A woman with long grey hair, angular features and wearing a long red coat came up to the Information Desk. "There's a book that was in one of your emails and I want it. I think it was a memoir and I think it was about Zimbabwe, but Zimbabwe wasn't in the title. What is the book? I want it."
Another bookseller and I both tried to help. "A memoir? And something about Zimbabwe? We can try and search..." Both of us did searches on the computer and didn't come up with anything.
"Don't you know what is in your emails?", she asked.
"Well, I read them," I said, "but I don't remember all the books mentioned in every email." (Just as I do not know every title and every author of every book in the store.)
She seemed peeved. "Well this book was in one of the emails you sent out. You should know what's in them."
"Do you remember any word in the title? Or the author's name?", the other bookseller asked.
"No I don't. But it looked really interesting and I want to see it. It was in one of your emails. Surely you can find out what was in the email."
"Well," I said. "We can find out what our current promotions or coupons are that went out in an email, but we don't have access to the emails that only have book recommendations or suggestions in them." The customer looked frustrated. All this time both of us are still searching on the computer, using key words and category searches but no title or author searches because she doesn't know them.
"Well never mind," she said, giving up. "I guess I'll have to go back and get more information."
Dr. Johnson called the store the other day...
"I need a copy of T.J. Parker's THE JAGUAR. Do you have it?"
"We do, we should have one copy. It was released in January and we have one left. I'll put it on hold for you," I said.
"Yes, do that," he said. "How did I miss that release date? It's been out since January?" I can almost see him shaking his head. "Well, what else have you got there that I haven't read yet? You know what I like, only hardcover, first edition."
I do have a pretty good idea of what he likes to read, though I do not know what he has or has not read yet. Quite often when I suggest something, his response is a brusque, "already read it." But not always. I look over the new (hardcover) in mystery display, reading out titles and authors to him that I think he might read.
"Robert Crais?", I say, "He has a new one."
"Yep, already read it. What else you got?"
I list over a dozen other authors and titles. Dr. Johnson mostly responds with, "already got it" or "yep, just finished it."
But sometimes he doesn't.
"Here is a new author you might not be familiar with...Daniel Palmer. His new book is HELPLESS. You might like it. His first one was DELIRIOUS which I read and enjoyed. He's a new author for you, but he writes the kind of books you like."
Gruffly, "Okay, put it on the pile."
By the end of the phone call, I have eight hardcover books waiting for him to look at.
I didn't see him come in, but K., who waited on him, said, "He bought all but two of them." And one of them was the new author I'd suggested! I'm starting to like the curmudgeonly old doctor.
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