Years ago when I was queueing to pay for The Subtle Knife, the lady taking my money checked that I had already read Northern Lights. Useful, but unnecessary in my case. On the other hand, in the very same shop, I witnessed a customer asking what to buy for son/grandson after His Dark Materials, which the boy had loved, and they had no clue and stood there helplessly. That time I butted in with my opinion, but maybe that was wrong?
After all that’s happened, this seems an unlikely scenario, but when I read in the paper that the second Harry Potter book had been published, I went to a bookshop to buy the first, as I’d intended to do for so long. I couldn’t remember which title was which, so in order to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently carrying home the second book, I asked. They had no idea, and either not the inclination or the tools to look it up for me.
You simply can’t know when someone in a bookshop will know what you want to find out. I realise that the detailed knowledge about Ballet Shoes in the film You’ve Got Mail can happen, but it’s mostly a fond myth. Even the lovely Meg Ryan can’t have had that much information on all the books she sold.
Ah, I’m just a moaning old witch. I want people to be perfect. Shall I stop complaining about bookshops for a couple of days?