Elias Greig’s sketches from the other side of the bookshop counter is weirdly wonderful! It had me laughing out loud and sharing my favourite anecdotes with family. Elias is a veteran bookseller and he has collected the best, worst and most eccentric customer encounters from his years working in a Sydney bookshop.
As anyone who works in retail or hospitality will tell you, customers can be all kinds of strange. They can also be funny and kind, however you never know what kind of customer is about to step up to the counter. From badly behaved children to hipsters, loners and nostalgic seniors, each encounter is unpredictable.
Elias says some customers have no qualms asking for help that contradicts or has nothing to do with their status as a business. For example, free day care (‘Just for an hour, they’re no trouble at all’) to internet research, (‘Thanks for the info, mate, I’ll get it on Amazon’). Meanwhile, some purchases leave no room for doubt, for example Healing from Infidelity.
Elias admits the book began life as a kind of therapy and creative outlet. While working part time and completing his PhD he decided to start recording his daily interactions with customers. His aim was to share with readers what its really like on the other side of the counter; feeling his trepidation and incredulity alongside his delight and sympathy. It’s also a thoughtful reminder that those on the other side of the counter inhabit their own lives just as fully.
I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is a hilarious gift for book lovers and fans of The Diary of a Bookseller. Clever illustrations by Phillip Marsden.
Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Allen & Unwin, RRP $22.99