May 18th, 2012 / 1:56 pm

ToBS3: Working at Best Buy vs. Calling yourself the editor-in-chief of an online journal

[matchup #50 in Tournament of Bookshit]

I don’t have specific thoughts regarding either of these things. I imagine that working at Best Buy is similar to many retail jobs? You deal with a lot of odd customers, coworkers, and supervisors? Maybe that is an unfair assumption. See, the only retail job I worked was at a used book store in Virginia when I was in graduate school. I stocked the shelves and I also purchased inventory according to a massive buying manual that the owners had seemingly haphazardly created full of random rules regarding what sorts of books we should take in and what we should not. We bought a lot of mass market paper backs and children’s books. My following these rules at the buying table often meant that I turned down a lot of great books, fascinating and interesting books, that the owners had deemed a waste of shelving space. Probably, from a business standpoint, they were right: they knew their customers, and theirs were customers who were not interested in Fowles’ The Maggot, nor were their customers interested in Barnes’ Nightwood. Both of these books intrigued me when I held them in my hands at the buying table, and even as I turned them down, I wanted to know what was between their covers (I later read Nightwood in a class; still haven’t read The Maggot). Another terribly weird part of this job is that we threw out a lot of books. Like, shitloads of books. And the owners required us to rip the covers off these books because a few years before I worked there, a customer had pulled books out of the dumpster that they had trashed and resold those books to the store several times. So there I was, tearing covers off books like O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, simply because these books had ‘been on the shelf too long.’ After that, I began to take the discards and put them nicely in a box and hide the box in the store until my assigned closing night, and then I would take the box to my car. At one point I had five boxes of books in my car, books the owners had deemed a ‘waste of shelf space,’ and these I distributed to my friends in order to make room to save more books. Eventually, the store closed because the owners couldn’t pay the rent, and I spent my final weekend at that job boxing up books to save from the dumpster in between breaking down shelves and stacking the book carts in a moving van.

Ryan Call

– – –

WINNER: calling yourself the editor-in-chief of an online journal.


  1. Brian Carr

      Ryan Call is the editor-in-chief of the universe. 

  2. Anonymous

      I once worked at a used bookstore. Still chuckle at the idiotic customers who seriously thought they should get either cash or trade value equal to the cover price. “I paid 6.95 for this Nora Roberts novel at Food Lion, and you’re only offering me .50?!”

  3. deadgod

      evolution from hobbyist shop to consumption depot vs. editing-in-chief

      winner:  dumpster lieberry