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05 November 2006

Q's Bookshelf and LF's Burnout Running the Bookstore

Copy of a Bookstore-Related Email
(names changed to protect true identities)

----- Original Message -----
From: Cy Butterfield
To: EP
Sent: Sunday, November 05, 2006 10:24 AM
Subject: Q's Bookshelf and LF's Burnout

Dear Colleague and Fellow Bookstore Worker EP,

I'm writing to say you were right, EP, about how Q's making his improvements in the bookstore would eventually run up against LF's distrust and dislike of those who take initiative in "HER" bookstore space. He made and moved in a two-tiered double-sided, 4 to 5-foot shelf unit made to measure for the popular fiction English paperback display table. I saw him waiting with it outside on the sidewalk while LF talked to a customer. I, naturally, praised his work and the improvement it would make to display. (Q is so shy. I realized he hadn't yet told LF he had completed the job. Maybe he is catching onto her "ambivalence" to any improvement that makes her bookstore more than a jumble of books piled in front of and over other stacks and shelving ! In any case . . . )

Later in the day, I dropped by to see that guy CC in high spirits about having hung a fluorescent tube above the shop's front window and after moving back the wooden sign so it would 'catch' the light and be more visible to passing traffic. But at the moment I arrived, LF was glum and so was Q. Q was full of apologies for having 'messed up'. LF was down, down, down. She muttered all her complaints . . but in body language communicated that the situation was a disaster. The 'guys' in placing the shelving and arranging the pocketbooks had totally messed up the (and I can hardly believe I heard this) 'order' she had worked to bring to that pile !!

(CC disappointed me. He even told me how, if he had done the shelving, he would have made the unit taller -- so that it would hold all the books that constituted the, in my estimation, way overstocked mass of pulp and remainders. But I won't go in it in depth here.)

When I cracked a few remarks and quips to the effect that it was far better with the shelves than before and that (I should have shouted) 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'. I did pooh-pooh LF's complaints as pleasantly as possible and praised Q for the OBVIOUS improvement in accessibility for customers. LF was livid.

LF is exhausted. She looked ten years older yesterday. I asked if she needed me to sub for her in the bookstore. There was really no getting through to her . . she was just dealing with ONE MORE CRISIS as if it was CAUSED BY Q.

As I said at the top, you were right. But I still find the drama and the set-piece acting out of it hard to believe.

I have started a working on a website where used books can be described and a virtual library constructed, maybe even evolving into an E-commerce outlet. Gavin, a local webmaster offered to do this with me after getting the cold shoulder from LF about the idea.

You know I am critical of LF's way of dealing with all of us in the store and the other volunteers like Q and CC (even Gavin who I didn't know had offered his unpaid services) all of whom are trying to help LF improve the business. But hope lasts eternal. No matter how bad LF's public relations become, she should be able to improve on her ex-lover-bookstore-partner's style of running the bookshop tyrannically and in constant bad moods and his odd way of communicating on Internet sites with eccentric book descriptions that explained nothing more than his own substance abuse.

I think the way I intend to link to the specific Internet addresses where BOOKSTORE NAME sells books should improve their sales whether or not my webpage goes commercial per se. I'm learning as I go and beginning to tap into sites where there are bloggers and web surfers (as well as listserv discussion participants) already discussing the whole world of used bookstores and online sales. I will need to attract such people (as well as customers) to any eventual website. In the interim, I've got an idea of how to tap into the exchange of ideas online.

To explore all these ideas and generate discussion, I have started my own personal blog that includes a "COMMENTS" feature for each entry posted. The name of the blog is Cheap Priceless Editions. So feel free, EP, to not only read this new blog at , but please make your own comments on the posts. Also, let others know about the address by sending out the link to your email contact list. I know it's not much yet (I only started yesterday) but it could start to become interesting.

We will see one another soon I am certain, Cy Butterfield


Anonymous said...


Great minds think alike.


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