Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bookstore observations

Mass market paperback editions of The DaVinci Code are recently available everywhere in French, but there is no scheduled date for such an English edition. Meanwhile, Umberto Eco's latest is marked down 30% in French, not so in English. What does this say about the difference between French and English consumer markets? (Note that first issues in French are usually a kind of trade paperback, and relatively expensive — as much as or more than an English hardcover.)

(Yes, I'm spending more time in bookstores these days than I ought. With all the other things needing doing, they're so conveniently on the way.)

I'm setting off alarms in stores. The culprit is finally identified as the book I've been lugging around for dentist chairs and metro rides. Of course, it's in the bookstores that security guards question me about the contents of my bag. One uniform turns the book over, checking the spine and corners. He thumbs through it, presumably looking for smudged fingerprints, coffee spills, chocolate smears, other signs of wear.

The thing is: I tend to take care of my books. While this one is not pristine, it isn't any worse off than many that are regularly handled and perused in the bookstore stacks. The only evidence in my favour is the tattered bookmark about halfway through. I brace myself for a pop quiz on the book's contents, but it does not come to pass. He hands the novel back to me, resignedly.

Surely they realize that people who carry books around with them are likely to frequent bookshops, that they who linger there might be the type to have reading material at the ready.

I wonder do they ever confiscate such books, do they have training to recognize that a book has had travels and experiences beyond the store, or are they specialized in reading people.

Do people steal books? What kind of people? Do security guards hand the goods over to the criminals and let them walk away?


rachel said...

Having worked in bookstores for years, there are usually 3 kinds of book thieves: 1) kids who are stealing for thrills, 2) people who are stealing something they're too embarrassed to buy (porn, etc.), and 3) people who are stealing something to re-sell (an expensive art book). Grown-up women who like to read are not likely thieves. Usually. Which means if you ever DID decide to steal books, you might get away with it.

That said, there's no excuse for your book setting the alarms off more than once -- they should have deactiviated the tag!

Kimberly said...

I try to stay away from bookstores unless I have lots of time, as I tend to get 'lost' in them. At the small, independent bookstore that I frequent most often, the staff all know me, and would not be concerned if a book in my bag set off their alarm. I find it hard to imagine stealing a book, but I don't fit into any of Rachel's categories, either.

This seems like the perfect post on which to tell you that I'm tagging you for a book meme. Are you willing play?