Saturday, March 12, 2011

How NOT to Shop in an Independent Bookstore

This week I'm reprinting a blog post from my favorite bookseller, Joe Neri. Joe (Bookseller/Bluesman) and his wife Kris (Bookseller/Mystery Paranormal Author) operate The Well Red Coyote Bookstore in Sedona, Arizona. 
How NOT to Shop 
in an Independent Bookstore
by Joe Neri 
You would think that browsing a bookstore is pretty easy. Walk in the door, find the books that interest you, and browse. You might be surprised, however, at what Kris and I encounter when we open the doors for business each day.

Based on our real experiences, here are some suggestions for how NOT to shop at an independent bookstore:

1. Don’t tell us how much you’re going to miss Borders.

2. Don’t tell us that you just got a Kindle for your birthday.

3. Don’t only look for books by James Patterson and Danielle Steele. Believe it or not there are literally thousands of good authors, encompassing all genres, who actually write the books with their names on the covers.

4. Don’t ask for paper and pen to write down the titles and authors of wonderful books you discovered by browsing in our bookstore, with the intention of buying them online. Especially don’t use our high quality (i.e., expensive) business cards and/or bookmarks to do so.

5. If you must do #4 above, please don’t steal our pens.

6. Don’t use your cell phone’s internet connection to check online availability and pricing for books you find here.

7. In fact, don’t use your cell phone at all while browsing in our bookstore. Your need to be “connected” at all times doesn’t quite fit in with the ambiance we’re going for (why do people think they have to shout into cell phones?)

8. Don’t ask us to research a book, of which you don’t know the full title or the proper spelling of the author’s name, taking up half of our counter space with your notes on scraps of paper, and preventing other customers from getting service, if you don’t intend to buy the book from us.

9. Ditto for phone requests. If you can’t find it yourself on Amazon, don’t ask us to help you.

10. Don’t pretend to browse when all you really want is to use our restroom. Just ask – we won’t refuse your request to answer nature’s call. Just don’t take any of our books in there with you (the “George Castanza” syndrome).

11. Don’t take books from our shelves and randomly scatter them around the bookstore. Unlike the large chain stores, our talent is our knowledge of books, not our need to pick up after you.

12. Don’t hide your empty Starbucks containers or banana peels on our shelves or under our chairs or tables. If you have trash to dispose of, just ask us where to put it.

Of course, the above represents an extremely small fraction of our daily experiences. Most are with the wonderful book readers and book lovers that make owning an independent bookstore worthwhile and satisfying.

But, someday I’m going to write a book. Retail – gotta love it! 

Thanks, Joe.

Now if you authors want more advice from a bookseller 
read Kris Neri's posts
She's not shy (either) telling authors how to work with booksellers.

Joe Neri combines years of business experience with his lifetime love of books (along with the added touch of his blues band/songwriting creativity) as co-proprietor of The Well Red Coyote. Originally from New Jersey, Joe is an escapee from the asylum known as Southern California. He has been in love with the Southwest for most of his life and is now living his dream in Sedona. Joe's a proud founder of the Sedona Book festival. His band is Blues Dawg.
Find more of Joe's blogs
Kris Neri is the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award-nominated author of the Tracy Eaton mystery series, REVENGE OF THE GYPSY QUEEN, DEM BONES' REVENGE, and REVENGE FOR OLD TIMES' SAKE. Also recently published is her new urban fantasy, HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE. Her other books include a standalone suspense novel, NEVER SAY DIE, the short story collection, THE ROSE IN THE SNOW. If there's anything Kris loves as much as writing, it's reading, and sharing her love of books with others. Now that she's realized her dream of living in Arizona, she enjoys meeting her new neighbors and sharing her love of books and writing with the customers of The Well Red Coyote.
Shop their virtual store   
for Sedona books 
and the latest Kris Neri hits.


  1. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
    Liz Arnold

  2. Excellent! I'm so sorry to hear you have to put up with things like this from readers! I hope you are in business for many years to come.

  3. Love it! People can be incredibly rude. On the flip side, so can some business owners. I hate when a store refuses to let customers use their rest room and try to blame it on their insurance comapny. Trust me, if I'm going to fake a fall so I can sue your store, I can just as easily fake it on the salesfloor. And I'm a much happier shopper with looser purse strings when I'm not thinking about my bladder!

  4. I think everyone on earth should have to work retail before they're allowed to leave their parents' home. The experience makes one so much more sensitive to store personnel, wait staff, etc.

    If, as I hope, I ever get to Sedona, I will definitely check in this bookstore and buy. As my saying goes, "By and by, I hope to buy and buy."

  5. I began working in my parents' store when I was 12. I remember my mother saying it would teach me never to be rude to someone behind a retain counter. She was right.

  6. I work at a B&N and a lot of this hits pretty close to home - though I must say, I take a little bit of offense at #11. ;)