been caught cheating, at the bookstore

So yesterday it was absolutely dumping here, and I was at last breathing and full of energy — had to get out of the house for smiling.  I made my way across town to the bookstore because I have on the way several books I had selected as gifts, and I was anxious to know whether they were true finds.  I mean, they say all that blathery stuff in the reviews but who really knows, right?  I needed to see for myself and get out and just wander the stacks with my own kind, trailing rainbows and thanks be to God I am alive and breathing again and there are books worth reading in the world.  All that stuff.

So I get to the bookstore and gather up many of the titles I have on the way and more besides, and because it’s a rainy day in this downtown by the sea and all of the benches were taken already by certain foul weather literati steaming of whiskey stench and urine and grumpiness, I decided I’d hunch over a stool tucked away in the kid section and flip through my books.  Oh, they were gooooood.  I was so excited for my friends who will get to read them.  But I realized there were no books yet for me to buy so I left them in a tidy foot-high pile by the stool and proceeded to work through littlest love’s wish list.  And this is where I made my first mistake.  When I could only find one of the titles she wanted, I approached the clerk, who has helped me so many times before I should know her by more than her silver curly hair and deft kid lit aplomb.  She walked me around a dozen books and discussed why they should have won this Newberry Medal or that but did not and just after thanking her for confusing me even more, she looked down at that pile I had left earlier and said with just the slightest tinge of indignation, Should I put these back for you?  As if she was not only surprised I was leaving such treasure behind but that I was in some way the entitled sort used to having the help clean up after me.

I withered under her scrutiny.  Cringed with shame.  And that was when I committed my next and most fatal mistake.  Oh, yes.  Sorry, I stammered earnestly.  I was just checking these out — I’ve already ordered them and just wanted to know if they were going to be good.  You would have thought I had just confessed to murder the way she scooped up the pile of books and then turned slowly on her heel and looked straight into me, her voice all raised eyebrows and hands on hips.  You’ve ordered them?  You mean, online?  Oh, those awful words so dripping in judgment, well I just shrank and, well, I lied!  I lied!  I didn’t know what else to do.  Oh, well not from Amazon or anything like that.  I order books online from Indie Bound.   A.  BIG.  FAT.  LIE.  So guilty.  So hypocritical, because she had caught me cheating!  Those books on the way?  Whelp, I ordered them using a free trial membership to Amazon Prime that I signed up for so I could watch four years worth of The Good Wife the two weeks I was stuck in bed with the flu.  Not only am I practically a lawyer now, but my cheaper books will arrive in TWO DAYS!  So guilty!

But she didn’t stop there.  You mean, her eyes narrowing, you’re going to read them on a digital reader?  She was really piling on the condemnation.  Oh, no, no, NO!  Paper.  Of course, paper.  I can’t read electronic books.  And just like that it was as if she could see me suddenly standing back in the light of truth, no longer philandering but trailing rainbows and smiles such that she nearly hugged me and was back to being my friend.  Like we had just bonded over several hours in a jammed elevator, having told each other our deepest regrets and clung desperately to one another breathing the last bits of air and choking back sobs through prayers when suddenly the doors open and hope rushes back in.  Oh, me too, she said relieved.  I tried to use a Kindle to read THE GOLDFINCH and just couldn’t get into it on the reader.  Such a great book, have you read it?  I don’t know how people do it electronically.  Oh me either, I said.  Then her phone rang, and I stepped away feeling only slightly redeemed.  I knew I would have to fork over thirty bucks for the Donna Tartt, now — a book I have no time to read what with everything else in the pipeline.  A book I know at least two of my friends have already and that I could easily borrow, or dare I say, order for half the price from my cheap and expeditious lover, who won’t be around for much longer.  But where’s the good in that?  Take heart dear reader that my indiscretions stopped there.  I scooped up all 784 pages, grabbed two more books for each little love and walked out of there with a foot-high pile and my soul intact.  Penance paid for cheating on the independent booksellers I love so much.

Don’t stray to The Dark Side! Well, if you have to cram four years worth of Good Wife episodes into two weeks, you have my blessing. But hurry up and then let go of that free trial before it’s too late!

Shop Indie Bookstores

You might be interested in George Packer’s Cheap Words: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books? via The New Yorker

[dot_recommends]    Email This Post


  1. I am a bookstore slut, I suppose. I have Amazon Prime, and I LOVE the fast, free shipping. LOVE it! (And right now, we’re using it to watch “Veronica Mars.”)And I also love to stop by our the little indie bookstore in our town and buy the occasional book. I can’t say that I love the store–too many prayer flags, too much incense, and too much New Age stuff–but they have a couple of great shelves that always alert me to something new. I also love to browse and buy at the Barnes and Noble in the next town over. And when I can go to the Tattered Cover in Denver, I am beside myself.

    I love finding new stores (I’m envious of all of the stores you visit), especially independent stores in cool Colorado towns, but I also love Amazon Prime. But I know better than to speak that love aloud! 😉

    • I am honest to a fault and I just can not lie. If I do, I am terrible to the point of ridiculousness, which is why I think this clerk pursued me with such pin my wings to the specimen board scrutiny! I was so struck by this lady’s inquisition, and so GUILT-ridden for cheating on her, that I made up the whole Indie Bound story. OMG! But I do think I could get book slutty over that amazon prime, too, though. It has been very nice! I’ve used it twice to buy big batches of books, but then I can’t wait for them to come and get anxious and need to go to the store to check them out before they arrive. If there is a next time, which I doubt, I will keep my head down and my mouth shut. Thanks!

      • I love wandering through bookstores and have to slap my own hands to keep from picking up everything that looks interesting to me. Right now i am reading on my nook have a book I am reading while the nook recharges and listening to a books on tape in the car. Who say we older people can’t keep up.

        • And when you can’t hold the book in your hands or see the words anymore, I will be there to read those saucy romance novels to you, mom! (or maybe play them on audio ((super loud because you can’t hear anymore)) and make your tea) XO

Leave a Reply to rebecca Cancel reply