I'm late on this, but lest the joys of retail be lost on those who've landed elsewhere, the Australian bookseller experience is pretty much accurate.
"Browse or buy? I had one guy come in three or four days in a row and read the same book for about two hours. Some fantasy. So, when he left on that fourth day, I said, "You know, there's a library just around the corner there." We actually like people to spend some time, that's why we have couches, but he was halfway through the book.
Confusing requests? A woman was buying a book for her mother's birthday and I asked what sort. She said "either a book on Elvis or some kind of lesbian anthology".
Dumb questions? The worst question I've had was "Which is the best book?" You sort of sit there dumbfounded."
These sorts of articles are pretty common, but I've never understood why oddball behaviour is any more illustrative of the human condition in bookstores than anywhere else. I'd imagine a hardware store is pretty good fodder for comedy as well.
Posted by David