Sunday, June 17, 2012

Generally Horrible Questions: Sara Glassman

Sara Glassman
(Liz) I called on independent bookstores in Alabama for about a year before my territory shifted westward. Alabama too often has to overcome the "South is scary" stereotyping--squeal like a pig, Forrest Gump, the KKK, and more recently this guy, Tim James the Xenophobe, who was running for governor.  I want to be clear that I never had that sort of experience in Alabama, and I enjoyed going to Birmingham in particular.  Birmingham has a giant statue of Vulcan, quality restaurants and attractions, hills, and cultural diversity.  Yes, Alabama has a legacy of racial intolerance, but it's also the home of the civil rights movement.  Birmingham was a part of that past, but it's also a city with a distinctly urban feel.  And it has bookstores.

Little Professor Book Center.
I ALWAYS tripped on that
spiral staircase.  Always.
Birmingham is the corporate headquarters of Books-A-Million, but I was there to sell books to the independent bookstores, including Little Professor Book Center.  There are stores you walk into and the employees are clerks, and there are stores where the employees are booksellers.  Sara Glassman of Little Professor is a bookseller.  She wants to talk books, she wants to tell you how much she loves books, and, well, she isn't afraid to mock the bad ones.  The store's buyer also is her significant other, and Sara's certainly not afraid to give him a hard time.  Of course I was all in favor of that.  So here you go--generally horrible questions for avid book lover, crafter, and woman who gets the joke, Sara Glassman.  Enjoy.

Generally Horrible Questions: Sara Glassman

1. How did you get in the book business?
I was always a big reader and Little Professor was the bookstore I used the most when I was in high school. When I moved to Birmingham it was the first job I applied for here. Paul (the owner) gave me the job on the spot and I've been working here ever since. [So you're saying that you were a loiterer and it was either call the cops or put you to work.  Got it.]

2. What’s your favorite thing about Little Professor?
All the power they give me. Mwahahahaha. Um... Wait. I didn't mean that. I meant hand selling. I love talking to people about a book and convincing them to buy it. Then if they come back and tell me if they liked it or not, that makes it better! [And the power, right?]

3. Make fun of Drew’s (in)ability to buy romance novels. And feel free to take pictures of him wearing a kilt since no one reads this blog. [Drew is Sara's significant other and the store's buyer.  Sometimes buyers have to order books about which they are clueless.  Drew has a "gift" when it comes to romance.]
Sadly, there are no pictures of Drew in a kilt. He thinks they're stupid Scottish propaganda. Actually, he, being Irish, has a huge problem with romance novels. It's always Scottish men getting the girls and if there are any Irish guys they're usually villains. Or drunk. Or drunk villains.

But his strategy for buying romance novels is this: He'll buy anything with a Viking, a kilt, or a title on the cover. So, the Viking duke displayed in a kilt would be his idea of the perfect romance novel for the store. We've taken bets on this. Viking Heat from Berkley Sensation was a book he bought against my recommendation. We had a $20 bet that it wouldn't sell in 6 months. He cheated and got one of our coworkers to buy it.
 [See, we could add snarky comments about this answer, but it's already both hilarious and sad.  We're sending the hate mail from the Scottish propagandists your way, though.]

 4. Have you ever posed for pictures with the Vulcan statue in Birmingham? How much would we have to pay you to make this happen?
I haven't posed for pictures, but I have knitted a scarf that is more than 4 times the height of Vulcan (including base). I'm special like that. As for payment to get a photo... get me a signed Nick Harkaway anything and I'll get you as many pictures as you want. [...Where the hell would you wear a scarf that long? We secretly think you just learned to cast off yet and so just kept knitting.  We love Nick Harkaway too.]

5. I’ve never read _____________________ and I’m so ashamed.
Hmm, there are tons of "great classics" that I've never read, but I don't actually feel that bad about it. I guess the thing that causes the most consternation when I tell people I haven't read it is The Hunger Games. [At some point Liz will lose it and turn this blog into a site entirely dedicated to what is wrong with adults reading children's and young adult books. High five for this answer.  Gianna: Um...we're supposed to be encouraging reading here?  Liz: No one reads this blog.  Gianna: Oh, right.  Rant away, my elitist snob pal.]
Fifty Shades fans,
wanna read something
REALLY dirty?

6. I’ve read ___________________ and I’m so ashamed.
I'm not really ashamed of anything I've read. I'm sometimes very very regretful that I wasted my time, but I'll own up to anything. Probably the most scandalous thing I've ever read was the Sleeping Beauty porn that Anne Rice wrote. I was waaaaaaaaaaaay too young to be reading that stuff and didn't have any idea what I was getting into with the first book. But after that I had to know how far she'd take it. Let me tell you, the Fifty Shades fans have no idea how far it can go. [You got that right.]

7. Liz or Gianna?
Always Liz! As a side note, we miss you!!!! [Excellent answer.]

8. What book(s) changed your life?
This one is difficult. On one level, I don't know that any book has absolutely changed my life. On the other side of things, I've read books that have become huge parts of my life in other ways. I read Robert Heinlein and became obsessed with him. Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry is probably the book that has had the most roundabout influence on my life. I read it and loved it. Then I contacted the author to do an interview for the LP website. He was very cordial and I decided to go to DragonCon (a huge sci-fi convention in Atlanta) because he was going to be there. Flash forward a couple of years and a few more DragonCons and I'm now one of the artists in this year's art show. So that's kind of awesome.
9. What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked by a customer?
"Do you have Shakespeare in English?" is probably my favorite. Although, "Can we borrow these or do we have to buy them?" is another good one.

10. What are you reading now?
An interesting question. I'm reading I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells in hardcopy, The Cat Who Went Up a Creek by Lillian Jackson Braun on my phone, and I'm listening to An Unmarked Grave by Jacqueline Winspear on my iPod. [You get multi-tasking bonus points if you're doing all three at the same time.]

11. Alabama or Auburn? (There is a correct answer to this question, that’s related to the school Liz’s grandfather attended.)
In so much as this question usually applies to sports and I don't care about sports, neither. However, in that I hold a degree from one of them as does my mother, and both my maternal grandparents - Alabama. [The correct answer is Auburn.  Sorry.]
A fat cat, a naughty read, and red sheets.
Sorry Sara, we already have a fat cat
lounging in our blog boudoir.
12. Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? If not, how much are you willing to pay Gianna not to read it to you?
I haven't. And I'm willing to pay at the very least everything in Drew's wallet to avoid Gianna reading it to me. If that's not enough, I've got a sizable cat I could throw in to sweeten the deal. 22lbs of fuzzy, purry, Fifty Shades avoiding feline... that's got to be worth something right? [Gianna: Wait--how much is in Drew's wallet?  I'm getting out my copy right now....]


  1. I think this was an excellent blog. The bookseller you interviewed is so intelligent and attractive. And yes, it's really all about the power.

  2. You interviewed Sara and gained a blog reader due to your excellent taste in subject material. Also? I'm a total book nerd, so there's that. Looking forward to delving into the archives and all of the future goodness.

  3. I just want to know what the answer was to the Shakespeare in English question!