Friday, August 14, 2009

Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea Book Review

Shea is an author of several novels. A few years ago she had cancer and rather than sit around in her pajamas, responded to a friend who needed help in her bookstore. She went to work for a few hours twice a week. Shelf Life is her account of an ongoing love affair with working at a bookstore.

Having owned a bookstore myself for over 30 years, I loved this book. She reveals the excitement of opening up a new shipment of books - clean, unmarked and unread. There is the anticipation of a new title.

And then there are the quirky aspects to working in a bookstore. There is the person who wonders why there isn't a fourth book in a trilogy. A customer wants the book that's green and was over there last year when they were in and how come you don't know what it is? And one that always amazes me: the customer who asks the clerk to choose the best one of the three cards he has for his wife's birthday.

Unlike products in many other retail stores, books can be returned to the publisher. Shea talks about taking it personally when books she had ordered in did not sell and had to be pulled from the shelves and returned. I know exactly how she feels.

If you have wanted to know what it is like to run a bookstore, Shea's book is for you. Take it from one who knows.

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