“We can buy it online for $15”: Or, Did the Old Couple Deserve it?

Here’s the scene. An old couple walks into the store and asks for the new Sarah Palin book. I calmly walk around the counter to the table where it’s displayed. The husband asks, “Is this the seven dollar price?”, I respond, “No, it’s $28.99.” He counters, “That’s for the shipping?”, I fire back, “No, it’s the publisher’s price.” He turns to his wife, who quietly (but not too quietly) tells him, “We can buy it for $15 dollars online.” He turns back to me and tells me “We can buy it online.” I want to say, “But if you bought it here, you would be supporting a local, independent business”, but I just say “Oookay.” Then he says, completely unnecessarily, “It’s cheaper”. Instead of saying, “Right, because online retailers devalue books so much that it creates assholes like you, who come into independents and act completely class-less and rude”, I say “Right,” and turn back to my computer. They look around for a while and then say, “We’ll see you next time.” To which I didn’t respond, “Yeah, because you really contributed to that.” 

So many things bother me about this conversation, but the first thought, the throbbing problem in my head is: do they deserve my anger? They are old, not 45, maybe 75 and maybe they don’t know better. Then again, maybe they do know better and don’t care. Whatever. I’m not concerened with motive here. I just didn’t feel like they deserved to be lectured on the importance of local economy, the many problems with shopping online,  and the egregious rudeness of telling an indie bookseller that they can buy it cheaper online. Perhaps it was because I thought it wouldn’t change their mind, they still wouldn’t buy the book and they probably would never return, having been yelled at. Maybe they’ll buy a book some other time. That’s the forgiving side of my thoughts.

The other side is full of red rage and anger. How dare they come in here and tell me that it’s cheaper online, as though I’m not aware of it. And to tell me they’ll see me next time, well they may not. Because they would rather buy their crappy Palin book online, they are taking away money from their local economy and if more people gain that attitude, you won’t see me next time, because we’ll be out of business.

Momentary tangent: How is it that people who “go green” by not using plastic bags or bringing reusable ones think they are changing the planet through their own individual actions do not apply the same logical process to where they spend their money? It is the perspective that one’s individual choices and actions can greatly impact a social, environmental, whatever-al change. But they don’t apply it to local economies, why?

All this bothers me, puts me in an irascible mood and I become more prone to be critical towards other customer’s comments and actions. Not good for the friendly bookseller persona.* A facet of my profession I’m not cultivating very well anyway. Grr.

*I promise that the next blog post will be a review. I have done a lot of ranting lately, and I’m tired of it. However, I have recently finished a couple of books that I want to review here, so they are in the works. Mostly, I was responding to biblioklept’s insinuation that I don’t keep up my blog that much and  only had “recent(ish)” posts. Thus, I have blogged more and are now recent without the -ish. Also, thanks to biblioklept for the kind write-up and to The Hannibal Blog  for linking to my review of Wolf Hall, even if we did not agree.

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2 comments so far

  1. Phil on

    “…….Because they would rather buy their crappy Palin book online……..”

    That they would read the crappy Palin book, and make crappy comments in your store, goes together, doesn’t it?

    I feel sure that if they had been of the sort who would read “Wolf Hall”, the nature of their comments in your store would have been very different!!!

    • brilliantstella on

      I agree with you. On average, however, I do get more of the “Wolf Hall” opinions than the “Going Rogue” ones.


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