Monday, March 24, 2008

Once upon a time...

See the March Carnival of Independent Bookselling roundup at Omnibus.

Once upon a time there was a girl (she was an adult, true, but she still wasn't used to calling herself a "woman") who wanted to come home. She thought it would be easy to find another job, so she packed up her apartment into a trailer (which her father drove across the country, something he'll never do again) and came back to Connecticut.

The quest for a job proved more difficult than the girl had expected, particularly because she didn't know precisely what she was looking for. ("Anything but software testing" was accurate, but not much of a career path.)

After finishing a temp assignment that required her to face the occasional ogre and wring toner from an empty cartridge, the girl found something. It was admin work, and it was only part-time, but the office was ruled by a benevolent queen - and anything was better than another rejection.

The part-time job left the girl with a lot of free time, and when she wasn't battling her way through the enchanted forest of job listings, she started spending time at the bookstore where her mother worked. (It didn't hurt that the bookstore shared the parking lot with a pretty good coffee shop.)

While the girl hung around the bookstore, she often ended up pointing customers to the right section and cleaning up the shelves - she just couldn't help herself.

Before long, it was time for the bookstore's annual inventory, and a call went out for workers. The mother saw a way to put her daughter to work for a few more hours, and so the girl got to put her scanning skills to work. Even though the inventory went late into the night (and took up a good chunk of the next day), the girl enjoyed herself.

Not long after the inventory was completed, one of the booksellers left to become a servant in one of the biggest publishing palaces in the land (okay, an editorial assistant). The girl still wasn't having any success in her job search (she ran into more ogres, and some trolls too), so she decided to take the servant's place in the bookstore.

And so the seasons changed, and the girl worked her two part-time jobs, assisting the benevolent queen in the morning (and often at night) and selling books the rest of the time. She was tired of taking minutes and writing letters for other people to sign, but she loved the books (especially the ARCs).

But the girl continued her quest for a full-time job, because her health insurance was about to run out. One day she turned to the Bookselling This Week classifieds, where she applied for a job with the booksellers guild.

The guild hired someone else, but after a few weeks one of the guild masters called the girl to talk about a different position. Almost before she knew it, her quest was over: she had a real job.

The girl bid farewell to the benevolent queen, but she hesitated before leaving the bookstore behind. With her mother still working there, she was never going to get away from the place. (Conversation at the dinner table often turned to work.) "Besides," she thought, "I've forgotten how to have a social life. What would I do with all my Saturdays free?"

So the girl works for the guild now, encouraging bookstores throughout the land to band together for protection against the dragons. But if you happen to mention that you're looking for something to read, she won't be able to resist. Somewhere within she has the spirit of a bookseller.

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