Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome To My Store

By John Gilstrap

Hello, dear reader. Welcome to National Chain Bookstore, or, as we like to call it, NCB. Come on in and look around. Careful, don’t trip over the stacks of remaindered hardcovers there. Do you want one? They were all fairly successful a couple of years ago, and while they last, they’re cheaper than their paperback reprints.

No? Okay then how can I help you? A novel, eh? How about one of these titles here on the front table? Lots of good stuff there; in fact many of our customers never go any farther than that into the store. Must be why publisher pay us to display their books there.

No, no pressure. I’m anxious to put the perfect book for you into your hands. What kind of book were you looking for today? I see. Well, “fiction” is a big category. Do you like literary fiction or commercial fiction? Wow, I don’t really know how to answer that. You’re right, it is a subtle difference. I look at it this way: If you have to read it in school, or if the fact that you're carrying it is likely to impress people, chances are we categorize it as “literature” and we put those titles on the shelves that line the outer wall. No, the other wall. That wall’s for Photography books. Hey! You two boys! Put the book down and quit looking for dirty pictures in my store! Sorry about that.

Okay, good. Commercial fiction. Science fiction? Romance?

Great. A Mystery, then. Do you prefer cozies, hardboiled or softboiled? Whoa, another good question. Well, as I understand it, as the body count goes up, the book is boiled more. If the lead detective is a cat, it’s definitely a cozy. Everything else is a gray zone. Maybe you can tell me an author you like to read.

Uh-huh. Michael Connolly . . . John Grisham . . . Jeffery Deaver. Goodness gracious, you don’t want a mystery at all. You want a thriller. Well, sure there’s a mystery in most of their books, but a thriller has more suspense. What’s that? Of course. I agree that there’s suspense in Moby Dick and Oliver Twist, but people respect those books, so those are literature. Were you not paying attention before?

I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I was indeed flippant. I meant no harm. You just ask very good questions, and I’m not answering them very well. Of course. I understand. Tell you what. If I may be so bold, you can never go wrong with a Gilstrap book . . .


  1. Gee, John. I always thought this was such a complicated and confusing issue. You've made it sound so simple. :-) Happy Halloween!

  2. But John, you missed the biggest question a bookstore worker gets:

    "I heard about it recently, but I don't remember the title or the author. It had a blue cover, though. Oh, and by recently, I mean in the last five. . .no, maybe ten years. . .You know which book I mean?"

  3. Great post, John. You must have been eavesdropping at my local NCB!

    It's also where the most frequent question for visiting authors is, "Where are the restrooms?"