Adventures in the book trade

As his friends make their way home from a Friday or Saturday night out, Son gets on his bike (not in the political sense, I think) at 3.40 a.m. and cycles the six miles to work. His part time job at the weekend is selling books for the big bookshop chain at our local airport.

They open at 4.30 in the morning. By then Son will have gone through security like everyone else, which can include taking his shoes off to be X-rayed. And no drinks, just as for passengers. Drinks have to be bought at airport prices.

If the air conditioning in the shop worked it wouldn’t be so hot, but it doesn’t. One of the passengers passing through (who only happened to be an airport director) was so enraged by this that he took advantage of his position (apparently not allowed) to threaten Son. Good work, as it’s clearly Son’s fault that it’s hot, and all sixth formers are quite capable of repairing air conditioning systems. Especially when alone on duty with a queue of shoppers.

Company policy appears to be that staff mustn’t recommend books. They favour not displaying the books in the best way. (Son sold more books than ever, the morning he arrived to find water damaged books from a dripping ceiling, and simply piled them on the floor as a first measure.) And whenever the till doesn’t cope with plastic card chips, staff are supposed to not sell the customers their books.

It’s an interesting and different concept, isn’t it? (Almost like the Swedish state owned off license shops that have a duty to dissuade customers from buying their goods. The idea really appeals to me…)

Anyway, Son sometimes sabotages these rules by giving advice, even occasionally recommending a book (you didn’t read that here!) or displaying books in such a way that they catch the customer’s eye.

I believe customers in so called travel shops are particularly good ones, as they buy more than those in the high street. Perhaps the extra revenue could cover a new, working, till and even pay for an air conditioning engineer? And if there’s any money left over, consider free drinks for staff.

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4 responses to “Adventures in the book trade

  1. As a student I worked for a very large chain of (among other things) booksellers who, despite the fact that I was working in Stratford and ‘Hamlet’ was on in the Main House, would only let me order two copies of the play at once (and orders then took two weeks to come through) because that was all a shop of our size was allowed! I just sent people down the road to the local independent.

  2. Life just gets more and more surreal.
    Love the idea of child who gets on his bike and goes to work, though. I keep trying to tell anyone who listens that the big taboos among teenagers these days are not sex, death, and depression, but work!! Might have to offer to adopt him….

  3. We can share him.

  4. Pingback: Unbranded | Bookwitch

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