I used to work in a secondhand bookshop and after a while I noticed that there were certain types of customers that you would see over and over again. Some where strange, some where pretty cool, and others were just plain disturbing, so I thought I would share them with you.
1. The Students
These customers always appear at the start of a new term or semester. They usually in their twenties or late teens and on the hunt for cheap textbooks or a certain piece of classical literature. You will rarely spot a student on their own, they usually travel in groups and ask if you have several copies of the same book. Students are pretty normal compared to some customers and after a while you gain the ability to be able to guess what course they are doing by how they are dressed.
2. The Porn Mummies
This is another type of customer that travels in packs. They are middle aged, well dressed women who are on the hunt for one thing: porn. They will come up to the counter and proudly ask if you have any copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and if they cant get their hands on that they will go straight to the erotic novel section. They will go through the entire dirty novel section with their friends before picking out at least five books each. This sort of customer was almost a daily occurrence in my shop and some of their choices of literature were downright scary.
3. The Child Reader
I love this customer and they give you some hope for the future. They are normally around 10 years old or younger and they are usually found sitting on the floor in the kids’ section. They will pull out nearly every book and flick through them before convincing whatever bored adult they have with them to buy them an armful of books. They make a mess but you don’t mind cleaning up after someone so young and enthusiastic about reading.
4. The Odd Ones
There is something about secondhand books that seems to attract the stranger people in this world, so much so that I was warned about this sort of customer on my first day. They can range from people making strange book requests to people doing downright odd things in the shop itself. We had a customer who left us a list of topics and a contact number so we could inform him when a book about one of the topics arrived in store. The list was: UFOs, conspiracy theories and daisies. One of those things is not like the others.
On another occasion we had a woman who spent ages lifting armfuls of books and placing them in front of me at the counter until I was left with an impossible mountain of books in front of me. When she was finished she screamed and ran out of the shop, leaving me very confused and with a pile of books to tidy up.
5. The Normal Ones
Whether they be an old people who keep telling you that you’re pretty, people looking for that one book in particular or those browsing because they have some time to kill, these are the ones who keep bookshops running, and as bookseller you are always happy to see them because they are a break from the messy children, the screaming ufo hunters and the middle aged women with graphic daydreams about handsome stable boys.