Reading All Over

On the bottom of the column on the left hand side of the page is a map of the world (a ClustrMap) and it shows me where people are reading my blog and you all can see it as well.

I think it is really cool that people all over the world are reading my blog, not only all over the US but in Canada and way up in Alaska, all over Europe including Portugal, England, France (hi Sarah) and in Japan and a bunch in Australia! I even get excited when a dot pops up in an area where one has not previously been!

So since I think it is so cool I just figured I would say hello to all of you all over the world and please feel free to say hello to me as well in the comments section!

On Global Warming

Just a quick note, I now officially throw my support behind the candidate that SUPPORTS global warming, because quite honestly three snow storms in a seven day period and way below normal temperatures are not enjoyable. I think that global warming sounds like a great idea, at least in New England.

On Not Judging A Book By Its Cover

In the book business it is easy to forget the old adage our mothers told us, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." After all if people didn't judge books by there covers then Chip Kidd wouldn't have a job. (Chip Kidd is one of the most famous book cover designers and graphic artists in the book business). In the bookstore business we put out books that catch peoples attention, not only by the content but also by the cover. A bad cover can mean that a book doesn't get prominently displayed, if a book does poorly in hardcover, be sure that the cover will be reinvented in the paperback edition. I can tell you that in the bookstore business we are even a little bit stuck up when it comes to covers, because we always- ALWAYS hate the MTI (movie tie in) cover, it is always cheesy looking I promise you.

Now this little rant brings me to the point of this post, the second book post in a row which is very odd for me. I just finished (yes in one day) reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a book written by and about the 53 year old editor of french Elle, who suffers a stroke and is stuck in a locked in state. He is not in a coma and is aware of his surroundings but he is completely paralyzed, his only mode of communication with the outside world is done by blinking his left eye. And while in this state he wrote a book! This is an uplifting story about a man who refused to die, even though his body was essentially dead.. It is a very short book but it is well written and moving.

Now how does these two connect? When I picked up the book out of the biography section at my store, the only edition we had available was the MTI cover, it looked cheesy! As a matter of fact there is a young girl on the cover who I later learned really has no role in the book. I almost immediately put the book down and moved on to L's next suggestion. I am not sure what pushed me to give the book a second chance, but I flipped it over and read the back cover and I decided that it could make the first cut. The book seemed like it could be interesting, but how could a good book have such a crappy cover, then again Atonement is really good, and it has an awful MTI cover now. The book finally made it through all the cuts based on the story and not on the cover, and after finishing Kavalier and Clay I was looking for a short piece of non-fiction to read this week, and it was the one I picked up. I have to say I was a bit embarrassed reading it on the train (cheesy cover again) but I am glad that I read it. It definitely was an interesting and uplifting book.

See, mom was right, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover... however, if I were to ever put this book out on a table, it would be with the regular cover not the MTI one!

So Worth It

I finally finished the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay... yes it took me a little over a month to finish it, but it is 650 pages long. It is one of those books that people either love or they hate, and I loved it. There was so much more than the comics in this book.

This is possibly one of the most intriguing books I have ever read, who would have thought a book involving comic books would be so interesting! (I guess L, who recommended it to me knew though) Joe Kavalier is a fascinating character, who is not able to see all that he has, and Sam Clay longs for the time when he can be accepted for who he is. The reader follows the ups and downs in their lives not knowing what to expect thanks to Chabon's vivid imagination. I was entranced with his writing and words, and enthralled with his clever imagination. There are many touching and poignant scenes and phrases that I feel I can see when I close my eyes. All in all, one of my most satisfying reads. It ranks up there with my long term favorite Shadow of the Wind, mainly because the characters are so real, and after 650 pages you are still wanting more!

It was definitely worth the time I put in, and a great way to spend a snowy Boston day (after I shoveled out my car)!

Snow = Death to Sales

Ten years ago if you got a one day snow storm and everybody around you closed, it was OK because people still had to go to the stores and shop at some point. Now, when it snows and people get sent home from work and can't go shopping you will not recover those sales. Why? Well, because of the Internet. All of these people that still need to do their Christmas shopping will have the chance to shop online without the silly interruption of the workday. All they need to do is pop onto a website, pick out gifts for their loved ones, enter some credit card information and bam... Christmas shopping is complete!

Needless to say, I am slightly panicked~ it is obviously the Christmas season, and everything around me is closing at 2:00pm, it is snowing heavily and while we have some customers now, I am going to lose about half of my sales for the day, and I have no ability to regain these sales. I am pretty much screwed, up shits creek without a paddle and all of that.

I hate snow, a little flurry during the Holiday season puts shoppers in the mood, it reminds customers that Christmas is around the corner, but a major snow storm is not what we need to drive people into the store.

Snow definitely does equal death to strong holiday sales! Damn!

When Worlds Collide

Yesterday I had to mail some additional Christmas Cards that I hadn't sent with my first batch. I was in a rush because I wanted to get them out so people would actually have them before the Holiday, plus I was on my short lunch break and I wanted to have time to eat.

I left the store at like 2:00 and was waiting in line at the Post Office by 2:05 and I only had to wait for about 10 minutes to get to the front of the line, get my stamps, and drop the cards in the mail. I was actually in a pretty good mood, something that is rare this time of year and I walked next door to the ABP. I was gently ladling my Tomato Bisque into a cup when I heard the whiny grating voice of the "Snapple Lady."

The "Snapple Lady" is a clearly disturbed woman, who shops at my store on a fairly regular basis. She is one of the few crazy customers that I simply can't tolerate. I generally duck and run for cover when she appears because she is just that annoying. She always buys approximately four Snapples and then needs to put them in her bag. But our counter is never big enough for her to place her multiple bags on the counter and maneuver the four bottles of Snapple in there. She always complains (once again in her whiny strained voice) that we need to build bigger counters because we are discriminating against women. Other whiny complaints also include needing wider aisles because we are discriminating against fat people and that our escalators move to fast.

But back to the worlds colliding... so when I hear "Snapple Lady's" voice I abruptly drop the ladle into the soup, splashing it all over the counter and try to plan my escape without her seeing me. Unfortunately, the sound of the dropping ladle has caught her attention and I am spotted, I decide to pretend not to notice her as she harasses the poor cashier. I finish getting my soup and bread bowl and gently walk towards the line. It appears that "Snapple Lady" can't find her card anywhere in one of her bags... this is apparently a new bag, and the counters at ABP are too small for her to find anything. She continues to whine and curse and sputter looking for her card for at least five minutes where I seem to go undetected. As I slowly sneak up to the cash register directly behind where she is throwing her fit she notices who I am and exclaims... "YOU ARE THAT GUY AT THAT STORE, YOU ARE BAD PEOPLE."

The cashier looks at me with that level of understanding that is only possible when you work with the public. She finally find her card, mutters more to herself and then finally leaves. I pay for my soup, put myself together and head out the door. On my way out I say to the poor cashier who had to handle "Snapple Lady."

"She is one of my favorites"

She replies, "Yeah, no kidding she is one in a million."

It is weird when your work life collides with your non-working life, but I guess it is part of the deal, and it does make me feel better knowing that I am not the only person that "Snapple Lady" drives crazy!

Not So Lucky Strike

I hate bad service, it makes me crazy when I get bad service, when I see people getting bad service or most of all when any of my employees deliver bad service. Therefore, when I was bowling on Thursday with H and a few other people from another store (as in 14 people total) and had to deal bitchy attendants and waitstaff I was not at all amused.

I actually told this story at my pre-opening meeting on Friday because it shows that when you deliver bad service it is very quick to spread and can negatively impact your business. As the old retail adage goes, an unhappy customer always tells 10 people about a negative experience, but they never tell people about a positive one. I would have never told my employees about a night out bowling if I had a good time and received good service.

Anyway, back to the story! On Thursday night I went out with H to go bowling at a place on Landsdowne called Lucky Strike (part of Jillians). We had been there a few times before and received decent service and had a good time. H and the other12 people got there a bit before me because I was closing my store and didn't get there until 7. Once I got there and found them they told me to go downstairs and add myself to lane 22. I went downstairs and waited in line to add myself and when I got to the front and mentioned this to the woman she grunted at me and told me that we all better hurry up because she had a party coming in at 8:30 and we needed to be done by then. I was kind of taken aback by her bluntness but figured maybe she was having a bad day, and she was very busy. As I was leaving I asked her where I could get my ever so stylish bowling shoes and she rolled her eyes and pointed upstairs. I got my shoes and went back and joined the party. It was my turn to bowl already since everybody was hurrying to get through the games (after all there was a party coming in at 8:30).

Things were going well, until it was time to order food from the ditsy waitress, who could not keep things straight and brought us more of some things and none of others. Then when we asked for our food tab we were all charged for items we did not receive. It took 20 minutes for all of us to settle up.

And while we were settling up the bitch from downstairs arrived. She wanted to tell us that we only had 20 minutes left until the other party arrived so we would need to hurry up or she would have to kick us off of the lane. I look up at her and tell her that we are well aware of this fact because she told us 6 times each, another woman chimed in and said, "plus we only have two frames remaining."

At 8:20, the lanes are turned off, we have not finished bowling because of all the drama with the tabs and we were told that we had until 8:30, I was quite upset because we have been respectful of this places wishes even though they have negatively impacted us and we have not been treated with respect. I go to take my shoes of and return them as I am not ever planning on returning to this establishment again, and another associate from the other store goes down to figure out what was going on. It appears that the woman felt we were going to take to long so she shut down the lanes. I didn't have the energy to go down there and argue with her and get our $140 bucks back (10 a piece) so I just decided to tell everybody I know that they shouldn't ever go to Lucky Strike!

By the way, I am an awful bowler I came in 13th out of 14.

Launch Codes??

After killing three of the same style phones in a six month period (I have no idea how) I got a new phone this week. Well, not exactly a phone, I got the new Verizon Wireless Blackberry Pearl. This means that in the palm of my hands I can access the Internet, check my emails, make a phone call, type in the address I am going to and get directions, send a text message, access instant messenger and a number of other things I have yet to figure out.

I love that my email pops up as soon as I receive it, I love that I was lost last night and all I had to do was pull over and type in the address and I got a map and turn by turn directions. I am constantly in touch, and it is not much bigger than my previous phone. I love technology and I think it is the greatest thing that I can do all of these cool things on my little device. My problem is that no matter how much I love technology, I am not very good when it comes to using it. Even the simplest things on my old phone can confuse me on my new phone (called S's wrong number the other night). And while I am getting better and learning how to use all of the features I am afraid that while I am learning I will accidentally type in the nuclear launch codes and start WWIII... if this happens I am very sorry!

It's That Time Again

Every six months we get an extra discount on books at my store. Usually once during the summer and once during the Holiday season. This year because Hanukkah falls early, the extra discount is slightly earlier. As usual, I bought a bunch of books for myself, because I need to treat myself to books for Christmas because nobody in their right mind would buy me them.

As usual I consulted Lisa on the books that I should purchase, and with a little of my own input I purchased 13 books for $100.40 (I saved 82.19)! I got some fiction and some non-fiction, some classics and some new stuff, of course some travel writing and biographies, and even a title that is technically teen fiction but has won tons of awards and is supposed to be excellent. So here is the list of some of the books I bought...

Book Thief (teen fiction one)
Death in the Andes
Unbearable Lightness of Being
If You Liked School You'll Love Work
White Noise

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky
Into the Wild
Looming Tower
A Year in the Merde
Notes from a Small Island
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

I know I went a little heavy on the non-fiction this time when I usually try to keep it even, but there were so many books that I wanted to read that I had to hold off somewhere. If I allowed myself unlimited books I would have been poor (er) and very sad.

Ah, and an update on my progress in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay... I am 400 pages in and I am enjoying it, it has been slow going with the Holiday and stuff but I only have 223 pages left and I am definitely going to finish it. I will even have a sense of accomplishment when it is done. And just in case you were wondering, I am really enjoying it.