“Is She in a Coma, or Is She Dead?” – ShelfTalker blog – Elizabeth Bluemle
If you’ve ever worked in a bookstore — or, for that matter, shopped in one — you’ll know that booksellers do a fair amount of detective work. Every day, we track down books people have heard about on the radio or from friends, cobble together titles from fragments of customer memory, and plumb our own reading experiences to make matches with the keywords our patrons conjure.
It’s not exactly news, but something fun and quirky to read. I was thrilled to start working in a bookstore for this exact reason (heck, in came in handy when I worked at an architecture library!): to solve mysteries when someone could barely remember the book title or author.
A funny one happened a few days ago, actually. A lady came up to the counter and said she heard a book on NPR with “cheese…or something” in its title. “Something so outrageously weird that I thought I’d remember the whole thing, but I can’t! I just remember cheese!”
We have the ability to search for books talked about in the media, but only if it was discussed within the last two weeks. This lady told me it was recent. To our system, it wasn’t recent enough. I began to ask her other questions, such as “what was it about? What struck you, other than the title?” and put what she said as key terms. The book has absolutely nothing to do with cheese – it was actually a very serious novel – but the title did contain the word. We found it, which was a great eureka! moment, and also one of the most hilarious experiences I’ve ever had.
Do you have any stories, as a bookseller or customer, that is similar to this?