More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops



Jen Campbell









Constable & Robinson Ltd
55-56 Russell Square
London WC1B 4HP


This edition published by Constable,
an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd 2013


Copyright © Jen Campbell 2013


Illustrations copyright © The Brothers McLeod 2013


All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in
Publication Data is available from the British Library


ISBN-13: 978-1-47210-633-9 (hardback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-47210-741-1 (ebook)


Designed by Basement Press, Glaisdale
Printed and bound in the European Union


1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2


Jacket design by The Brothers McLeod











For bookshop customers, booksellers,

librarians, booklovers, book-hoarders,

bookworms and librocubicularists

(those who like to read in bed).





Ripping Yarns Bookshop


Weird Things Customers Say in Other Bookshops


Weird Things Customers Say at
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Book Signings




The world of bookselling is anything but boring. In the past year a drunk man has thrown up on my shoes, a woman convinced herself I was hiding Hugh Grant in our storeroom, and a little girl tried to get to Narnia through one of our cupboards. And that’s just the beginning.

Sometimes bookselling is the best job in the world. For example: a few months ago a customer gave us a call and said she was looking for a book she’d had as a child. She wanted to buy it to read to her grandchildren. As luck would have it, we had a copy, so we posted the book out to her. The following day, the customer called us back to say the book had arrived, and she couldn’t believe it: it was her copy. Her copy of the book from when she was a child. It had the inscription on the frontispiece from her great aunt, and a bump to the spine where she’d accidentally dropped it when she was seven. Her mother had sold the book in a car boot sale forty years ago, two hundred miles away from our bookshop. Somehow, we’d come across it and, somehow, she’d happened to call us. Moments like that are just wonderful.

On a day to day basis, customers of all kinds make the bookselling world interesting. This book will show you the weird and wonderful side of that. The strange requests. The odd comments. The rude remarks. Not to mention the, quite frankly, amazingly awesome things children say – such as the boy who told me that, when he’s older, he’s going to become a book ninja. I have no idea what a book ninja is, but I want to hire that kid. Children are excellent.

Chatting to people about about
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
, and travelling to other bookshops to talk about the book, has been a wonderful experience. I’m thrilled to be introducing the sequel. Like last time, this book also has quotes sent in from booksellers across the world, and there are some quotes from librarians, too. It’s comforting (I think) to know that people are saying strange things everywhere.

Finally, this book has a little section at the back with some weird things said to me at
Weird Things...
book signings. Now there’s a mouthful. Don’t ask. Just read.

The other day, a customer asked me what my favourite ‘weird thing’ was. I told him that changed all the time, but I have a particular fondness for the person who asked if Anne Frank had written a sequel to her diary. The man laughed and said: ‘You should have told her that she ghostwrote it!’ I think I might love that customer.

Many thanks to the Twitter followers and bloggers who have come to visit Ripping Yarns after reading
Weird Things...
Special thanks to the two French guys who acted out scenes from the book in the middle of the shop – in French. Excellent stuff. And, seriously, to everyone who goes into bookshops – whether you happen to say weird things or not – thank you for supporting those bookshops.

Long live bookshops, their booksellers, and every single one of their customers. (Well, maybe not the guy who threw up on my shoes. Everyone else still counts.)

Jen Campbell






Ripping Yarns Bookshop


where I work, is an antiquarian bookshop in north London. Owned by Celia Mitchell, it’s been a bookshop since the 1930s. We specialise in old children’s books, but sell everything from biography and poetry to esoteric and ephemera.






Hi. Can I help you find anything?

Yes. This is your history section, right?


I can see you’ve got books on World War I and World War II.

Yes, we do.

But I can’t find any books on World War III. Where are those?


Mummy, who was Hitler?


Yeah. Who was he?

Erm, he was a very bad man from a long time ago.

Oh. How bad?

He was like ... he was like Voldemort.

Oh! That’s really, really bad.

Mother: Yes.

So, did Harry Potter kill Hitler, too?

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Marianna by Nancy Buckingham
Doctor Who: MacRa Terror by Ian Stuart Black
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Sharpe's Triumph by Bernard Cornwell