tgwtdtFound this amusing little anecdote over on Not Always Right, the site where people post their stories of hilarious encounters with rude or obnoxious customers, and chuckled for quite a while afterward.

It begins innocently enough:

(A customer walks into the bookstore and begins looking around.)

Me: “Hello! Is there anything I can help you find today?”

Customer: “Yes, there is this book that I heard about on the radio that I want to read.  I can’t remember the title, though.”

Me: “Alright, do you know who the author is?”

Customer: “No, but I’m pretty sure that he was from Norway, and it came out really recently.”

but the punchline comes at the very end.

The publishers have been complaining that lots of people are doing this, but somehow you just don’t expect any of them to be quite so blatant about it.


  1. Well, the customer DID say the book “came out recently”, and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo isn’t that recent. But then I’ve sold enough books to know that the customer who doesn’t know ANYTHING ELSE about the book can’t be assumed to know when it came out.

  2. I worked in a medical research library for 10 years. When I worked the reference desk, it wasn’t unusual for someone to ask for “the blue book”. I would always know what they were talking about. I knew where this story was going too (I HATED Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

    When you work with books for a long time, you get to know them as well as children. It reminds me of the scene in You’ve Got Mail when Kathleen is checking out the “big box store” and the worker there doesn’t know what the customer is asking for and she does.

    That said, I haven’t read a physical book in almost 3 years, I just prefer my Kindle. However, I’m not so rude as to ask for help in a bookstore and then not buy anything there.

  3. I’m sure the joke’s on the customer because he/she was probably not looking for Stieg Larssons Män som hatar kvinnor – or as it’s know in english speaking countries, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – but instead for some of Jo Nesbøs latest books.
    He’s norwegian and most, if not all of his thrillers are translated to english. His latest is Gengångare that I suspect is Phantom (came out this year)
    One of them (not a Harry Hole thriller though) was recently made into a movie
    and I hear that Scorsese will direct a Harry Hole thriller soon.
    After that he’ll probably be as big if not bigger than Stieg.

  4. Years ago, my soon-to-be husband and I were in a music store, (remember those?), browsing when a clerk asked if he could help with anything.

    My stb husband, not knowing much about classical music, asked if they had the “light bulb song”. (At that time there was a commercial running ad nauseum on tv that featured this piece of music. I can’t remember the product, but obviously it had something to do with lighting.)

    I knew what the music was and that I had it on at least three CDs in my medieval music collection, but before I could open my mouth, the clerk said, ‘Oh, yes. We have Pachebel’s Canon in D in several arrangements.”

    I was so tickled by the fact that this 17 year old knew what my stb husband was talking about that I never mentioned the copies already at home and went ahead and bought another one!

  5. Me: “Hello! Is there anything I can help you find today?”

    Customer: “Yes, there is this book that I heard about on the radio that I want to read. I can’t remember the title, though.”

    Me: “Ok. Are you looking for a print copy or an ebook?”

    Customer: “Well, uh, I wanted to get it for my kindle.”

    Me: “Those are only available from Amazon. But we have lots of great books right here – just let me know if you want old-fashioned paper.”

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail