Now That’s Customer Service… « Once & Future

Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

June 18, 2009

Now That’s Customer Service…

During CBC’s Canada Reads broadcasts earlier this year I could be found all over the internet championing what I thought was not just the best book on the list, but one of the very best Canadian books I have ever read, The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay.  I was totally devastated when it was voted off the program, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that Michel Tremblay is a rather prolific author and I would have a lot more of his work to read.

In particular I was pleased to see that Talonbooks, the publisher, was offering a Canada Reads special – all six books of the Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal in one handy package for a mere $75.  I went down to my local bookstore (also, my place of work) to order it immediately.  That was back in February.

I can’t report on exactly what happened after that, but it seemed that Talonbooks’ distributor, Raincoast, was having trouble locating the exact package deal I wanted.  Phone calls were exchanged and databases were consulted, and we were assured my order was in progress.  Time passed.  More time passed.  A lot of time passed.

I got the call, finally, a couple of weeks ago.  My books were in!  I hurried in to the store for my little darlings (paying $45 for the set – I work as a bookseller strictly for the discounts.  I am paid in product, I’m afraid.)  I only got around to opening the package today.  I think, now, I understand what took so long.  The package appears to have been lovingly assembled by hand by some industrious employee.  A band cut from a 8 x 11 sheet of printer paper secures the books with some help from a bit of scotch tape.  The cellophane wrapping is – I am fairly sure – Saran Wrap, also secured with scotch tape, liberally applied. The six books are pulled from the shelf in various states of shelf wear, some having been there for some time.

But I am thrilled none the less.  I suspect that with Fat Woman‘s early exit from the challenge Talon gave up hope of having a great bestseller on their hands and withdrew the special.  I’m sure they were surprised to get my order but, as good and honest bookpeople, fulfilled it anyway on a to-order basis.  Somehow I like it better this way – I am left with the distinct impression of having been personally served.

3 thoughts on “Now That’s Customer Service…”

  1. emilyineurope says:

    Hi! Have you read any of the other books in the series yet? I saw Fat Woman in a bookstore, had no money, moved, finally ended up having to order it from Amazon and completely loved it… one of my favourite books ever, and not just among Canadian books. I can’t believe it didn’t make it farther in the competition…

    I want to read the others too but shipping to Mexico is astronomical, so I was just wondering how you were getting on?

    1. Charlotte says:

      Hi Emily!

      I just finished reading the second book in the series, Therese and Pierrette and the Little Hanging Angel. It was wonderful, all I had come to expect of Tremblay! I’ll do a longer review on the blog shortly, but the extent of it is that we get a closer look at one of the storylines that Fat Woman introduced, and the result is more thoughtful, humane, insightful depictions of wonderful characters. It feels more personal than Fat Woman, but the context of Plateau Mont-Royal adds so much to the understanding of the new scenario.

      Good stuff – worth finding if you can.

  2. emilyineurope says:

    Hi Charlotte,

    Thanks for getting back to me, and I enjoyed your review. Definitely sounds like I’ll have to splurge and have these books shipped over. But, as you said in the review, maybe it’s not necessary to read them all at once!

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