"Booksmith was my childhood," an adult customer told me this week as she checked out. She shared a few early memories of finding specific books, all of which have since flown out of my head, because the store is gloriously insane these days. But amid that insanity, it's bolstering to remember that that's what we're doing: we're helping people make memories. I'm reminded of this now as a group of customers ask me to take their picture from my post at Infosmith. I'm reminded of it every time a dog drags his or her owner from the street straight to the register. (Psssst - we have dog biscuits.) I'm reminded when a longtime customer calls us by our original name, "Paperback Booksmith," or tells me, "I've been coming here since before you were born."
Young repeat visitors clamour to see their old friend the bear, and yesterday, an even younger, newly talking visitor said "books" so clearly, I could've sworn she was about to give me a dissertation on her favorites. Everyone from preteens on up waxes nostalgic upon encountering childhood favorites; even the adults who think they don't remember anything about children's books melt at the mention of Beverly Cleary, Richard Scarry, or both.
I don't know whether they'll remember that Little Mermaid book from the spinner or whether they'll stump future booksellers by half-recalling the titles of the books they get this season. (Write 'em down now, kids. "Mysterious Benedict Society" is quite a mouthful to remember for a generation.) But everything I'm seeing these days - the crazy moments when everyone's being paged in twelve different directions, and the quieter moments of reflection on this special thing we've got here - makes me suspect that fifty-plus years from now, there will still be booksellers to stump.