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to think that bookshop staff may have read ...

(25 Posts)
claricebeansmum Fri 02-Oct-09 15:20:55

something from the Booker shortlist.

Picked up The Little Stranger and just wondered how scary it would be. Three members of staff behind the counter - none had read any of the Booker shortlist. shockangry

Obviously this is Waterstone's and not a proper bookshop. wink

Firawla Fri 02-Oct-09 15:51:58

yabu a little bit

Scorpette Fri 02-Oct-09 16:57:02

'Hypothetically', let's say that that particular chain of bookshops - which are a very litigious company, so am not going to write the name again - have had new management and across the country have been getting rid of all the old staff, who are all book-lovers and very knowledgeable, and were employed for their interest in books and instead, have been getting in general, non-bookworm staff and giving them crap rotas and minimum wage, as well as now only ordering 'popular' books, to minimise costs (I know this cos used to work there years ago and have friends still there who've been treated like shit). Hypothetically, mind. Hypothetically.

On the other hand, it's a bit unreasonable to expect bookshop staff to know about every book, so YABU. Do you expect supermarket staff to have tasted every single food item in the store?!

For what it's worth, The Little Stranger is not at all scary and I found it quite disappointing, though well-written.

BitOfFun Fri 02-Oct-09 16:59:09

<<Applauds Scorpette>> (shh, independent here, or I was- I would have read at least some of them wink)

DuelingFanjo Fri 02-Oct-09 17:43:41

Waterstone's is a proper bookshop. Someone actually forwarded me a link to this thread knowing I worked for Waterstone's for several years.


The wages when I were there were crap but we were encouraged to read and review the books we sold. Obviously we couldn't read them all. I left as Waterstone's started to go down the pan.

You're just being snobby IMO.

KembleTwins Fri 02-Oct-09 17:46:29

YABU. As a teenager, I worked in a fabric and haberdashery shop. People would ask me all sorts and I never knew the answers - always had to get a full-time member of staff instead.

I can cut metres of material really straight though.

differentWitch Fri 02-Oct-09 17:48:04

yabu. There are too many books in the world to hope that eveyrone will have read all of them. To be honest, I usually find that if a book has been shortlisted for a Prize, it bores me rigid.

squeaver Fri 02-Oct-09 17:51:30

In the Last Great Recession (when I graduated, children) nearly everyone ended up working at Waterstone's.

You had to have a degree to work there back then.

claricebeansmum Fri 02-Oct-09 17:57:19

I don't expect the staff to have read every book in the shop. That would be unreasonable but I would have thought that at least on of the three behind the counter might have a view on a Booker shortlisted novel. It is a much publicized prize which they are promoting in their store.

When I shopped for books at my independent where I used to live she always could give a bit of guidance.

PixiNanny Fri 02-Oct-09 18:17:39

YABU, Many of those working in waterstones are students, would you rather they failed their exams to read a book so that they can tell you about it?

Scorpette Fri 02-Oct-09 18:46:33

You defo want to go to an independent book shop (or a Waterstone about 6 years ago and beyond) to come across people who really know about the books they're selling. When I worked there, we would read all the latest things and we'd get customers who'd come in and say things like, 'I've seen this book, it's got a blue cover, think it was written by a man - what is it?' or 'it's about a woman whose husband cheats on her' and we could usually work out what they wanted. But that's because the pay-off for crap wages and dealing with fucktards all day was our passion for books; however, there's no law that says minimum wage shopworkers actually have to know a lot about what they're selling - they just don't get paid enough!

There's also the fact that sometimes you can't be arsed to natter on to someone and you just say you don't know anything to avoid a conversation. Niceness-fatigue is inevitable when dealing with the public!

funtimewincies Fri 02-Oct-09 18:57:31

YABU. Read it yourself, surely, and decide how 'scary' hmm it is .

If you don't want to pay for a book you might not like and want to keep, borrow it from the library.

If you find that it's not to your taste, then you can just return it to the library.

Problem solved. What the staff choose to read or not read is not for you to dictate.

DuelingFanjo Fri 02-Oct-09 18:58:35

ha ha. Scorpette that is exactly my experience of working in a bookshop.

I miss it for lots of reasons but know it's not the same. Which branch did you work at?

BitOfFun Fri 02-Oct-09 21:27:23

Oh I used to love playing Guess The Book with customers- "It was in the paper at the weekend, something about a sailor", etc etc.

<happy sigh>

I loved that job!

Cadelaide Fri 02-Oct-09 21:34:42

Hey, BitOfFun, I was an independent bookseller too, a rare breed now.

One of my funniest incidents was answering the 'phone; "blahblah bookshop, can I help you?" to be told "No thanks, I'm just browsing".

And then it just went quiet till I put the 'phone down grin

Cadelaide Fri 02-Oct-09 21:35:50

Books are lovely things to sell.

I sell crappy things now, but I do make a living. grin

Cadelaide Fri 02-Oct-09 21:36:51

Oh, and OP, YANBU but you have been a tad over-optimistic.

beaniesinthebucketagain Fri 02-Oct-09 21:37:18

yanbu, waterstones have taken over our ottakers (sp) there are a few staff in there who must have read everything, one particular man can choose a book for me and ds and NEVER gets it wrong, its a lovely service, id be sad that no-one read anything from the booker shortlist.

LauraIngallsWilder Fri 02-Oct-09 21:38:13

Scorpette - that is fascinating to read about W. Twas about 6years ago that I last went in one and I have to say my lasting impression is of staff who loved books so Im sad that that is no longer the case

Having been to another well known bookshop chain yesterday (famed for its enormous shops, you know the one, beginnings with B) I cant help but wonder how it compares with W

Claricebean - Im with you I think its great if the staff in a shop (any shop) know about the products they sell
But I agree too that if you want to know what a book is like, you are best off reading it yourself

MortBlackCatResident Fri 02-Oct-09 21:42:06

I went into our supposedly excellent independent bookshop and asked for the Edgar Allen Poe Compendium.....The lass behind the counter had never heard of him shock.

BiteOfFun Fri 02-Oct-09 21:42:14

Hehehe, I was more likely to cock up myself on the phone...I was once asked by someone if we had any self-help books on agoraphobia- I started to list them, and then said "Honestly there's loads- just come in and have a look!" blush

My boss was a droll type, who got asked for a copy of Tale Of Two Cities as a Christmas present, found it, then the customer said "Can you wrap it?"....he cleared his throat, said he'd do is best, and started chanting with rhythm "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."


I loved it.

MrsJohnDeere Fri 02-Oct-09 21:46:55

I used to manage a large branch of one their bookstores. Things may have changed in the last few years (I really doubt it) but when I was there the rates of pay offered to booksellers were so pitiful (little more than minimim wage) and the conditions truly awful that we struggled to recruit people who could read, let alone actually want to read books.

DuelingFanjo Fri 02-Oct-09 22:56:46

Which branch grin

I was at Cardiff, Earls Court and Hampstead.

claricebeansmum Sat 03-Oct-09 14:12:24

There are no independent bookshops in my city..sad and the library is closed...

MrsMellowdrummer Sat 03-Oct-09 19:19:18

Very sad. I did notice today a that a branch of B's had a big Booker shortlist display up, which I thought was fab. The staff there always seem to know what they're talking about - and there's even a lovely chap there who recognises my son, welcomes him by name, and then has big chats about sci-fi books with him. A really lovely shop, despite being a big chain, all due to their fabby staff.

The Little Stranger is more disturbing than scary I reckon. Beautifully told, but I don't think it's likely to win the Booker this year. My money's on the AS Byatt.

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