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Bookstore Bingo: oddest customer queries

Posted by Christopher Shea  July 14, 2010 10:23 AM

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A game called Bookstore Bingo recently flared to life on Twitter: Purveyors of books recounted the oddest questions that they'd been asked by customers. Many of the examples focused on the ignorance of book buyers, which could be amusing but also had a slightly mean undercurrent: "I'm looking for a book but I only know the title, not the author. It's called Dante's Inferno"; or "Who wrote Jane Austen?" Hey, they're better off asking than not, right?

Better were the genuinely off-the-wall queries: "Do you have books on monkeys, monkeys doing things like people?" (The site Shelf Awareness collected the best entries in the game; I'm drawing on its summary here.) Or bizarre theories proferred without prompting. One bookseller was reliably informed that the U.S. government insisted that Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" be classified as a novel, rather than nonfiction, in order to assist the Vatican in a cover-up.

Clearly, anyone who sells books must cultivate the ability to divine a title a customer is thinking of from the slightest of clues. Wrote one bookseller: "Customer asked for 'The Onion in the Closet'; wanted 'Indian in the Cupboard.'"

IndianCupboard_cover.jpg

Boasted another: "I like to think my ability to track down books from customer-provided cover colors is legendary."

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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