Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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I Can’t Remember the Title but the Cover Is Blue (Elias Greig, A&U)

Sydney bookseller Elias Greig thought writing down his customer interactions would make for a nice creative outlet in between part-time work and his PhD thesis. The resulting book, similar in format to Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, is always amusing and often laugh-out-loud funny. The broad spectrum of human behaviour is on display here, from the quite endearing to the downright bizarre. There is the customer who gets angry that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play, not a novel (‘But why would she do that?’), or the woman buying Kate Grenville’s The Secret River as a present for someone she thinks is a racist. Greig asks how she thinks the person will respond to the novel. ‘I hope the bitch cries.’ Besides the often jaw-dropping dialogue, Greig adds his witty and razor-sharp observations. He describes one customer as ‘dripping in gold like a Celtic priestess with a real estate business’. In another entry he describes new stock from a particular publisher as ‘reactionary filth’. Booksellers will no doubt find these true tales from behind the counter cathartic (disclosure: this reviewer is a bookseller). For the general reader, there is much to chortle at in these brilliant—sometimes hair-raising—sketches.

Chris Saliba is the co-owner of North Melbourne Books and a freelance reviewer


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