Bookstore Etiquette: 5 simple steps to avoid looking like an ass among the stacks

I’m a geek, alright? One of those lisping, former braces-wearing, snorts when laughing, loves dried prunes kind of nerdly behemoths—if it was socially acceptable I’m sure my pants would be well above my belly button. We’re talking Urkel style: he is my messiah. I visit the library on average about three times per week, and love strolling to the local bookstore on my lunch breaks. Lately, I’ve been highly motivated to sell my books back on consignment to the aforementioned bookstore, before my collection of books falls on top of me and pins me to the ground, where I will remain buried until an archaeologist brushes the dust from my retainer in 200 years.

Why do you care to know any of this? Often we of the nerdly legions are thought to be beyond embarrassment. How the heck can you further embarrass someone whose retainer is caught in their eyeglass cord?

I’ll tell you.

I took a bag of books to sell back, like any other time I have done the exact same thing. I left the shop with an emptier bag and some sweet store credit burning a hole in my pocket. Only, this time the store people looked at me a little funny as I walked out. I noticed that one young guy, who I had chatted with on occasion, seemed to sidestep me with great gumption by veering around a tippy stack of cookbooks. Only when I arrived home did I find the reason for the strangeness, and promptly enrolled myself in the witness protection program. What follows is a cautionary tale for fellow word nerds.

At 17, after high school graduation, I went on one of the Mexico trips high school graduations are famous for. I enjoyed freaking my mum out with amped up pre-trip stories of all the debauchery I would participate in, and continued the tradition in Mexico by buying her a postcard (check it out below). When I got home, the postcard was reborn as my bookmark after my mum’s reproachful hysterics, and like many bookmarks in my possession (I have a real gift for losing them) soon vanished. The bookmark was lodged in a book I endeavoured to sell on consignment, which the store owners promptly found. When I opened my bag at home, there they were staring back at me from the place of prominence in the lining, a row of white bent bums on the beach. I went eighteen shades of red and blacked out for awhile in a sort of “eff my life” coma before rising again like Scarlett O’Hara and proclaiming to my cat that “With God as my witness, I will never give bum pictures to the bookstore again!”

As part of my posterior prevention quest, here are a couple of tips to help you avoid going to the bookstore or library with your fanny out on display. If I successfully master them, perhaps one day I will be let out of the nerdly witness protection program:

1)    Shake your library books and books for sale before parting with them. When I think of all the items I’ve used for bookmarks—love notes, shopping lists, receipts—I shudder.

2)    Check for inscriptions. A book to “my honey bunny” might be a book which, on second glance, you are not quite so willing to part with.

3)    Don’t swear at the self-checkout machines at the library. They probably meant you no harm, though I can’t be sure.

4)    Buy a book. Seriously—do it. From a small bookstore. I dare you. These stores are in trouble, so open the purse strings and spend your daily latte money on something good that won’t give you heartburn.

5)    Don’t argue with the librarian over the 30 cent late fee on your account. Pay the damn fee and be grateful the library/bookstore still exists and hasn’t been bought out by Amazon.