10 weird things to happen in independent bookshops


We loved Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in bookshops so much that we asked a bunch of indie bookshops to share some of the weirdest requests to happen in their bookshop.

Part of our #IBW2016 10 years blog series. 

1. Chorleywood Bookshop – Hertfordshire
We once had a customer who asked if he could buy our radiators, we told him very politely that we would need them to keep warm next winter – to this day we are still not sure what happened!

2. The Bookcase Lowdham - Nottingham

“We had a customer ask us to tell us about the ending of David Nicholls’ ‘One Day’ to make sure it was happy, as she was fed up with buying what she thought were romances that turned out to have sad endings. After we’d done this for her, another customer, who’d overheard, picked up a copy of ‘Letters from the Titanic’ and asked if that had a happy ending!”
3. Harris & Harris - Suffolk

“Had a chap come in my shop a couple of months ago, looked around upstairs and down. Spent quite a while in the shop, then opened out his little travel stool, sat down, took off each welly and emptied them out on my floor. Put his wellies back on, closed his little stool and left. Didn’t even buy a book. *sigh*”`
4. Beckenham Bookshop - Kent

“Too many to mention, most recent favourite, colleague helping a customer with an order, ‘I'd like to order a book’, ‘Certainly, do you have a title?’ ‘No, I'm just a Mrs....’”
5. Atkinson Pryce - Biggar

“One strange request was a customer saying ‘I was in here 4 years ago and there was a book with a person on the front, do you still have it?’”

“Another one – customer sat on the chair outside and after about 15 minutes came in and said ‘I’m waiting for a menu’ (we have never been anything other than a bookshop)”.
“Sue said to a customer one day ‘is that your phone ringing’ and he said ‘no, I’ve got a duckling in my pocket’”.
6. Far From the Madding Crowd - Linlithgow

“One of the funniest thing was a man who marched into the shop, came straight up to the counter and asked how long it would take us to take two pairs of trousers up. After a confused minute, we suggested he might want the tailor's two doors down. In terms of books, we are always being asked for 'that blue book', or 'the one by him off the telly'. Recently, a lady asked us for a book she'd heard about on Radio 2 called 'something, something & something', she had no idea of the author. We worked out it was Wendy Cope's 'Life, Love and The Archers', which happily we had in stock!” 
7. Haslemere Bookshop - Surrey
“Upon picking up Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops (which says on the front “Do you have any books by Jane Eyre?”) A customer said “Oh how ridiculous is that, of course you’d have books by Jane Eyre!”
8. Village Books - Dulwich
“Not surprisingly the oddest thing that's happened here is also dog connected. A woman found a stray dog in the street. She was rushing to catch a train and someone told her that the bookshop likes dogs. She hastily deposited the dog with us and dashed off to the station. Cue lots of fussing and biscuits & much thought on how to track the owner. Eventually Tracey drove the dog to a nearby vet who found its chip and helped us track the owner. Dog delivered home later that day. We reckon we must be the most dog-friendly bookshop in Britain.”
9. Mostly Books - Abingdon

“One of the weirdest – but most wonderful - things to happen was shortly after we opened. Someone came into the shop to ask for book recommendations, although she couldn’t read. However, she was involved with a TV show that was taking a number of people and using a variety of techniques to see how quickly they might learn to read. We were delighted that not only did she learn to read, but that the first books she did read were ones bought from the shop.”
10. Lindum Books

“Probably the customer who asked if I could get them a first edition