SAN FRANCISCO—After frowning at a screen for a full five minutes, the nation’s independent bookstore owners announced at a press conference Friday they unfortunately did not have that specific title in stock but would be more than happy to order it for you. “I’m afraid that one isn’t on our shelves right now; however, it is in print and, according to the information I have here, usually ships from the publisher within two to three weeks,” said 49-year-old James Lasalle, who, in unison with his 2,500 fellow operators of independent bookstores across the United States, reportedly muttered to himself for quite some time before looking up to explain that it was important for him to check on the computer in case the volume you asked about had simply been reshelved incorrectly by a careless browser. “If you want to give me your full name, address, phone number, email, and payment information, I can get started on your request and make sure it goes out with the batch of orders we’re placing next Wednesday. In the meantime, maybe I could interest you in the new Jodi Picoult? There’s a stack on the table right behind you.” At press time, sources confirmed the nation’s customers had placed the order with their independent bookstore and, just a few hours later, had grown impatient, broken down, and purchased a copy from an online retailer with next-day shipping.
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