After a string of one-nighters, it feels like such a luxury to settle into a city for more than a day. My colleague Adena once remarked that she enjoys being planted in one place for awhile because you get up and go to work like everyone else.
It sounds weird but I kind of love Monday mornings for that reason. It’s a miserable rainy day, and I’m sharing that start of the work week grind, though I suspect I’m secretly enjoying my job more than some of these folks on the subway do theirs.
The problem is that there are fewer and fewer cities with enough critical bookstore mass to warrant staying for more than a night or two, and my week in Toronto is by far the longest duration I spend in any of the cities in my territory. Once, a book rep could easily spend a week in Minneapolis, St Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee. Now I can even do Chicago with a couple day trips. Sad.
Today I hit three good stores, so no complaints. Well, maybe one.
At one college store, I overheard a customer asking a bookseller to recommend a book. Obviously, not an unusual occurrence. But it was one of those frustrating, open-ended requests: “I have to read a novel for a class and it can be anything.” The student was unwilling or unable to share anything much about her reading tastes. The bookseller seemed flummoxed, annoyed, unhelpful. At most of the indie bookstores I call on, staff would be falling over themselves at an opportunity like this. Doesn’t every bookseller keep a quick mental index of favorites for these situations?