I try to never write a "negative" blog entry. That said, this store is begging for it. The story: A very nice man who lives in my neighborhood drove out to Short Pump's Barnes & Noble in search of my novel, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. He had his two daughters with him. According to my neighbor, when he asked where he might find the book, he was told, "We don't have any in stock, and we've sent them all back."
He said, "She's a local author."
Apparently, this bookseller could care less because rather than saying, "I didn't know that. I can certainly order the book for you," the bookseller acted condescendingly toward my neighbor and said, "If the book doesn't sell, we don't stock it."
This same day, my neighbor conveyed this exchange to me at our local pool. I was also informed that the bookseller yelled at his daughter simply because she was riding on the escalator!
I telephoned the Barnes & Noble at Short Pump Town Center that same night and asked to speak with a manager. I relayed this story. She told me, "We do have a copy of your book in stock." Why is it that the bookseller was unaware of this fact? My neighbor had driven twenty miles out of his way.
The manager also told me that they don't always know which authors are local. So I guess they don't read the local newspaper or get lists of local authors from the major publishers. She then informed me that the only way I could be assured that my book was in stock was to arrange a book signing at their store. I said, "Sign me up." She said, "Our events planner is at lunch." I said, "Well, she can call me tonight or tomorrow to arrange something. I gave the manager my phone number. Do you think the Events coordinator from Short Pump Town Center called me?
Of course not!
I like Barnes & Noble just fine. I like all booksellers, especially local Indie sellers like Chop Suey in Carytown and Fountain Books in Shockoe Bottom. In fact, Chop Suey and Fountain have signed copies of my novel in stock right now.
That said, I have NO use for Barnes & Noble at Short Pump Town Center. As I understand it, the first thing that a bookseller should say when a customer requests a book not in stock is, "We can order it for you."
I don't typically burn bridges, but I'm burning this one with this particular store. With the way the book market is today, there's no excuse for booksellers to be rude or condescending with customers or authors.