Sunday, September 11, 2011

How did the oldtime booksellers manage?

Google makes a bookstore workable, these days.

People give you just enough info to get online and find the correct book.

I've been wondering how the oldtimers used to do it. I suppose in some ways, personal knowledge would've given the advantage to a knowledgeable independent bookseller, versus a chain. I remember the bulky "Books In Print" volumes that a store would have had to constantly re-buy every year or so.

The following is not to make fun of a customer, but to illustrate why it can be so hard sometimes to find books.

A woman asks for the book "Geisha Girls," by Sara Lee.

I'm thinking that's not quite right, but I'm not sure, so I look it up on Google. I find nothing but entries about pastries and books with Geisha in the title. (Which only makes me hungry and horny, heh.)

Then she mentions the author also wrote "Secret Fan..."

This one I didn't need to Google. "Oh -- you mean, Lisa See! Snow Flower and the Secret Fan?"

Lisa See = Sara Lee.

Then I get distracted by another customer and don't get the chance to look up 'Lisa See' and 'Geisha Girls.'

After she left, I looked up Lisa See on Google and she also wrote a book called "Shanghai Girls."

I mean, this sounds like a parody, but it happens all too often. People conflate words and names and titles and so on...

Google can usually iron out the differences, given enough clues.

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