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13 December 2006

Bookstore Flounders: Holiday Book-Buyers Give Us a Cold Shoulder

If you are looking for a web link to this post, stop. Most of the background to the story & this post are there in Cy's profile or are archived on this site already.

Early on, Blogaulaire decided that dissing 'the Management' was becoming too personal, so I deleted the nasty posts. All the readers I consulted before trashing these rants agreed in principle. But then they bugged off from Cheap Priceless Editions for their daily gossip, because the juicy part was what attracted some of my friends in the first place.

Well feast today while the bookstore languishes in famine.

My own personal involvement as a part-time worker at 'Sandra's Books' is unsustainable now. This is due to a fundamental problem - money. Each of us who work in the bookstore alone from 1 pm to 6 pm on weekdays and even the owner, who also puts in two 1 pm to 6 pm shifts (Saturdays and Sundays) plus two later shifts from 6 pm to 9 pm (on Thursdays and Fridays) lately have toughed out these zero-sales days. Obviously it is disheartening. The frequency of days open with no sales seems to be growing as the holidays approach.

Some of the owner's friends have helped out gratis (these are my friends as well, and I should include my own 11-year-old daughter here). Several of us have tried to straighten up in all the aisles and within all the nooks and crannies of the various subject sections. Over the past several months shelving has been built, duplicate copies stored away, displays rearranged - but to no purpose. Sandra undoes our efforts, claims she has her system (implying strongly that she is on top of things which is patently untrue and evident to everyone who enters her bookstore - they say this without mincing words).

With the constant in-flow of more boxes full of donations, boxes of 'everything imaginable printed on pulp & paper', and the owner's obvious fixation on hoarding it all, whatever order any of us have tried to make out of the mess has been buried under the accumulated rubble.

Well, maybe it's not THAT bad. But wherever and whenever anyone other than the owner makes headway at arranging the surplus of books piled on the floor in one corner of the bookstore, we are made to feel that we have just 'stabbed her in the back' by messing up her efforts at 'properly arranging the books'. This is not an exaggeration. If this is not a formula for discouragement . . well the disappearance of even the regular clientele who should now be getting into the holiday buying spree spirit (wish, wish) . . that certainly is discouragement.

Quite recently there have been other developments of a more private and personal character. Not between the owner and any one of us who work for chump change or who volunteer our time. I won't go into it. Only to say that it is all starting to look so thoroughly neurotic in scope and depth that a couple of us 'in the know' are throwing up our arms, fingers and feet in disgust. We will merely 'float away' with all our limbs engaged in mid-air like that vis a vis Sandra. She is the one who will land smack on her ass. That is our prediction (and I DO write here for more than myself).

Sandra is the first person who will tell you that if there is something wrong with the bookstore, blame somebody else. Does she also believe that if there is something good about the bookstore she is the only person who deserves credit? If she does think like that, it is a perfect formula for what is happening. Her community is deserting the store. The passengers onboard are jumping ship. In extremis, as the situation appears to be at this crisis juncture financially, none of us have the leisure to debate whether the ship hit the iceberg or whether the iceberg rammed the ship. Most of us think that the collision occured in broad daytlight and that if the captain cannot tell what happened, the least the captain can do is lash herself to the mast and leave us one more place to save someone more innocent of complete disaster.

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