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Many booksellers received an e-mail recently from a Public Relations company on behalf of The Booksellers Association:

 

The Guardian is writing a feature on the most stolen books from bookshops and they’d love to hear any anecdotes you have about books getting stolen for a light-hearted feature to run this Saturday.

 

Oh would they indeed?

Is this normal Trade Body behaviour, I wondered: asking your own paid-up members for anecdotes about that all-important “light-hearted” side of shoplifting?

Do Jewellers and Pet Shops get asked the same thing?

 

The e-mail continued:

 

For example, they have heard from some bookshops that Mills & Boon books are getting nicked, and another store had to keep titles on the GCSE/A Level syllabus behind the counter because they were being swiped. 

 

Yes, we couldn’t possibly have known what you were talking about without those handy examples.

So now we seem to have moved on to the light-hearted side of teenage shoplifting (unless we’re assuming that parents and teachers go round nicking GCSE books).

 

Whatever next?

 

  • The whimsical world of teenage bullying?
  • The playful aspects of teenage drug use?

 

Well, you get my drift.

 

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The journalist will need all examples by 5pm today.

 

Yes, I do find, when asking for favours: it’s always good to include an underlined deadline in bold type at the end.

 

As you can see, I’m not always in my best mood when reading shop e-mails, which mostly consist of unwanted LinkedIn requests and “paperless” invoices that I have to print out, so this e-mail did momentarily lead to a bit of a humour bypass.

I was fine by the next coffee break (about 9.40 am), but while reading it, the following thought occurred to me:

 

Do these people breezily asking me for light-hearted anecdotes know nothing of the huge amount of unwarranted daily crap that bookshops have to put up with when it comes to shoplifters, and in fact all illegal and anti-social behaviour generally?

 

Well, possibly not.

 

So in that case, this is my chance to lift the lid on that crap.

I’m going to take all that bad stuff, all those nasty encounters we booksellers regularly sweep under the carpet, and sweep it all back out again, for one blogpost only.

Let’s shine some light on that incessant line-up of villains, swindlers, kleptos, lawbreakers and general unpleasantness that booksellers have to deal with, here on the front line of retail, while all the PR types, Trade Body employees and Newspaper People sit snug and cosy in their offices, far from the combat zone.

(OK, granted. Some journalists are in actual combat zones, but you get my point.)

 

Are you sitting comfortably?

 

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Well, we might as well start with:

 

SHOPLIFTERS

 

High-end thieves

 

These are the guys who will target expensive items and know who to sell them onto.

They were a common species in the large bookshop I used to work in and would often swipe Art and Antiques titles with a value of up to 100 pounds.

Many of the stolen items in fact turned up days later at an unscrupulous second-hand bookshop fairly nearby.

It is probably easier these days to move stolen items on-line where you can enjoy a better degree of anonymity, accept Paypal and receive positive feedback about your “prompt delivery” and “great comms.”

The top-end thief is not particularly a problem in my Indie shop where the highest value book I keep has a retail price of 40.00 pounds and a street value of a lot less.

It is hard to see the appeal of stealing this, as opposed to:

 

  • Jewellery that might be worth 100 times the amount while being easier to conceal.
  • Designer clothing.
  • Second-hand books, again with a much higher value.

 

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No, in my shop, instead of the Professional Thief, what we tend to get is:

 

The Second-Rate Professional Thief 

 

This is often a junior variety of the above, who having stolen a high-value book (not from us), then finds he has no idea what to do with it, and ends up rather conspicuously trying to sell it to other bookshops, including those who only deal in new books.

But it is a new book.

We once encountered a 12 year old in a tracksuit trying to flog us a 60.00 pound book on Early Georgian Furniture, an “unwanted gift” apparently.

 

Yes, how did Granny get it so wrong?

 

Repeat Offenders

 

Sometimes, books disappear regularly from the same section or at the same time of day and you begin to realise you have a repeat offender on your hands, someone who keeps targeting your shop because they are getting away with it.

In this situation, I tend to put all my staff on permanent stake-out mode, keeping a watchful eye on customers either on CCTV, or by following them around the shop in person, until we can work out who the offender is.

 

No-one is above suspicion:

 

She may be very old, use a walking frame, and literally be one of our staff member’s grandparents, but I’m sorry, it’s just too early to eliminate her (or her guide dog) from our enquiries.

 

We once had a Friday afternoon thief helping themselves to books from our Creative Writing section.

(Bloody writers. Who needs them?)

After a few weeks, we whittled down a list of all the possible suspects, and were left to conclude that the culprit was a very well-dressed middle-aged lady.

Although we never caught her in the act, from then on, every time she came in, we followed her very closely, watching her every move.

 

She soon got the message and we never saw her again.

 

Of course, there is a slight chance that a completely different person was responsible for the shoplifting, and that the well-dressed lady stopped coming in because she was just too weirded out by me and my staff forever dusting clean shelves in her vicinity, and popping our heads up from behind open books like a bunch of deranged meerkats.

 

Either way, the pilfering stopped.

 

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The Buy-to-Read Thief

 

When the odd paperback goes missing, maybe a fiction or poetry title, it is pretty likely that the shoplifter intends to read it him/herself or at the very least, has a reader in mind to give it to.

 

Although I like to imagine our thieves trying to re-sell their stolen books in a dodgy East End pub:

 

What do you want? I’ve got laptops, iPhones, credit cards and the complete longlist of the Desmond Elliot Prize

 

this probably isn’t what actually happens, here particularly.

 

In some respects, having readers steal books is the lowest blow, because they seem to realise the (spiritual) value of books but not bookshops.

 

The Syllabus Thief

 

Not to be confused with the syllabub thief, known for having a faint line of cream on his upper lip, this will be the student who decides that 8.99 is just too damn much to pay for that set text and so pockets the book instead.

 

If you catch these guys in the act, they are the most likely to:

 

  1. Not put up a fight
  2. Break down in tears when you mention the word “Police.”

 

We’ll see what the Police have to say about this.  (tears)

 

The Police will want to speak to your parents.  (more tears)

 

The police regularly use excessive force and high-voltage stun guns when restraining Book Thieves. (meltdown)

 

Lesson learnt. No need to actually call the police here, we find.

 

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The Thief of Dubious Principles

 

These are those annoying types who only steal from big shops/chains/conglomerates because it’s a

 

victimless crime.

 

If they could see for themselves the meagre pittance that Waterstones employees earn, then they would understand this is patently not the case.

What’s more, when I worked in a big bookshop, I got just as upset when a book was stolen then as I do now, even though now, it seems more personal.

The selective thief is an annoying individual and I almost think it would be more honest if he just nicked from everyone.

When this strange logic is being applied, a small shop has little to worry about, but somebody did announce himself in my shop recently by saying:

 

Don’t worry. I wouldn’t steal anything from you.

 

This was not very re-assuring. I watched him like a hawk.

 

The Compulsive Thief

 

Some people just steal their way through entire shopping trips.

When caught, every item on their person can turn out to have been recently stolen.

We once had to contend with the notorious Budgens Carrier Bag thief, a chap of dubious repute who stole items from almost every shop in our area, always stashing his ill-gotten gains in a Budgens Carrier Bag.

He got away with it for quite a while but did have one small chink in his armour, that one fatal flaw that prevented him from being a Supreme Criminal Mastermind:

He always used the same Budgens Carrier Bag.

 

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The Seen-it-in-Books Thief

 

Yes, I know. We sell books that feature shoplifting.

 

There is a long literary tradition of shoplifters:

  • Renton in Trainspotting.
  • Patti Smith in Just Kids.
  • Miffy in Miffy is Naughty.

(In the latter case, that rabbit should really have been put down. That’s the Dutch for you: way too lenient.)

 

However, this is not an open invitation to steal books.

 

We also sell books about murder, kidnapping and cannibal fantasies but this doesn’t legitimise any of those things.

 

Oh, that’s just us is it, the last one? Fine.

 

The Fancy Dress Thief

 

Special mention here should go to an attendee at a Sci-Fi event we hosted who walked off with a signed book while dressed as a nine-foot robot.

I had to chase him down the street, ever-hopeful that platform heels would have a slight edge over stilts.

Excited children seemed to be rooting for the robot. I’m sure I heard a faint boo as I caught him.

The robot’s excuse:

 

Oh. I thought the books were free.

 

I’d have been more sympathetic if he’d somehow incorporated his outfit into the excuse:

 

On Planet Theta Cygni  IV, ownership is an altogether outmoded concept. 

 

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The Bulk Thief

 

This is the thief who could well be saying to himself:

 

If I’m going to run the risk of getting caught, I might as well take as much as I can.

 

(I have a similar policy when it comes to eating Fig Rolls: eat a whole packet of eleven and you can still only berate yourself once.)

 

There is a sort of trolley-dash mentality at work here and in many ways it makes sense.

As far as I can see, there doesn’t seem to be a different outcome if you get caught stealing twenty books from a single shop, as there is to when you steal a single book.

Also, there is obviously a higher sell-on value.

 

In the big bookshop I worked in, we once lost:

 

  • The entire H section of Fiction.

 

(which was good news for Joanne Harris: extra royalties from all that subsequent re-ordering.

Wait a minute. I’ve just spotted a motive there. Damn you Harris: got away with it.

I’m guessing Robert Harris caused a diversion elsewhere in the shop while Mark Haddon kept the engine running. It all makes sense now.)

 

  • Three entire shelves of dictionaries.

 

Quite impressive as (to me) they were virtually unliftable.

 

It is hard to believe anyone could get away with either of the above.

 

Sometimes in bigger shops though, the nonchalant thief who walks in with a box, loads up, and then walks out, can get away with it*, while the shifty type, ever looking up for cameras and waiting for that prime moment will get caught.

There can be a lot of comings and goings, reps, car stock, you name it, and perhaps if you saw someone walking out of the door with a box of books, you would just think it part of the modus operandi of the large bookshop.

 

*Don’t blame me if this doesn’t work though. In fact don’t try anything you read about here. What is this? The Haynes Manual to Shoplifting? 

 

 

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In my own shop, our Everyman Hardback Classics all disappeared at the same time, and one guy managed to swipe our entire Rainbow Fairy range.

With the latter, I had seen a dodgy-looking youth in a tracksuit walk in, but the shop was busy and we couldn’t keep an eye on him between us all.

(Thieves do like a busy shop and I’m sure it was no coincidence that he chose this time.)

The guy left the shop very suddenly in a bit of a blur, always a bad sign.

I went to the Children’s section, saw a huge gap where the Rainbow Fairy books should have been and ran out of the shop in a fit of rage.

I couldn’t see him anywhere but dashed the length of a couple of streets anyway. I ran out of energy pretty quickly and came to a breathless standstill.

My rage was subsiding and I was returning to my normal state of mind (cowardice with a side portion of self-preservation) when I spotted the guy.

He hadn’t seen me.

My first instinct was to turn back and pretend I hadn’t seen him.

Who would know after all?

But then I thought:

Wait a minute. Why did I bother speeding half way across town if I had no actual intention of approaching the thief.

So, damned by my own reasoning, I did approach him and I told him he had something of mine evidently concealed on his person.

He denied this, at which point I grabbed him by his top and resolutely refused to let go.

(I was all out of running, but still had a bit of grabbing left in me.)

A scuffle resulted, with him trying to wriggle out of his tracksuit top and me holding on for dear life.

A small crowd had gathered by now and I asked one of the onlookers to call the police because I was apprehending a shoplifter.

This only caused the guy to struggle more violently (a lot of flailing arms) and so, slightly worried for my own safety, and mindful that I wasn’t looking my best should this turn up on Youtube, I told him I would let him go if he gave me the books back.

This he did, and off he went at speed.

 

The chap who had phoned the police passed me his mobile and a voice on the other end told me:

 

I’m sorry. This is the emergency number. You’ll need to ring your local police force on *********

 

Evidently the helicopter support and commando SWAT team weren’t on their way. I gave the phone back.

My staff were quite surprised when I walked back in with the books.

I invented a few unlikely tales of heroism involving amateur kung fu.

I never saw the guy again.

 

The only problem I experienced was that every time somebody bought a Rainbow Fairy book from my shop in the ensuing weeks, I knew that the book had been down a hoodlum’s trousers and felt related pangs of guilt.

 

Naturally, every Rainbow Fairy customer from then on seemed to be an adorable small girl in a flowery dress called Gemima or Poppy, earnestly informing me about their favourite Rainbow Fairies.

 

Ye-e-es. That’s great. Have you tried Michael Morpurgo? 

 

I toyed with the idea of returning the books to the publishers, but though I could find returns codes for Manufacturing Defect (B31) and Bad Trimming (D02), there just didn’t seem to be one which corresponded with my whole “down a hoodlum’s trousers” situation.

 

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The Teenage Gang

 

These young tearaways operate like a plague of locusts, spreading themselves and their many hands throughout the bookshop so it is hard to keep your eye on all of them.

Staff have to be mobilised immediately.

(This basically means everyone putting their hot drink down on a safe surface.) 

As the gang exits, you can never be quite sure whether they have taken anything or not.

 

Sometimes they will act the hard man:

 

What are you looking at?

 

Or if you ask them to leave:

 

Yeah. Are you gonna make me?

 

Clearly, nothing says tough guy quite like acting up in an Independent Bookshop.

When this has been successfully achieved, they can then graduate to the next level of ultimate hardness: raising hell at Under-5 Playgroups and Silent Prayer Meetings.

 

The Distraction Thief

 

Closely related to teenage gangs, this is where a group of miscreants will try to tempt you and your staff away from the till area so they can get their grubby mitts on the holy jackpot: the till, basically that eight pounds and ninety-nine pence you took about three hours ago.

(They often choose the wrong day).

The distraction technique often seems to involve a teenager trying to lure you over to the children’s section by asking for recommendations for “my kid brother.”

For some unknown reason, nobody with good intentions ever asks for recommendations for “my kid brother.”

As much as we may all love our kid brothers, we just never seem to go to bookshops asking for suitable reading material for them.

So any mention of a “kid brother” is immediately suspicious and you should always recommend whichever book happens to be nearest the till:

 

Your kid brother would like to read this small map of the area.

 

Stick to your guns no matter how much the customer protests:

 

No. I know kid brothers and this small map is exactly what he would want.

 

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The Repentant Thief

 

A rather bedraggled girl once came into our shop clutching a well-read Patricia Cornwell paperback and accompanied by a priest.

The priest informed me that the girl had stolen the book from our shop some time ago and now wanted to make amends, at which point the girl muttered “Sorry” under her breath.

I waited to see if there was any more. An awkward silence ensued.

It soon became clear that paying for the book wasn’t going to play any part in this making-amends process.

Apparently the apology was all I was getting.

I mumbled an unconvincing “Don’t worry about it” and they left.

Should I have maybe put on more of a show of forgiveness and called her “my child” or something?

Sod that. I’m running a business here.

I was faintly impressed that she had read the book.

 

The Price Switcher

 

These are those sneaky buggers who swap price stickers over in order to buy a book at a cheaper price.

These types are more prevalent in second-hand bookshops where, armed with eraser and pencil, they change the price of your super-rare book to 25p and hope there’s somebody new or half-asleep (or both) on the till.

I’ve encountered someone swapping price stickers in order to buy a book five pounds cheaper.

In my mind, this is just as bad as nicking five pounds from my purse, or ten packets of Fig Rolls from behind the till (I have a bulk arrangement), but legally this is probably not the case.

The price switchers cunningly never actually walk out of a shop with a stolen item, which seems to be how the police define a crime.

I questioned somebody I suspected of price-switching once, and he retorted with some nonsense about:

 

Retailers are legally bound to accept any displayed price.

 

This idea is patent nonsense, even without price-switching, and needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes one of those ludicrous

The customer is always right

pieces of folklore.

 

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The Fake Refund Guy

 

A bit like the price-switcher, this is the guy who takes a book from your shelf and then brings it up for a refund.

Again, at no point does this chap actually walk out of your shop with a stolen item either, quite a clever ploy.

This is a difficult situation and requires quick thinking, especially if you never saw the customer take the book from the shelf. It is hard to level that lingering accusation without complete proof.

The added problem is that by refusing the return, you may allow the villain to walk off with the book.

I advise taking possession of the book, as this buys time and you have at least got your book back.

It is worth asking the customer for information about when it was purchased and perhaps tapping on your computer and saying:

 

Strange, we haven’t sold it for three years. Apparently we have two copies on the shelf. I might just check that. Hmm. There seems to be a copy missing. I’ll need to check CCTV footage before I can give you this book back.

 

This will all suggest you are onto him or you could just call him out once you are certain.

A threat to get the police involved might decide the matter too.

No matter how much he protests, he probably won’t want to be there when they arrive.  

Once you have called the police, he may have as little as 45 minutes in which to make his escape.

 

The Inside Job

 

Thankfully, we haven’t had any staff pilfering at our Indie. (My staff even try to replace biscuits.)

If we have, then they are certainly very good at it. (The biscuit replacement could just be a classic diversion tactic.) 

In my big bookshop days, I did once spend two days training a new member of staff.

Imagine my surprise when on the third day, he was caught stealing.

I cast my mind back, but at no point during the training had I mentioned anything about stuffing twenty pound notes down your socks. 

He must have gone rogue.

 

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Shoplifters. The question of whether to call the Police or not.

 

I’m sure all bookshops are different here, and it may well depend on who you catch.

My tendency is not to call the police for the following reasons:

 

  • You always have to wait a long time for them to arrive, and then longer still before they take away the thief. Which means:

You end up spending a lot of time babysitting someone that you really don’t want in your shop.

It can take you or one of your staff out of circulation for a long period of time, which might in turn affect sales.

 

  • My main aim is to deter thieves in the first place and avoid confrontation, but if we do catch someone in the act, my aim then is to prevent the thief from re-offending in my shop, and this is just as easily achieved by showing leniency and letting them go with a warning, than it is by calling the police, whereupon they might cause a scene or get violent.

 

What’s more: people don’t tend to go to prison for stealing a book. So anyone you report to the police will still be out there, but now with a huge grudge against you and your shop.

 

  • The police are quite fussy. I called them once after I had noticed someone take a book and put it in their bag, and was told they couldn’t come as

 

No actual crime has been committed.

 

I suggested they might want to be on the scene in advance of a crime being committed but this idea didn’t seem to go down very well.

 

Have these people not seen Minority Report?

 

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SWINDLERS

 

The Sleight of Hand

 

This is the “customer” who pays for a book with one banknote, and then says:

 

Wait a minute. Let me give you this note instead, and you give me that.

 

and before you know it, if he’s very good, in all the to-ing and fro-ing, you’ve given him far too much change plus the book too, and you end up with nothing, or if he’s very showbiz, a bunch of fake flowers.

 

Well that would make it almost worthwhile.

 

If you’re working in a shop, and you suspect this sleight of hand is being performed, my advice is this:

 

Just grab everything: the banknotes, the change, the book, clothing items, small children, anything you can get your hands on, and try to slow the whole process down until you can get your bearings.

 

It might be an idea to start a completely different conversation, to put him off his stride:

 

“Why are there so many sub-standard pencil sharpeners out there?”

 

 

The Crap Sleight of Hand

 

There is a definite artistry to the good swindle.

I had someone in recently who obviously wanted to pull off the banknote sleight of hand (as above), but who was just really bad at it.

All he could think of doing was to bring a book up to the till and then literally hold tight onto the banknote while I tried to take it off him, resulting in a very short and slightly strange tug of war, after which I said:

 

If you don’t give me the money, you haven’t actually paid for the book.

 

So he did.

 

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Forgers

 

There are plenty of fake banknotes out there. Hence the introduction of the all-new metal-with-added-meat notes.

It is the retailer who tends to take the financial hit on a fake note, if or when the bank spots it.

(I have faked the occasional coughing fit

No, you go first….cough….cough

in order to bank my takings with a slightly-less-thorough bank teller.)

 

We recently had two dodgy blokes buying the cheapest item in my shop (99p) with a twenty pound note of dubious quality.

Even though I suspected the note to be a fake, it was still a bit of a jump to call it out as such.

Plus I wasn’t in the mood for being assaulted: I’d just had my hair done.

So I told them that we simply didn’t have enough change in the till, which I seemed to get away with.

In fact, people do seem to be disconcertingly quick to believe that my shop has taken no money. 

(I use this line on Charities too).

 

If you intend to call out a banknote as fake in front of a customer, then it’s probably better to stress that you consider the payer to be an innocent victim too:

 

I’m so sorry. Somebody very unscrupulous seems to have slipped you a fake twenty there.

 

Of course, the banks would have you use a Fake Banknote Checker Pen which leaves a thick visible pen line on any fake note.

What the banks would have you do when handing back the now completely spoilt and unusable fake note to a dodgy irascible villain, I have no idea.

The main problem with Fake Banknote Checker Pens is that they tend to be lying around when you don’t need them, only to conveniently disappear when you do.

Clearly a design fault.

 

Window smashers

 

Most shops have had to endure a smashed window or two at some point. My shop has had its share.

Once I had a late-night smashed window (that 4am phone call from the police that every shopkeeper loves), along with for good measure some opportunistic thieves helping themselves to books through the gap.

As well as losing the pilfered books and the stock which was rendered unsellable by broken glass, and having to trade with a boarded-up window, to make matters even worse, the police took a book “for evidence” and never gave it back.

They were clearly in on it from the start.

 

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Drunks

 

Yes, we are all only a few drinks away from being a “drunk” ourselves

(actually about two in my case. I have a weak constitution. That’s why I’m so embarrassing at Book Events.)

but the marriage of drunks and my bookshop is definitely an unhappy one:

 

  • One drunk person decided it was a good idea to sit on a glass cabinet. It wasn’t. 
  • Another was sick in our doorway. We were open at the time.
  • Worst of all, one regaled us for several minutes with a sorrowful tale about how he missed his ex-wife. (The horror!)

 

Drunk people can be very difficult, but take heed, those new to bookselling, there is a silver lining:

 

  • They don’t tend to remember very much the next day.

 

So you can be as stern as you like with them and call them every name under the sun because soon enough, they will have absolutely no recollection of it at all.

 

Best of all, if they buy something, my advice is this:

 

Don’t give them a bag….. or a bookmark….. or a receipt, in fact anything that ties the purchase to your shop.

 

Then when they wake up in the morning and think:

 

Where the hell did this 30.00 pound hardback about Churchill’s secret war with Lenin come from?

 

they won’t be able to bring it back.

 

Icky Stuff

 

As a bookseller, you might see your shop doorway as a kind of gateway to the infinite riches of the mind.

To your average night-time reveller however, your doorway is in fact a “secluded” nook into which they can happily unleash great torrents of urine.

When opening the shop up in the morning, I am always wary of wet patches next to the door, particularly when it hasn’t rained for weeks.

This is still preferable to the excrement on shoe situation where an unwitting customer inadvertently spreads a foul condiment of doggy-load around your entire shop.

Then you get to see booksellers literally dealing with crap.

 

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Perverts

 

Sometimes a male customer will disappear into one of the many hidden areas of my shop.

As time passes and there is no sign of him re-appearing, I often get a strange feeling that he might be performing some unspeakable act, with his mouth agape and his trousers around his ankles.

I worry that if I pop my head round the end of the aisle, I might accidentally bring him to a sticky conclusion and somehow become complicit in this debauched act.

What if one of my nice well-groomed old-lady regulars should come by at that exact moment?

 

Well, thankfully this hasn’t happened yet.

 

Usually the chap will be sitting there reading a Paul McKenna book or something, but I have come across the following slightly unsavoury scenarios:

 

1) A dodgy man reading excerpts from a Massage Book to kids who were not his own (though would that have improved matters?).

I put a very quick stop to this and chucked him out.

We immediately moved our True Crime/Serial Killers section next to the Children’s Books instead and haven’t had any problems since.

 

2) A man with a small mirror on his shoe, through which he was attempting to look up ladies’ skirts.

He was a lot more conspicuous for only having a mirror on one shoe. He should have gone for both.

 

After we caught him, he said to me:

 

I was only looking at what was there anyway.

 

I found this argument strangely convincing for a minute or two. 

Anyway, it was clear that the man had learned his lesson and was very contrite: he kept his head bowed the whole time.

Wait a minute. I’ve just realised something. What was I wearing? 

 

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So there we have it, that’s the kind of crap we booksellers have to deal with and I’m sure many bookshops and other retailers have it much worse.

 

You could add to that list all of the following too:

 

  • Annoying sales people. (“Just in your area with some carpet”)
  • Pushy Utilities Companies.
  • Constant requests for money.
  • Vagrants.
  • Fake pro forma invoices. (The most heinous crime of all.)   
  • Unreasonable customer refund demands.
  • Damaged stock.
  • People using your shop as an Amazon Catalogue.
  • Dropped ice creams.
  • Spilt drinks.
  • Filthy hands.
  • Baggy Trousers.
  • Dirty shirts.

 

And I haven’t even mentioned Self-Published Authors 

(I’m still recovering from the last time).

 

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You can read the “light-hearted” Guardian article about shoplifting from bookshops here

One of the comments at the bottom of the article reads:

 

Nice article and a great way to start the day on a cheerful note.

 

A lot of very good bookshops participated in the article.  

(A lot of very good bookshops aren’t as cynical as me.)

 

The ubiquitous James Daunt contributed the following observation:

 

Whenever I’d go past Kierkegaard I’d make sure they and Wittgenstein were still there, but often the odd one or two would be gone and it always made me smile.

 

So some good news for Philosophy Students there: steal your books from Waterstones and make the MD smile.

 

Actually, shoplifting is still very common in Waterstones: last time I went into one, I noticed that somebody had swiped whole shelves full of books and replaced them with Chrysanthemum Trowels, Bike Horns and Tea Infusers.

 

Anyway, calm has now been restored at Secret Bookseller HQ, a fresh pack of Fig Rolls has been cracked open and it’s now time to sweep all this bad stuff back under the carpet.

 

If I’m being honest, then the bad stuff is probably less than 1% of what I do, and the other 99% is very enjoyable and rewarding.

 

Why don’t you write about that then?

 

I am a lucky person, professionally (I won’t bore you with the personal stuff) and so it would be extremely wrong for me to hold any grudges. Altogether very wrong indeed.  

 

Maroon Reading Lady Secret Bookseller logo on white background

 

By the way, I’m collecting contributions for a light-hearted blogpost about stealing from newspapers:

 

  • Maybe you read a newspaper on-line while using Adblock, and never contribute a penny.
  • Perhaps you steal yours from a newsagent, or just read somebody else’s old copy on a train.
  • Maybe you are an underpaid journalist and fiddle your expenses or steal stationary from the office.

 

I’ll need all examples by 5pm today.

 

 

4 comments on “Shoplifters and other Villains”

  1. You are so funny, laughed at “the Holy jackpot”. Is there any other shopkeeper that loves their product more than a bookseller loves their books? I think not.

  2. On the mark as usual!
    On the other hand, someone nicking stuff from your shop could be taken as some sort of judgement on your commercial acumen/ At least you are stocking the right sort of stuff!! (Joke here!)
    But what other shops encourage people to come in, spend a loooong time sampling the wares and then walk out without making a purchase. If I walked a few yards up the road to the butchers, took several bites from his pork pie and then said “.. it’s OK but not really what I’m looking for…” and left I imagine he might react in some way!
    Seriously though, our customers are why we do this job and the (very) occasional person we would rather not meet does not really detract from the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people on an almost daily basis!

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