Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Customer's Not Always Right

Today's Washington Post carries the obituary of Jacques Morgan, owner of the Idle Time Bookshop in Adams-Morgan. I had remarked that I did not recognize the picture of him as someone that I had dealt with at the cash register, and the obituary tells why:
Mr. Morgan reserved a special dose of disdain for his customers — not the bibliophiles who might share his appreciation for a first-edition cover illustrated by the macabre-minded Edward Gorey, but those who pestered him with what he considered inane requests for bestsellers such as “Eat, Pray, Love.”
In fact, Mr. Morgan’s antipathy for many of his patrons was so pronounced that he and his wife long ago agreed that their business’s survival depended on him never working the cash register. Instead, he largely remained behind the scenes . . .
I don't know that I'd care to have my taste in reading judged out loud by a bookstore owner. I don't believe that snubbing a customer over Elizabeth Gilbert is the way to bring her to M.F.K. Fisher or Jill Ker Conway, or whichever author you'd rather sell. But I do admire the man's independence. His bookstore has had a 31-year run so far.

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