A Conversation About…Books…or Something…?

Following is a near-verbatim retelling of a conversation I had with a clerk in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  I went in looking for the Nicole Krauss book that came out last year (which I am presently enjoying).  I asked a clerk for help, and she was very polite, very helpful, very pretty, and very possibly too young for me (but I didn’t ask).  I’m not sure exactly where this conversation was headed in her mind, but I do know that I bought the book, and I’m considering going back for another one.

[Derek enters bookshop, stage right.  He wanders around the Literature/Fiction section for a while.  A polite, helpful, pretty, possibly too young for him clerk approaches…]

Clerk: Are you finding everything alright?

Derek: Well, actually I am having trouble finding something I’m looking for.  Do you have a second?

Clerk: Sure.  What are you looking for?

Derek: The latest book by Nicole Krauss—Krauss with a K—it came out last year.  It’s called “Great House.”

Clerk: Let’s take a look here.  [Types in a search database.]

Derek: It might be in that horrible place between hardcover and paperback.

Clerk: Yeah, it looks like it might be…we don’t have it in the store.

Derek: That’s a shame.  When is it out in paperback?

Clerk: In September.

Derek: Oh, I was really hoping to start reading it sooner than that.  She writes beautiful books and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know her new one was out until recently.

Clerk: Yeah, I remember when we had it in the store.  She only has a few books, right?

Derek: Yeah, she takes YEARS between books.

Clerk: Those are usually my favorite authors.

Derek: Mine too.

Clerk: Maybe you could get the e-book version?

Derek: [Slightly disappointed, slightly irritated stare.]

Clerk: Not an option, huh?

Derek: I used to be a librarian.

Clerk: I understand.  I work in a bookstore.

Derek: Yes.  That’s how we met.

Clerk: [Laughs—perhaps a little harder than the joke merited?]  Tell you what, let me look at something here…  [Types in database.]  Yeah…I can get you the hardcover at a discount, since it’s out of print in hardcover now.

Derek: That would be great!

Clerk: Okay…do you have a membership card with us?

Derek: Yes, I do.

Clerk: Good…that will get you free shipping.  Is this still your address?  [Reads address.]

Derek: Yes, that’s right.

Clerk: Okay Mr. Brink, your book should arrive right to your front door within a week.  I’ll give you a printout of the order…  Actually, let me just ring this up for you.  [Rings up purchase.]

Derek: [Paying for purchase.] Thank you very much, I really appreciate your help.

Clerk: No problem at all.  I’ll see you next time.

Derek: I hope so!  [Exits, stage right.]