Something that has happened often enough at Tavistock Books to admit (as long as my boss does not read this blog) is the dropping of books. My first week Vic left me alone with the store (let’s not even talk about how I neglected to charge a guy spending $600 sales tax or that I accidentally tripped over a globe and bled on the carpet) and while he was out at a Giants game, enjoying the sunshine and the hot dogs, I was pretending I knew how to do leather dressing on a book. I was startled by a customer (you know… human interaction frightens me), and the book slipped out of my hand, slammed to the ground, and both boards snapped off the spine and lay in a messy heap at my feet.
So, logically, the next thing I did was to call my father immediately (meanwhile the book is still on the ground, in case you were wondering) and cry a bit and tell him that I was going to get fired. After about 10 minutes of whining to a parent who was, at that point, probably more than a bit concerned about my overall mental health and what the California air was doing to my brain, I acted my age and called my boss. With only minor cracking in my voice I told him I had dropped a book and broke it. Vic, of course, couldn’t be less concerned and simply said, “okay so… we’ll get it fixed?” I did neglect to mention on the phone that it was a $1000 book, but oh well! I didn’t get fired (clearly).
The point of this blog is to inform other young booksellers the proper etiquette when dropping a book, this especially for all the assistants out there. Once a book is dropped, the first thing you should do is look around to see if anyone saw and/or heard the book being dropped. If the answer is no, breathe a sigh of relief and then pick it up quickly. While casually looking like you’re inspecting the state of the mylar dust jacket cover or the age-toning of the endpapers, inspect the book for any bumping or creasing you may have caused that you could not definitively say was there before. If any disfigurements are found, the first thing you should do is put it in a pile somewhere where human customers go, and leave it out for a day or two. Then, when your boss is sitting right in front of you, casually find it and exclaim over the horrifying tear or crease and start calling customers names in your anger at their casual manhandling of your precious books. The madder you get, the better. Your boss may think you have anger management problems, but so be it. He’ll never know the difference. You could take my route and hyperventilate instead, but it’s really not a good idea. Salt-water wrecks havoc on paper and if you cry on the book it will just make it worse.
(This is, of course, a joke, and I have always told my boss when I drop things.)
(I almost always tell my boss when I drop things.)
(Customers should really be more careful around Tavistock Books.)