Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Recommendation

Once in a while - interspersed with shelving and pricing, stock checking and reordering, title searches and tidying - a bookseller gets to perform one of his/her primary, and all too often neglected, functions: the Recommendation. Oh yes, the capital 'R' is most certainly warranted. In today's book market the range of titles is staggering and when you walk into a bookstore, particularly one as capacious as Chapters, the task of finding something to take home can be daunting for even the most determined bookworm.

To some greenhorns the hopeful, beaming visage of a customer in need can be a source of great apprehension. “What if they don't like the book I recommend”, one thinks. “What if they never come back, because I promised them a nerve shredding page turner and they fall asleep on page 24?” And so forth. For some of us, however, recommending a book can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. There is little to compare with knowing that you've gotten the right book for the right reader, and getting positive feedback always makes the day that little bit better.

Of course the internet has made it that much easier to find that book you heard about last week in the café, or read in the Guardian Review but forgot to take the clipping, but in a world of Amazon auto-suggestions and keystroke targeted online marketing there is no substitute for looking someone in the eye, asking the right questions and guiding them to the book that's been sitting on that shelf, quietly and patiently waiting for them to pick it up. So don't be shy, if you're ever in need of some inspiration, a new direction for your reading or even just someone to tell how awful that last book you read was, talk to us. It's what we're here for.


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