Trying to pimp books and swap yesterday at a book thingy was a little frustrating and a little awe inspiring, can you possibly imagine 150 people in the same room silently reading?
Running a book store in this day and age of online gorillas that have access to venture money/wall street money is need less to mention a little difficult, but still a lot of fun if you really love books (even if the love is a little more intense than the love of people) It involves keeping your eyes and ears open to what readers want, it involves spending a little time on social media – really. Happened to stumble upon this fb page that has been getting some attention.
They were organizing a read up at a place called The Humming Tree in Bangalore (They are a little more than a club by virtue of things they organize), we asked the people organizing if we could sell books as there would be readers there and an upward limit to the number of books people would bring to swap, they kindly agreed.
There was a little bit of a confusion as we had not clearly stated that we were selling books, people were walking in expecting a swap session only. We had to go around and ask each and every reader if they had borrowed books from the rack to return them as it would be impossible for us to maintain a record with the number of people borrowing books… (awkward, but required)
There was a 20 something dude who had borrowed this authoritative book:
He was a little persistent and really wanted to read the book, we said no it would be really hard to keep a record, he came back to the rack a little later and asked for the book again saying he would return the book (persistent, curious fucking minds we love) made the guy do a katti promise-a pinky promise which symbolizes that if the promise is broken words will never be exchanged (or in our case the boy would have to die – which did not happen, he returned the book at the end of the event smiling)
Swapping was a little enlightening, we could not swap new books so we had a bag full of pulp and classics for a one-for-one permanent swap – short and sweet with no requirement of staying in touch to swap back, we mentioned that if they wanted to trade we do trades. The six people who swapped were happy, sitting on the floor checking out seconds from a big bag of books.
People who were buying books and trading were mostly really possessive of their books (albeit with an inflated notional value of their copies from a booksellers perspective, some just bought books refusing to trade) We see this at the store regularly when we mention that we trade, some people refuse to let go of their books when they are done with them, fair enough we can relate.
There was a 20 minute reading time where people were just reading and it was a little awe inspiring watching so many people reading, really beautiful.
There a few customers trying to flog self-help books which we kind of look down upon. One guy really stood out, he was trying to pimp a copy of a crappy how to sell book to three different people that were browsing. He would start about the book and how selling is really important, one would think if the book had worked he would have gotten someone to swap it, right? Wrong.
There was an elderly gentleman who wanted to ask a question which was not pertinent to the event, who finally got up and asked his question anyway. He then came to the rack and was asking a few questions and finally asked which was the cheapest book on the rack… the whole gig was based on a frugal book buying page so it is understandable.
All in all the swap event was really cool, at this stage we hope you might understand why book swapping can be a little harder than spouse swapping. In our current world, seeing people just shutting the fuck up and reading is a rare and beautiful sight indeed.