Which bookstore trope are you? These are the ten types of people you'll see at the bookstore.

Believe it or not, print is still drawing breath, and people still slink into bookstores everywhere to pick up the latest copy of Swank, er, I mean the latest New York Times best seller. Hopefully, thanks to this helpful list detailing the ten types of people you see at the bookstore, the next time you find yourself amongst the crowd at Barnes and Noble, you’ll be able to survive with your sanity intact.

The book club member

This person doesn’t even seem to be aware that there any other books in the store other than the ones personally recommended by Oprah. They’re afraid of anything that doesn’t have the words New York Times Bestseller on them or the name Nicholas Sparks. They’re not there because they want to read but because they have a desperate need to find something to talk to their boring friends about.

I mean, there’s only so much a person can drink. At some point you have to talk about something and what’s better than the latest tale of an Afghani orphan who lost his kite while his girlfriend was dying from cancer and can’t remember his name because of the amnesia brought on by years of sustained drug abuse and the harrowing struggle with sobriety that followed? Not a goddamn thing, according to Oprah.

The social butterflies

These people seem utterly oblivious to the fact that the place is designed to, you know, sell books. Instead, they’ll find someone they know and then chat amiably for an hour or so about everything and nothing, blocking the aisle – and all the books – the whole time. To make matters worse, these are always the people who just don’t seem to care – or even notice – that they’re talking at a decibel level that would make even Ozzy Osbourne uncomfortable. You’ll have to listen to every annoying joke and every minute detail of their lives, right down to the results of little Jimmy’s little league game.

If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to escape the bookstore with your sanity intact and without being hauled away in handcuffs for brutally murdering someone with a copy of War and Peace.

The fantasy geek

Ah yes, this poor chap. He can usually be immediately identified as the shifty looking fellow with the furtive eyes, slinking around the aisles looking for the latest book involving dragons or generously bechested cartoon Asian girls — or both at the same time. He’s harmless – mostly because he’s more scared of you than you are of him – but don’t get too close lest the aroma of stale Cheetos dust and flat Mr. Pibb overwhelm you and bring you to your knees.

The last place you want anyone to find you passed out is below the Manga rack or surrounded by Hobbits and wizards. I mean, at the very least you run the risk of being used as an unconscious prop in an impromptu Dungeons and Dragons game and let me tell you, you do not want to be defenseless around a fat dude pretending to be an orc. It won’t end well.

The bargain hunter

This poor soul doesn’t care what the book is about, all she cares about is whether the damn thing is in the bargain section with a sticker on it saying that it’s now 75% off. Sure, it might be a book on horticulture in 19th century Namibia or a cookbook by Jeffrey Dahmer, but she doesn’t care as long as it’s on sale.

She’ll never read or use it but that’s her problem, not yours. The best thing you can do is just leave her to it and hope she doesn’t accidentally wander into the sections filled with books people actually care about. Chances are if she sees one with a full price sticker on it they’ll faint right into your arms and who needs that hassle?

The hipster who wants to show the world he still reads books

This guy can be seen parked near the poetry section or the classics, “casually” browsing through a translation of Dante or pestering the clerks about the availability of some obscure 19th century Russian novelist in a loud enough voice so that everyone can hear. Hey, everybody, this guy’s smart! And he reads shit you’ve never even heard of! He’ll scoff at you when he sees you carrying around – gasp! – a work of contemporary fiction. You could punch him in the throat and then laugh at him while he sputters in pain but I’d suggest asking him instead if he knows where to find a copy of a made up book title by a made up author, preferably with a foreign sounding name. Try something African. He’ll feel completely ashamed that he hasn’t read it and he’ll probably even flee the store. Problem solved.

The man of a thousand questions

This dude isn’t content just to look for a book on his own. Oh no. Instead, he’ll park himself in front of a clerk and ask a thousand different questions about the book – where can he find it, is it any good, has the author written anything else, etc. which, incidentally, are all questions he could easily find out the answers to on his own. But that’s not his style. Why do a tiny little bit of legwork on your own when you can harass some poor dope making minimum wage who just wants to punch out and go home and burn all his books instead of answering all those dumbass questions.

Of course, the man of a thousand questions won’t be satisfied until he’s made that poor employee also look up a dozen other books, order four or five more – which he’ll later call up and cancel – and then to top it all off he’ll leave without buying anything. Why? Who knows?

Parents who can’t find a babysitter

These people are simple to identify. They’re the ones wandering around in a daze while their brats run wild, grabbing everything off the shelves they can get their grubby little hands on, whining and begging and pleading for the 68th book in a never-ending series of dumb children’s books that are all the same.

Sure, it offers the parents a little bit of a respite. They can let their kids be everybody else’s problem for a while but for everyone else, seeing a group of kids entering a book store is akin to seeing Bobby Brown wander into a crack den. You know there will be inappropriate laughter, shouting and tears, some mild property damage will occur and at some point someone will probably shit their pants.

The man who makes himself at home

This dude pulls a book off the shelf and then sits down to read it right there in the middle of the store. He has no intention of buying it. Why do that when you can just read it right there? Of course, he has to make sure he’s comfortable too and he’ll pop his shoes right off. He might take a nap somewhere in the middle of his tome and then he’ll get up, stretch and wander around for a while.

He might grab some coffee and a bagel and surf the web for a while in between chapters and then he’ll take the book into the bathroom for some light reading while he takes a dump. And then when he’s done he’ll put it back on the shelf, pack up and leave without buying a thing. Just leave him be unless you catch him shaving in the bathroom or something.

The homeless wanderer

This poor girl doesn’t have a clue what she’s looking for. She’s not even sure why she’s there other than she received a gift card for her birthday eleven months ago and has to use it before it expires. She’ll roam every aisle, looking for nothing in particular. She’ll get in your way and she’ll just stand there reading a different book every five minutes, oblivious of the fact that you need to grab that one book right in front of her.

In the end, she’ll just wander out with a couple of magazines and a novelty calendar, never realizing that you were only minutes away from giving her a judo chop and then beating her half to death with the collected works of Jane Austen.

The vampire groupies

Good God, these are everywhere. It started with vampires and now look where we are. They have descended upon bookstores in such terrible numbers that now stores have entire sections devoted to “Paranormal Teen Romance.” If that sounds too ridiculous to be true, well… just go to your local bookstore and then weep for the future.

But while you’re there, be careful to avoid the roving bands of goths and middle-aged women desperate to find the next tale of a brooding werewolf with an English accent, six-pack abs, and an unhealthy fixation on teenage girls. And God help you if you suggest that there’s something creepy about a 168 year-old man who literally drinks human blood stalking a 16 year-old girl. You’ll never leave the bookstore alive. You’ve been warned.

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But that’s not all. Want to find out about the 10 types of weirdos at the adult bookstore?

P.S. Protect yourself from the coming data-powered panopticon by getting a VPN.

Neil Bulson is a freelance writer who lives along the shores of Lake Michigan in a majestic castle where he spends his days beating his serfs and his nights writing and drinking firewater.

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