From the Booksellers Point of View

Booksellers have always had a holier than thou kind of mentality. They think they are somehow better then the public at large and in the chain of retail employees, they always think of themselves as grade A and top notch. Booksellers think everyone wants to be them and that they are an elite group of people. They always look down on others in the food industry as below standard.

How do I know this? How can I speak with such authority?

I was a bookseller for ten years. I was also a damn good one at that. I could shelve a full cart in under thirty minutes. I made thousands of people buy a card for ten bucks that they probably only used once or twice. I knew my stock without needing to “look in the computer”. I did think I was better then the rest of the world.

For that, I am ashamed.

So, when I heard that the booksellers were going all ape shit because the café workers were making more money then the booksellers because the café workers had a tip cup, I knew what the argument was and where it was coming from.

Let’s face it, how many of you tip the bookseller at the customer service center? It does say this section is for customer service and isn’t it only fair and proper to tip someone who has performed a service for you?

But we don’t tip them, do we? Let’s take it to the next step, should we tip them? The bookseller does look up the information, take you to the section, put the book in your hand and along the way may engage in some idle chatter about the book you are looking forward to buying and maybe reading.

Did they not just help you? Yet, it never crosses your mind to give them a tip. However, in the café, after you have ordered your drink, you look to tip them with your change.

Do we not tip booksellers because our wallets aren’t out? Is that the standard for tipping? If your wallet is out, tip…if not…skip.

I won’t make the argument the booksellers job is harder or easier then a person in the café. I think both jobs are equally important and equally difficult. Have you ever dealt with a person going through caffeine withdraw? Have you ever heard the plethora of insults hurdled at a bookstore employee because a book isn’t in the store or is out of print?

This is one of my all time favorite stories I will share with you.

It was late in the afternoon and this male customer walks in. He is in a rush and I am thinking he is probably here to buy “Hustler” or one of those kinds of magazines. But, no, apparently he ordered a book on tape and wanted to know if it was in yet. I wasn’t real familiar with the customer orders, so I did have to look it up in the computer. I was able to tell him that it did come in, we called, and it was picked up.

“No it wasn’t.”

“Sir, according to the computer, you were called and the tape has been picked up already. I don’t have another copy of it. Are you sure someone didn’t come in and get it for you?”

“Are you even listening to me? I said I don’t have the tape. I am here asking you if it came in so obviously I didn’t get the message that someone left.”

“Well, I am really sorry but I can only go by what the computer says and sadly, your tape isn’t here.”

“What the hell is wrong with you? Do you have a metal plate in your head? I said I was never called and I need that tape. Can’t you just get it from the back room?”

“Sir, as I have stated the previous times, the tape was ordered, a person with your name and phone number was called, it was picked up. Due to the fact that it was a special order, it is something that isn’t carried in the store.”

“You are retard.”

And the man walks out of the store.

Oh and this is just one story. I have ten years worth of them and they are all just as awesome.

So, I can totally see why a bookseller would get irate if the café workers were making all the tips and hence making more money. But, they could have applied to the café as well. They didn’t have to be on the sales floor. They picked that job.

We can argue what ifs until the cows come home (however, I don’t think they are coming home for a long time…something about a new diary farm…I don’t know), but here are the facts.

People in the café are providing a food service. We, the paying customer, should be allowed to openly tip them instead of awkwardly asking where the tip cup wandered off to today. While the booksellers do perform a service as well, it is not one in which we normally tip.

The bookstore should be a team effort. No one’s job is more or less important then the next. Should we really be squabbling over a tip cup? I would think that maybe you should stop discussing your breaks, what time you leave the store, and your personal life in front of customers. Now maybe that should be a topic to discuss at a store meeting and not the fact that some guy in the café made an extra four dollars a week then you.

Or maybe the bookstores should be unionized…then I think B and N would have a heart attack.

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