01/04/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Constable Robinson. 119 page small hardback. Price: GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78033-483-7.
check out websites: www.constablerobinson.com, www.edinburghbookshop.comand www.rippingyarns.co.uk
Although with all the review books I get these days, I have to resist the temptation of visiting bookshops in case I add ever more books to my collection that will be waiting a long time to be read, seeing a book titled ‘Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops’ would be a little hard to resist. Jen Campbell’s book also has a place here because there are comments made about books in our genre, as well as various practices that the uninformed consumer thinks goes on in bookshops. The main two here, the Edinburgh Bookshop (that’s in Scotland for you folks across the pond) and Ripping Yarns (an antiquarian bookshop in London that sells books not fish) present two-thirds of the material here. There is a scattering of others from both the UK and abroad. All of it is accompanied by cartoon art by the Brothers McLeod, even if it only appears to be one brother, to keep the tone of the off-set humour in place.
I read half the book in one sitting and was giggling throughout. About the only people who probably won’t see the humour are the people who said the things in the first place but then, I doubt if many of them are serious book readers. More so, when some of them don’t even like the smell of old books let alone their value or what indeed a book actually is. I might have rephrased the title to ‘Weird Customers Who Say Even More Stupid Things In Bookshops’.
With the unwashed public not knowing what a book actually is, let alone that it can be read, they assume it’s some mystical place where you can buy other things and the owners are seers knowing exactly what they want from the scantiest information. Hands up all those of you who know a book title simply by being told it’s got ‘and’ in the title or even the book number. No wonder these people aren’t interested in Science Fiction, they probably think it hasn’t been written yet. That’s not too crazy when you consider one customer wanted Philip Pullman’s ‘The Book Of Dust’ before it had even been published in an antiquarian bookshop.
From a sociological point of view, a lot of these customers are either very ignorant or stupid which must make us genre readers look positively sane in comparison. In the meantime, this book is a hilarious read and maybe we can have a sequel some time. One can only hope that publishers don’t get funny ideas from the titles of supposed books here or we might well see ‘Lioniel Richie And The Wardrobe’ on a shelf some day, not to mention a lot of dinosaur culinary delights. Then that really would make things crazy.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA