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Jen Campbell grew up in the North East of England, and graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA in English Literature. She's a published poet and short story writer. She lives in North London where she works at Ripping Yarns bookshop.
We're not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We're talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I've-ever-been-to-bookshops. Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that's invented the world's first antiquarian book vending machine. And that's just the beginning. From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over two hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we've yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole). The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world. A good bookshop is not just about selling books from shelves, but reaching out into the world and making a difference. (David Almond). The Bookshop Book includes interviews and quotes from David Almond, Ian Rankin, Tracy Chevalier, Audrey Niffenegger, Jacqueline Wilson, Jeanette Winterson and many, many others.
Having mined her own memories and those of her colleagues, Jen Campbell opens her challenge for Weird things Customers say to fellow Booksellers worldwide. As a Bookseller of long standing, weird customer sayings and queries were like beacons in the desert, there was the thrill of the chase, could we really track down that book with a green cover by a woman that died and the wonderment of being asked for nasal sprays and spectacular temper tantrums to be marvelled at when we couldn’t identify a tune being hummed to us. A guilty pleasure then to read Jen Campbell’s collection of tales but guilty because without customers where would Bookshops be and indeed where would all these marvellous, eccentric, forgetful, mad, stupid, vain, silly and essential customers be without bookshops, The Internet won’t be listening, that’s for sure. Like for Like Reading Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, Jen Campbell Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, Anne Fadiman
April 2012 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Having been a bookseller, one of my weirdest moments was being asked for a pound of sausages. We tracked that down to the shop having been a butcher in a previous incarnation but really, looking round is a Bookshop likely to sell sausages? Another time a customer hummed a tune and got into a rage when I couldn’t identify it, pointing out that we were a book and not a music shop, his rage increased and a letter of complaint was duly sent to my Managing Director who dealt with him rather like the unfortunate youth who got caught peeing through our letter box. Something about bookshops seems to attract weirdness and it helps to alleviate a dull day for the long suffering bookseller. Reading through the collection put together by Jen Campbell makes me realise that a lot more weirdness could have come my way, some of it mind boggling bizarre. Think before you speak might be one way of addressing the problem but then half the fun would go out of life, nowt so weird as folk.... Normally in my Like for Like recommendations I list books in print but it just so happens that two of the best on weird books are out of print – never mind - plenty for sale on Amazon and for book lovers there is plenty to enjoy in these walks on the wilder shores of bibliography.Like for Like Reading:Scouts in Bondage & other Books from an Innocent Age, Michael Bell + various hardback 96 pages Aurum 23rd October 2006 9781845131968Bizarre Books, Russell Ash & Brian Lake + various paperback 196 pages Pavilion 17th September 1998 9780965887649