A Bookshop: Where Danger Resides and Royalty Hide

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When you are an English student and adore reading books you might think that working in a bookshop is the most perfect job in the world, right? Guess what?

So, yes, I can official say I work in a bookshop. But when you are a newbie you surely don’t spend your time between the treasures of words and letters. No, you will be asked to deal with the magazines, papers, and of course: the customers. Each shop has its own customers and so does a bookshop. However, bookstore customers are a whole different thing. The wide variety of people buying books, asking questions, acting strange, looking sinister…I bet you don’t find that in your average fashion or retail shop. Ok, maybe you do, but still… sharing my bookstore adventures might just spark your interest or turn your view of bookstores filled with bibliomaniacs around.

You see, working in a bookstore can be quite dangerous. For example, we had a customer who put his book on the counter asking “Is this a book for a guy?” What on earth is a book for a male specimen? Who is certified to decide a book is specially for woman or man? My co-worker’s response was: “If it’s not pink…”. A very dangerous answer indeed.

Not convinced? What if a customer buys a book and suddenly starts his story out of nowhere that if we (that is, booksellers) would try to cut our wrists to see if we have blue blood (to check if we are royal descendents) we would have made a big mistake. Why? We would realise our blood is red. Why would he tell us this? No idea, but he proceeded to show his ID that he indeed, we ought to believe him, is royalty (not that we had ever heard of this name “Echten,” let alone the man himself). “Echten” started to explain some early modern disputes between smaller lords around Heerenveen and Hoogeveen, which started when the Union of Utrecht started buying up land in both areas and played out those lords against each other. Subsequently, the customer told my fellow bookseller that he believed none of that stuff. Unfortunately I lost the conversation afterwards, but when the destined man walked away he did give us some good advice: “If you want to earn some money, steal bikes from the sheds near the central station”. Right, as if we weren’t earning money listening to customers like him ;).

So, what did we learn again today? Listen to the royal family because they are always right? Steal a bike and when you get caught tell them that a member of the royal family told me to do it? Don’t do drugs? Don’t trust shabby men who claim they are from royal descendence? Like I said, selling books is serious business! Adventurous times lie ahead.


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Johanna Feenstra, or Shizuka, studied English Language and Culture at the University of Groningen and is currently enrolled to the Research Master in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies. She loves to read, is an absolute tea-addict, and is interested in the Medieval period and the position of women in ‘any’ society or time period.

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