What’s Your Superpower? Our Booksellers Reveal Theirs

Posted on Updated on

SuperFriends image from The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of The Everett Collection

What does it mean to have a specialty? That you know a lot about something? Sure. In our case, that’s books; when it comes to the printed page, our booksellers know their stuff. But true specialists have more than just knowledge. They have particular abilities specific to their field of expertise — skills so finely tuned, you might even call them superpowers.

In a conversation in the storeroom the other day, our booksellers revealed their special talents:

Booksellers Steph and Ryllis show off their lightning-fast box-folding talents while packing up copies of signed books to send to members of the Parnassus Books First Editions Club.
Booksellers Steph and Ryllis show off their lightning-fast box-folding talents while packing up copies of signed books to send to members of the Parnassus Books First Editions Club.
  • Scale Hands – Holding a book and accurately guessing its weight to within 1 ounce
  • 3-D Measuring Eyes – Looking at a space of any size and calculating how many rectangular shapes can fit into it
  • The Smooth Touch – Sliding a book into a box, bag, or envelope of any size without dinging the cover
  • Encyclopedic Shipping Facts – Being able to recite exactly how long it takes a package to get to any state in the union, including Hawaii
  • Book Telepathy – The ability to think like a book that has been improperly shelved, tracing its journey until you find it
  • High-Speed Flapping – Opening a book; tucking the front cover flap in at the title page; doing the same with the next book; and so on; until you have a very tall stack of flapped books ready for an author to autograph
  • Kid-Whispering – Soothing the tears of a child who doesn’t want to leave the children’s section when his parent is ready to go, often by pulling an array of stickers out of one’s pocket
  • Impossible Gifting – The ability to zero in on the perfect present for the hard-to-shop-for person (example: “My brother-in-law is a dentist and he likes fiction, but he hates mystery, and he prefers short books, but only by local authors, and he’s already read everything I can think of. Oh, and he needs large print.”)
  • Automatic Alphabet – Everyone knows in their heads that L comes before M, but when shelving books, booksellers know in their hands that Mac comes before Mc comes before Me comes before Mi…
  • Instant Cover Recall – Mentally flipping through an index of thousands of books and finding the one in question when a caller describes it as, “You know, that one? With the lady on it? And the beach? And the spine is greenish grayish brown? And there’s that sticker on the front that says that thing about a prize? The title might begin with a P? Or a T? Or a U? No… a B! Wait, a Q? ”

Come on by sometime. Tell us what you like to read, and we’ll show you our supertricks.

* * * 

Speaking of bookstores and superpowers — 

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9781250037756
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Picador, 9/2013

$17.99
ISBN-13: 9781442457027
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 7/2012

$23.95
ISBN-13: 9781579129101
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 11/2012
$17.00
ISBN-13: 9780812983586
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 6/2012

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780375724886
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Vintage, 8/2004

Watchmen (Paperback)

$19.99
ISBN-13: 9780930289232
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: DC Comics, 4/1995

$17.99
ISBN-13: 9780763660406
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Candlewick, 9/2013

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780307279866
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Vintage, 6/2008

Steelheart (Hardcover)

$18.99
ISBN-13: 9780385743563
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Delacorte Press, 9/2013