Over the last 6 (fun) years of being a book seller one tends to notice patterns, yes some of these are generalizations. We would like to see them as observations that seem to have recurring patterns. Chinese and Korean customers walk in (some smile when we greet them-most do not) They then proceed to do a quick circle around the store, like a power walk and then scoot without so much as a grunt. Japanese customers smile when greeted with a semi-bow (perhaps a little less elegant than the ones they give to superiors in Japan (are we lesser beings?) They then proceed to ask if we have any books in Japanese which invariably we do not have (need to stock up on Hentai just for the LULZ)
Customers who rush into the store seeking that one book though are another kind of animal completely.
They usually walk in with a sense of purpose or confusion, head over to the desk and start with the title of the book and then repeat the title by the time they get to the desk.
To the casual reader one ask the question, is that not why book stores exist, to have books that people want?
Yes of course!
Ever contemplate on the maximum capacity of the book racks in a store? Yes, there is a limit. Then think about the selection that goes into a store. Usually limited by the store keeper (or Nielsen list following spreadsheet monkey purchasing officer of a bigger chain stores)
In our case besides the above two limitations we suffer from a third, we buy books from customers. Which means we are influenced by the taste of the seller (customer) as well. We do use our discretion while buying books and most certainly do not buy whatever comes our way, we’ll let you in on a little secret, we buy what we would like to read, nothing more.
Which brings our store to quite a peculiar predicament, semi organized CHAOS, yes truly that is an accurate description of our selection.
Now to the customer who walks in asking for that one fucking book.
It is really cool to have a thirst or an insatiable desire to read a particular book to learn about a subject, whet your appetite for a particular author, be a part of popular culture (read what everyone else is talking about) and so on. The only case where we find this acceptable is if it is a book recommended by a beaux or someone you are trying to woo. Yes, besides that, one just does not walk into a book store with a limited desire and hope for your luck to land you that one book that you want. If you want a bestseller your odds are better if you walk into a dying chain store or an online behemoth (which does not actually stock shit)
Walk into a second hand book store possibly with a desire, keep an open mind when other books are suggested, book stores do not normally have reus monkeys as staff. We do read, like a-lot. We could be actually helping you without having that one book to satisfy that one desire.
Sometimes, we have customers walking in and asking for a suggestion. In most cases we try and ask the customer to name a book or author that they have enjoyed recently. We let that sink into our psyche and then suggest. Sometimes the customer says no, just suggest something, the most recent happy ending that comes to mind is an American immigrant to Bangalore who was on her way back home for a holiday, we suggested 5 books without any references to the customers taste. One was a winner and the lady said that we were spot on with our suggestions (HAH, beat that bozos created algorithm) The lady went on to say that she usually does this when she walks into second hand bookstores and is usually not disappointed.
In conclusion o-iwant-this-one-book-and-one-book-only-customer, fall for serendipity, there are a tonne of books waiting to jump at you, smack your head silly and make you want more. Just be a little more open minded and in case the book we suggest does not tickle your pickle – we buy back our books at half price, beat that!