The emperor Charlemagne falls in love with Fastrada. The dudes that run his court (read bureaucrats and leaders of the emperors realm) are a little worried. The emperor is neglecting the state, as his love is his all. The chick dies, but the dudes love for the lady does not falter. He embalms her (eew) and leaves the body in his bed to lay by his side, while he does some sick shit with the body (double eew). The archbishop (asshole religious leader) is convinced of evil enchantment and orders his minions (probably his procurator) to investigate. Lo and behold the minion finds a ring under the tongue of the dead lady (note to self efficient minions need to be procured for any evil world domination plan – Hitler had Goebbels, or was it Himmler? I forget but it is irrelevant, really). The bishop hides his ring in a secret place (subject to interpenetration-that autocorret error was intentional ) and the emperor falls in love the archbishop (triple eew). The bishop is alarmed-was the emperor too old to be an alter boy? (bad pun intended) and throws the ring into a lake. The emperor falls in love with the lake, now this is really a happier ending (than an old dude who digs old men in frocks that don hats or a dead chicks), right?
What has this bloody weird tale with a fucking ring have to do with An Independent bookstore in Bangalore which just had its best day of sales ever?
The expected big ticket for the day was a customer from the day before, who had walked into the store late in the evening and said he wanted to buy a lot of books for a library on Tannery Road (densely populated area in Bangalore, mostly with the Muslim community). I ask the man what is the target age of the library customers and profile. He says 18+ up-to say like you and me (dunno how old the dude is but he had a respectable crazy beard and I have greys in mine). I select over a couple hundred books, some which we said he had to buy and some which he would have to decide on. We started talking about how people (I am making a big assumption over here but I think this conversation was not about people in general, but the Muslim community’s reading patterns which are lacking and needs correction, my assumption.) I mention that we tell our customers that if they want their kids to read, they need to lead by example, ideally you start reading to your baby before they are born (yes they have ears that work and a brain to process and register sound). They need to read to their 2 year olds, they need to read in front of their 4 year olds. Kids imitate their parents.
What do you think happens when you switch on your telly and watch the some friggin sports shit? (the IPL perhaps?) (they mimic your ideal of plebeian entertainment).
What do you thin will happen when you watch some shit on the your idiot box? (Say a prime time news debate) (Dear god, I am not even going to try and think about it)
He begins to say that the organizations philosophy is based on aldkfnwfgn (some fucking city in spain, at some fucking period of time where muslims played a great role in thought). I cut his spiel short saying I do not want to be lectured about centers of learning in convenient periods of time in history. Right now, your youth need to be encouraged to read and that alone is what we should be concerned with.
I inform the man that we had to close the store at nine (yes, even booksellers have lives)
Today was a was really good, way above average and then I meet big ticket library customer in the evening. Books are billed and a figure is arrived at and the man begins to bargain. I was really frank with the man about our standard discount policy and what we were offering to him and what we would actually make on the sale. The only reason his was getting this was because of the size of the purchace(about a hundered books). He softens and then asks for a round fugure (we Indians can be real bahn chods (sister-explicitive which ends in ers) I give him a round figure, not the round figure which he was asking for. He and gazes into my eyes, we stare at each other (OMG was this like one of those out-stare till you blink and I am entitled to my round figure games?) I tell the man no mater how much he looks at my eyeballs the figure sticks, he smiles and leaves to get cash (we do not accept cards, why the fuck should we pay money to a bank? fuck the bank, banks are evil and we hate’em. Our independent bank is still to get us our card machine and till that happens we accept cash, and cash only).
In the mean while another lady customer walks in and is interacting in the background and is obviously privy to the entire conversation asks for one fucking book that was 199 rupees. I point to our discount policy sign
She asks again, I repeat our policy and point to the sign again, she relents. She then asks if we would buy books on spirituality/religion. I freak out and tell her that WE DO NOT DO RELIGION IN THIS STORE, WHATEVER BOOKS ON THE SUBJECT THAT ARE IN THE STORE ARE MISTAKES AND WILL BE RECTIFIED IN SOON ENOUGH, we do buy non fiction and literature though (smile). She smiles and says she will return.
I reiterate to the man’s friend (who was haplessly stuck with a crazed bookseller) that if he were truly to look at the long term impact of the library he needs to target kids from the age of 4 and above not 18 and above. He is also missing out on women, I mention that 65-75 percent of our customers are women, women read more, they are able to absorb more than the short term attention span/memory oriented male. I hope he got the message and implements it, we think it is really important reading is accessible to all with out divisions whatever they may be.
The man returns, we count cash (oh fuck, it was a lot of cash) and looks at the packed books.
He asks if we will pay for auto money (FUCK) I ask the man where to? He mentions a place and a figure (about double of what it should have come to, at higher night rates). I look at the guy and ask him if he seriously wants the auto (three wheeled limousine in Bangalore) money, he smiles (fuck, sometimes when you take everything literally you miss out on humor, fuck humor).
I give the man a couple of recycled bookmarks and say that these are for him personally to use in any ole book which he should be carrying around, to be read whenever he has the time in-between say waiting for some work to be done and a clients call (the guy was obviously into the construction industry) and when he is ready to be in the second level of carrying two books (fuck some readers are really obsessive, dontcha need a back up in case you get bored?) you could perhaps give it to someone around you to read (found my self in this position with my dad today and I gave him my current backup book to read, which he kind of enjoyed)
So what the fuck does the tale at the beginning have to be with tonight’s post?
Well in case you did not get it, the real protagonist is the ring. The ring is the beloved and the end all in the story, the ring in our log is the book. The magical object, our beloved book is the visible glue that influences the connection between us (booksellers) and our customers.
And yes Goobe’s Book Republic, an Independent bookstore in Bangalore has just had its best day of sales, ever. Yet…