I’d like to welcome you to the first entry of the Between The Covers Blog. My name is Matt Histand and the powers-that-be have put me in charge of this new endeavor. In the coming days, Tom Congalton, Dan Gregory, and myself will take turns posting new entries on a weekly basis, so please check back with us every Tuesday to read about the doings here at BTC, and occasionally the topic of bookselling.

So who am I? Someone who sold Tom a couple books a few years ago and had been looking for a job ever since. Fortunately for me, my want for a job finally caught up to BTC’s need for a new employee and I was hired. My desk is actually pictured on the BTC website here. It’s the one labeled: “Tom’s office.” It’s sort of hard to see under the piles of books, but you can spot it if you look for the empty chair. My desk has since been cleared off. Corey Bechelli, who lays out our catalogues, sits on the other side of the white shelves, along with Dan Gregory.

Tom’s desk is just a few feet away by the windows, not that I’ve seen it in my two months here. I know generally where it is because I can see Tom’s head above the pile. The clutter bothers Tom – at least in relation to my more Spartan workspace – because he’s tasked me with chiding him from time to time about cleaning up his desk. It usually goes something like this:

Me: Tom, you should clean up your desk.
Tom: Clean up my desk?!
Me: Yes, it’s cluttered and you told me…
Tom: You eyeballing me boy?!
Me: I’m looking at you.
Tom: I said, are you eyeballing me?!
Me: I guess so…
Tom: Never look me in the eyes.
Me: Ok…
Tom: I’ve been a bookseller for over 25 years. You’re just a guy working for me. Never tell me what to do and never look me in the eyes!
Dan: Maybe you should leave Matt alone.
Tom: What?!
Dan: Maybe you should cut Matt some slack…
Tom: This isn’t a book fair, Dan. You speak only when spoken to. Now don’t you have some pictures to take?
Dan: Yes, Mr. Congalton…
Me: You should clean up your desk.
Tom: You’re fired!
Me: Then you’ll have to scan those books yourself.
Tom: Well, I guess in that case, you’re hired again. But from now on call me Emperor!

Okay, that’s not really how it goes here. It’s usually more like this:

Me: Tom, you should clean up your desk.
Tom: Jolly good. Thanks for reminding me, dude.
Me: No problem.

You can see the lack of drama in that exchange. Actually, there’s not much drama of any kind here. Both Dan and Tom are very even-tempered – though Tom does get a little grouchy when he has to handle a reprint. And Corey just cruises along on a sea of calm. It’s a big change from previous jobs, I can tell you that.