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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Beacon In The Mess

January brings the return of the "Rush" season at a campus bookstore - skids piled up with boxes and textbooks, huge groups of students beginning a new term and  looking for their required course materials.

As a campus bookseller, it means long days of doing our best to help students find the things they need, then ducking and covering as they see the retail price of the over-priced textbooks that we have no control over. (Except, perhaps, to bring in used books, which cause the publishers to shake their fists at us and then jack up the prices on their books to compensate for lost sales -- it's an endlessly frustrating cycel where nobody seems to win)

To top it off, I'm fighting off a nasty cold and cough that just won't go away. And there's no way I'm taking a sick day on these 12 hour plus days that are critical to a campus bookseller.

But there's the occasional glimmer of hope in these days, such as a student who is happy with the customer service they received, pleased that we took the time to explain things to them and helped them make an informed purchasing decision that saved them money or saved them time.

Or the customer who waded through the crowds the other day to browse through the general books fiction section to get a book to read for the sheer pleasure of it.

We somehow managed to connect for a a quick minute of talk, in which she pointed out a book she'd read and enjoyed.  A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse.

The book concerns the founding of a unique Paris bookstore called "The Good Novel" that will stock only masterpieces in fiction, selected by a secret committee of writers. The opening of the store is met with fantastic sales. Then it goes awry when attacks start to happen (people upset with the elitist attitude of the store) both in the blogosphere and in the real world and the novel evolves into a sort of mystery.

It looks like an interesting read, just the thing for a book-loving nerd like me.

So, amidst the chaos and frustration, a neat book recommendation rises up, offering me a beacon of light.

Got to love those little things that take just a matter of a few extended seconds, but add great value to your day.

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