Death of the book, my sore feet. Death of the book, my hoarse handselling voice. Death of the book, my overflowing clipboard.
People are buying books.
They're buying them for their nieces and nephews and grandkids, their college friends' kids and their coworkers' kids, and their own kids (don't talk too loudly, he's right over there). They're asking about classics they remember from their childhoods and about what to give a kid who's read everything. (Breadcrumbs.) They know everything about the recipient and can describe exactly what they want (sometimes to the point that what they want doesn't exist); they've never met the kid. They want large, fancy gift editions; they want books that are easy to mail. Some have ten minutes' worth of questions before they even bring up the second sibling; some say "perfect!" to the first thing they hear described as "about right for an eight-year-old."
Luckily, most of these giving folks have enough residual goodwill to understand a chipper "I'll be right with you," and even more luckily, fellow booksellers jump in when necessary. It helps that it's the kind of store where we bring in food for each other all month, search for the perfect gift for our "secret gnomes," and even get store-sponsored massages.
The store is not a calm place right now, but by and large, I think it's a happy place. Which may be a symptom of a happier-than-we-thought industry.