thanks!” So that’s my message—hug, thank, write (or all three!) your favorite bookseller TODAY!

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