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  We are doomed! These are actual conversations with people, who in theory, should know better. Keep in mind, these people drive cars, vote and might even have jobs.

(Grown-up woman, examining the book "The History of Placer County")

She asks her husband "Where is Placer County?"

He responds "it's where we live"

(phone call - grownup)

I have a book I want to sell.

What is it?

It's by John Stainback. It's called "The Wayword Bus"

Who's the publisher?

I just said, John Stainback

He's the author, sort of. Let's try again, what does the copyright page say?

Where's that?

Sorry, I can't use it. Thanks for calling.

(phone call - grownup)

I have an old book and want to find out what it's worth

You can look it up on Bookfinder.com

I would, but I don't know who wrote it!

Ok. What do you have?

It's a (sic) old book.

Yes, you mentioned that. What's the title?

I don't know. It's called the Collected Works of Shakespeare

(phone call)

Do you buy books?

Yes. What do you have?

Reading books.

Reading books?

Yea. Books you read.

Ok. But I am not sure what it is you have.

I just said. Reading books. Do you buy them?

No. Thanks for calling.

(phone call)

I found a book "---" on your web site. It was written by my Uncle. I was wondering why it is so expensive? ($50)

It was inscribed and signed by him.

Why should I have to pay for his autograph? He's my Uncle, not yours!

(sigh... and no, she didn't buy it)

(Older gentleman calls)

I see you have a book titled "---" listed on your web site for $200


I am the author.


That book originally sold for under $20


How can you justify that?

Justify what?

Charging so much!

That's what it's worth. Look it up on Bookfinder

You will make more on the book than I did

I guess I should feel bad about that! If it makes you feel better, you could adjust for inflation (30 years)

I just doesn't seem right

It's the free market at work. You shouldn't have written such a good book

I will take that as a compliment

It was

(I should add, I paid a lot more for the book than it sold for... originally. The customer I sold it to will probably donate it to his favorite charity and the cycle will continue. Makes me wonder how many profits there are in these things...)

(phone call)

You buy books?

Every day

I've got something you're really going to want

Lay it on me

It's a set of Tom Sawyer

Really! Who wrote it?

I just said, Tom Sawyer

He was quite a guy. Who published it?

Beats me!

Could you look? I'm mildly curious

Wait a minute

(a couple of minutes of my life go by that I will never see again)

You still there?


Gosit and Dunlop

It's a reprint set and a non-starter for me. Gotta go. Thanks!

A very nice, well-appointed lady spends about an hour browsing the stock, including the locked cases. After building a rather formidable stack of unrelated books worth over $3,500 (including some very scare Mark Twain first editions), I couldn't resist asking:

What do you collect?

Oh nothing, but I will purchase these.

(My curiosity getting the better of me) A gift?

No. I am going to use them to decorate my daughter's bathroom.

(Silly me! I failed to notice that the books were all various shades of green. This is a good thing, since the books will soon be color-coordinated with the mold).

Let me help you carry these out to your car.

Phone call:

I just received a book I ordered from you in the mail today and it's covered with syrup.

Hmm. When it left here it was in perfect condition.

Well it's covered in syrup now. I can send it back so you can see.

I'm thinking no. You might want to contact the post office.

I guess I could. Maybe I will just get a rag and wipe it off.

Good plan! Thanks for calling.

Older guy comes in...

I'm here for an appraisal.

I charge for appraisals.

No, I don't want to pay for nothing.

What do you have?

A book I wrote. It's about gambling.

Has it been published?

No, that's why I need a (sic) appraisal.

I only deal in old books.

Hey, gambling is old. It's been around a long time.

I don't think I can help you.

Yea I know, you're really wasting my time.

phone call...

Do you have any antique books and I don't mean antique books?


I will be returning the book I bought from you. I didn't like the plot. Will you be refunding my postage also?

phone call...

I have a bunch of old books I want to sell on e-bay. Can you tell me what they are worth?

Why would I want to do that?

My friend said to call you and that you know a lot about books.

You are missing my point. Why should I waste my time helping you?

So I can know what reserve to put on my books.

I charge for appraisals.

Well this isn't an appraisal. I just want to know what they are worth.

Sorry, you will have to call someone else. Good luck!

phone call...

Your yellow page ad says you buy autographs.

Yes we do. What do you have?

Some photos of Madonna, wanna buy them?

How are they signed?

What do you mean?

What do the signatures say?

They're not signed. Wanna buy them?

(guy, mid-thirties, brings in a couple of cheap, Nancy Drew reprints)

Hey man, watta ya give me for these?


Why not?

They aren't worth my time. They are just cheap reprints of popular kids' books.

What do you mean kids' books? It says right here, they were made in 1956. How could they be kids' books?

Thanks for coming in (I think not).

phone call....

I have a book I would like to sell.

What do you have?

It's called "Paul Bunyon". Have you heard of it?


I think it's fiction.

It might be, you never know...

phone call...

Your Yellow Page ad says you buy medical books.

Yes we do. What do you have?

Well, my Mom died and she was a hypochondriac.

Maybe she was right!

What do you mean?

Nothing. What kind of books did she have?

Sick books. You know, pills, diseases and all that!

Sorry, we only buy healthy books.


Yea. Sorry to hear about your mom.

(Two women discussing Toni Morrison's "Paradise")

Have you read it yet?

Well, I'm reading it now, but I only read it five pages at a time.

Why's that?

Well, I don't want to buy it, so I have to keep going back to Barnes & Nobel to read it.

(Couple, mid-forties. Pointing at antique book press)

What's that?

(Man explains) They put each page into it to flatten them before making them into a book.

(She) It must take a long time!

(Sharing knowledge is a beautiful thing)

(Woman mid-thirties, pondering a purchase)

I have never read a book this long. It would really have to be good for me to read this one (149 pps.).

(grown-up, looks around)

Do you have any real books?


Well, not like the ones you have here. You know, real books!

I'm not sure what you mean.

You know, books that are real.

Sorry, none of our books are real!

(Guy in his mid-thirties)

I never knew there was a libary (sic) here.

There isn't.

What is it?

It's called a book store.

What's the difference?

I guess there isn't any.

I didn't think so.

phone call...

Do you know anything about books?

We hope so.

I have a first edition of the Gutenberg Bible, can you tell me how much it is worth?

Ma'am, what makes you think you have a Gutenberg?

Well, it's German and dated 1880.

I'm afraid you're late by 300 years.

Really, it must be the Luther Burbank edition then!

(guy in his mid-30's, gazing at about 10,000 books)

Wheredjaget the books?

Pardon me.

Wheredigyaget the books?

Where did I get the books?


I bought them.

From who?

I can't remember.

Ya cain't remember buying all these books?


Whyde sell em?


The guy you bought 'um from.

I guess he needed the room.

Which room?

He didn't say.

You got a lot of books here pal.


(Woman, in her mid 30s)

Do you have the "Titanic" book?


I'd like to read it.

Uh huh.

Did you know it's a true story, except for the romantic part?

(this is worse than I thought!)

phone call...

Hello, is this the Bookmine?


Do you want to buy a piano?


Do you know anybody who will?

You have a book I want, but it's $30. Would you take less? I just want to look at the pictures.

Where do you have your sociology books?

We don't stock any sociology books.

Why not?

Pardon me.

I said, why don't you have sociology books?

Because they are boring!

I don't find them boring.

OK, they don't sell.

I buy them!

(I rest my case)

phone call...

Hi, I am interested in purchasing your BookMinder Software. Does it come with all the book information, or do I have to type it in?

Do you mean 'does it include the information on your books'?


No it doesn't. You might consider purchasing a program from one of our competitors though. Thanks for calling.

I am looking for a certain autobiography, but I don't know who the author is. Can you help me?

That might be difficult!

(customer standing on top of an old, oak library ladder)

If I was your attorney, I would make you get rid of this ladder.

If you were my attorney, I'd push you off it!

Are these books for sale, or do you just collect them?

phone call...

Hello, do you sell adult books?


No, books with no pictures.

Yes, we have a few of those.

How much are they?

It's too hot in here! Why don't you turn on the air conditioning or something?

You could take off your sweater.

phone call...

Hello, is this the BookMine?

Yes it is.

You were kind enough to locate a book that I had been looking for. At the time I decided I didn't want it, but I have changed my mind. I want to go ahead and order the book.

Great! How long ago did we call you?

Well, let's see. It would have been about three years ago.

phone call...

Hello, is this the BookMine?

Yes it is.

Do you sell rare books?

Yes we do.

Are you in Old Sacramento?


Oh good! Do you sell furniture too?


Sorry, I must have the wrong number.

(Customer gazing around, observing about 10,000 books in all shapes and sizes)

How much are your books?

Do people donate all these books to you?

Yes. We show up for work every morning and there are boxes of valuable books sitting at the front door.

Wow, really! I could open a book store?


If I opened a store, how would people know where to leave the books?

Is this a library?


Oh, it's a museum!


Well, what is it?

(family walking by the shop)

Dad, look a bookstore! Let's take a look.

Why? It's just books.

Come on. It will just take a minute.

Let's get some ice cream instead.

(man gazing around)

You have a lot of books.

Yes and they could all be yours!

What would I do with them?

Read them?

Why? I read one once.

Have you read all these books?

Of course! I never sell a book without reading it first.

(Real long pause)

When do you watch TV?

Are these books old, or do you make them look old?

We have a special spray that makes new books look old and old books look new.



Can I get some?

No, my distributor only sells to book dealers.

That's OK. If you will sell me some, you can mark it up!

Hi, I collect first editions.

What is your area of interest?

Well, I am not really sure.

Oh, you buy books that catch your fancy?

Yea. How do you tell if a book is a first edition?

phone call...

Hi, I have a book that is really rare.

What do you have?

It is called "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", but it's not the one by Mark Twain.

Really! Who is it by?

This one was written by Samuel Clemens.

phone call...

Hello, do you buy rare books?

Yes, what do you have?

Well, I don't have any.

Then why are you calling me?

Well, if I ever get some, I'll know where to call.

phone call...

Hello, I have an old Bible for sale.

We don't buy Bibles.

Why not?


This one is really old. It is pretty rare!

(pregnant pause)

How much will you give me for it?


But it's rare.

I am sorry, but I am not interested.

How come?

There is no market for old Bibles.

How come?

I don't know.

It is in really good shape. It belonged to my grandmother.

Why don't you keep it?

I would, but she is dead.

All the more reason to keep it, I would think.

What do you mean?

I have to go now. I am pretty busy.

If she wasn't dead, would you buy it?



Hi, are you hiring?

No. Not at this time.

I like books.

So do I.

I promise not to get in the way. I could just read or something.

Have you ever seen the Guggenheim Bible?



I see you have the Camden set. What is your price?


Well, I just want the plates! Would you take $750?

Oh! You want to break the set?


They aren't for sale.

What do you mean? I'm a DuPont!

That's nice!

Hi, are you hiring?

No. What color do you call your hair?


I have never seen that shade before.

My parents hate it.

I'm with them.


Yes. Can I give you some advise?


Try to look normal if you are looking for a job.



(Conversation with a particularly dumb, ex-employee)

Lisa, there seems to be a discrepancy in the receipts from yesterday.

Oh that! David's Mother needed some money. So I lent her $100 dollars out of the drawer.

Did you leave an IOU?

No, I forgot. But she is bringing the money down right now.

We are closing in five minutes, think she will make it?

I hope so.

So do I. Let's call her and make sure.

No, I don't want to bother her.

The receipts don't seem to match up. Why was this item deleted from the inventory?

It was an accident.

How do you accidentally delete an item?

I don't know, it just got deleted.

You're fired! You have one minute to give me your keys and get out of here.

I can't believe I am being fired for such a small amount.

Believe it!

(Reference happily given upon request)

Hi, I am looking for an old book.

What's the title?

I don't remember.

OK. Who is the author?

Sorry, can't remember that either.

OK, you are making it a little tough here. What was it about?

I don't remember. But it was my favorite book when I was little.

I don't think I can help you.

OK, thanks for your help.

phone call...

Could you give me your address?

4020 El Camino Avenue, Sacramento 95821 (old address...)

What state is that in?

phone call...

Are you hiring?


Good! Can I have your company's name?


I have to tell the Unemployment Department that I am looking for a job.

This is the Unemployment Department. Can I get your name?


phone call...

Hello. I have some old books for sale.

What kind of books?

Old ones.

OK. What subject areas?

Where does it say that?

phone call...

How can you tell if a book is old?

Age is a state of mind.

OK. But what makes a book old?

It's relative kind of thing.

OK. But, hum, how do you know if it is old?

Try looking at the date.

Where's that?

Usually on the copyright page.

Where's that?

At the library.

OK, thanks.

phone call...

I have some old books.

Really, so do I.

How much will you pay me for them?

Good question. What do you have?

I'm not sure.

Why don't you bring them by.

Drive all the way downtown?

That's usually the way it works.

You're kidding!

Not really.

How much do you pay for books?

Depends on what you have.

Are there any other bookstores in town?


What are their phone numbers?

Hang on, let me look them up for you.

(After being left on hold for 10 minutes, he finally hung up)

(The BookMines' first day of operation, 1984. While I am busy building and stocking shelves, some guy plops his rather ample bum down and spends about an hour pontificating in this general vein)

So, you really think you are going to make a go of it?

Geez, I hope so.

You think people are going to buy old books? Nobody reads any more.

Maybe not.

Personally, I think you are making a big mistake.

God, I hope not. I can't afford too many mistakes.

Did you know most businesses fail in the first 3 years?

Yea, I've heard that.

What makes you think you are any different?

You are trying to bum me out aren't you?

No, I'm trying to save you from making a big mistake. Why would anybody buy old books? You really haven't thought this through have you?

Maybe they won't. But we will just have to see.

If you need a job, they're hiring where I work.

Where do you work?

Country Club Lanes (the bowling alley).

phone call...

I have a rare book.

What do you have?

It's called Sea Wolf.

By London.


What makes you think it's rare?

It's signed by him.

Is it a first edition?


Who is the publisher?


It's a paperback?


What year was it published?


He must have been pretty old when he signed it.

Yea, he was.

I have to go now.

Do you want to buy it?


Why not?

I don't buy paperbacks.

OK, thanks.

You're welcome.

(a customer piles a huge batch of seemingly unrelated books on the counter for purchase)

(me) It's none of my business, but what do you collect?

Books written by authors with seven letter names, that start with the letters "CH".


I don't know, but it sure is interesting!

Where are your religious books?

We don't have many in stock. But we do have a few 19th century books.

I don't want old ones. I just want ones with the truth.


You have a book I want. But I don't want to pay $30 for it.


What if I buy it and bring it back tomorrow. How much will you give me?

About half what you paid for it.

What a rip off!

Yea it is. Have you considered going to the library?

If I get it at the library, I have to take it back.

Kind of like here, huh? Except here you get money back.


But cheaper in the long run.

Huh, oh yea.

What do you want to do?

I don't know.


What do you think I should do?

Go to the library... or buy the book.

I don't have $30.

Do you have a library card?


You could get one.

I just want to read the book.

See ya.

(Customer fills out search card: 16 Chapels)

(me) Oh, you're after books on European Churches?

No, just books about the 16 Chapels.

16 Chapels?

Yea, you know the one with the big painting on the ceiling.

We will let you know what we find (once we stop convulsing).

(a not too brief departure...)

Periodically, whilst enduring a bout of abject boredom, I review our server logs and lo! Here are a select few of the search engine queries that have led some weary travelers to our web site:

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dumb stupid quotes
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The left side of my brain says, and I quote "Well, I guess I should be glad these fine people found our web site". The right side says "wtf".

Well, you made it this far! Congratulations! Give yourself a raise.
If you have the stomach for it, why not take a "term for the verse".

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