Letters from the Bookstore Manager


By Kathy Crowley

Dear Ms. Pennywise,

I am writing to thank you for your consistent patronage of Practically Perfect Bookshoppe and to touch base with you about one of your customer habits.When I review your account with us, I cannot help but be delighted with your frequent business! Why, in the past six months I see that you’ve purchased an average of 15 books a month. I also cannot help but admire your taste. For example, Forgotten Nose is one of my favorites of this year, and Nostradudas has not, in my opinion, received nearly the attention it deserves. As the book-buyer and the person in charge of staff favorites, your selections thrill me!

On a less happy note, I see that you have returned every book you’ve purchased from us within a week of its sale. This is indeed a troubling habit from our point of view. Are you perhaps not familiar with the public library? Here in Bluemuffin Hollow we have a main branch located on Privet Drive and branches on Cherry Tree Lane and Deckawoo Drive. I’m enclosing maps with the best routes marked – red for auto, green for bicycle and pink for on foot. I do think you’ll find the library to be a great resource!In the meantime, I’d also like to take this opportunity to notify you that we will no longer be able to accept returns from you here at the bookstore. Please imagine an emoticon using a colon and an open parentheses sign here. I cannot bring myself to use punctuation symbols in a pictorial fashion, but I do want you to know that this decision saddens me.

Best wishes for a happy reading experience, however you obtain your books.


Mary Margaret Snowe


Dear Mr. Bowling,

I so much appreciate your regular attendance at our readings and discussions. As the event planner at Practically Perfect Bookshoppe, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to look out and see a full room!  I’m sure you understand that we want the experience to be as enjoyable as possible for our patrons. Toward that end, we ask that guests make every effort to minimize noise. Cellphones, for example, should not be in use, as entertaining as these conversations may be at times. (I know we all got a smile out of your long discussion with your coworker about how to extract the jammed paper from your office printer!) More recently, we’ve had several complaints about the crinkle of cellophane packaging, the snap and pop of soda cans, and bodily noises such as belching that may interfere with the enjoyment of other patrons.

Sadly, those complaints are the impetus for this communication.I’m sorry to say, we will no longer be able to allow you to bring in your dinner from the fine fast food establishments nearby. In order to offset any discomfort this may cause you and others who may be hungry, we plan to offer small servings of low decibel foods such as angel food bites and quinoa sponge puffs.

Finally, I hope you will not find it untoward of me to mention that excessive eructation, borborygme and flatus can indicate conditions requiring medical attention. I’m enclosing information about the online support group “Gurgitators Anonymous,” as well as the names of several local board-certified gastroenterologists who are accepting new patients.

I do hope to see you our next event, a discussion of the book Kreme Puff – The Rise and Rise of the American Doughnut. I think you’ll especially enjoy this one!


Mary Margaret Snowe


Dear Ms. Hobson,

Magazines are such a delight, aren’t they?  We at Practically Perfect Bookshoppe are proud to provide such a broad selection to our patrons.  I myself admire the excellent visual quality of many of our photography magazines, the fun of celebrity tracking rags and the sheer panache of some of the art publications.  I often find myself tempted to flip through a publication and read a short article or two without purchasing the magazine. (I will even confess that, on one occasion while perusing a magazine at a local newsstand, I extracted the strip sample of my favorite perfume, L’Air du Temps!)  Alas, we are all so human.

However, my staff has brought to my attention a particular habit of yours, which is problematic. They report that during your daily visits to Practically Perfect Bookshoppe, you often settle into the red chair at the back of the store and peruse the magazines. They have noted that, in order to gain purchase of the often slippery pages, you tend to lick your index finger, then apply the licked finger to the page. Every page. I surveyed some of your favorite magazines and indeed noticed that nearly every page bears evidence of licking. (It disrupts the neat closure of the magazine, as I’m sure you’re aware.)

If you were to purchase these magazines, we would have no problem with the licking.  Returning these to the shelf, however, means that we are offering a less than optimal item to patrons who come by later. Additionally, there are matters of hygiene, and as the person in charge of janitorial and health issues at Practically Perfect Bookshoppe, I cannot let this pass.

The ideal solution from our point of view, of course, would be for you to buy a magazine before you read it. If you cannot do so, we ask that you consider your fellow patrons and not allow your saliva to touch the pages of any unsold magazines. To help you with this challenging habit, I’ve taken the liberty of tucking a small bottle of a distasteful liquid named “THUMB LIBERATION” into the topmost corner of the magazine rack. As you may be aware, THUMB LIBERATION (and similar products such as THUCKIT) are designed to discourage thumb sucking.  My thought: you can simply apply this to your index finger whenever you feel that temptation may get the best of you.

Here’s hoping we can make progress on this small roadblock!


Mary Margaret Snowe


Mary Margaret Snowe is the manager of the independent bookstore Practically Perfect Bookshoppe, in the town of Bluemuffin Hollow.  Ms. Snowe believes that an outstanding bookstore manager combines excellent customer service, love of literature, an appreciation for the bottom line, and perfect manners. 


Collective Amnesia: Why Are Teen Girls Losing Their Memories?


By Chris Abouzeid

My teenage daughter was the first to point out this epidemic to me: Teen girls—all over the world, in the present, the past, the future—are losing their memories. Sometimes it’s total amnesia, sometimes it’s partial memory loss. Sometimes it’s due to a physical accident or mental trauma, sometimes it’s something far more sinister. But any way it happens, it’s a serious problem.

What’s the source of this epidemic? YA authors, of course. Yes, the same people who gave us infestations of wizards and hordes of vampires, who filled the galaxy with dystopian worlds. Now they’ve hit us with the worst plague yet: memory loss.

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