Because booksellers usually DO know everything

I saw this post today, about the guessing game that book sellers have to play with confused customers.

The place I go when I have guessing game questions is Duthie Books. In the past, they’ve successfully (and quickly) answered such questions as:

“There’s this local author, and he’s got this uncle who was killed, he was a priest, and it was in, like, some South American country or something, and the author goes there…?”

And before I’ve finished blathering, the woman has placed this in my hands:

There was also, “I wanted to get a Christmas present and I saw this book in the paper but I don’t remember what it was called. It was about the Middle East and it was by this guy who knew tons about it, and it was a really big book…?”


But last week, in I trotted, supremely confident in my ability to buy any book, whether or not I remembered the title. I accosted the person behind the desk and said, “You know the author of the 100 Mile Diet? He has this new book, and it’s with three other people, and they go to places where there are humanitarian crises, like Burma…. Do you have that?”

He leaned back in his chair, shook his head, and said, “Never heard of it.”


I surreptitiously checked my surroundings. Yup, it was the right store. So I said, “Can you check? Like, on the computer?”

“You don’t know the title,” yawned Mr. chair-slouching, Gen-X-defining, obviously-hired-as-a-result-of-a-labour-shortage clerk.

After a short pause while I tromped over to find the 100 Mile Diet and retrieved the name of J.B. MacKinnon, Mr. X discovered that the book I was looking for… wasn’t published yet. But I think it is now, and I’m going back to get it!

And just to restore my faith in the staff at Duthie’s, I plan to forget the authors’ names and the title immediately after finishing this post, and find it solely by my powers of description and their powers of understanding.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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