Customers: browsing books, scanning shelves, standing in line to pay, tugging a book off the shelf, flipping a book over for back copy, fanning the pages, standing and reading, sitting in reading chairs, sharing a magazine with a friend, wandering the aisles, stalking the discount tables, sitting on the floor with back to a shelf, reading a book in the aisle, asking employees for help, looking books up on the computer, holding coffee cups. Shoulder-high bookshelves on the floor, tall bookshelves on the walls, round tables for books on display, corner/end displays, posters, banners, signs for reading sections, ads for store loyalty cards, author at a table doing a book signing, coffeehouse in-store, tables chairs, reading chairs and couches, windows, colorful book spines, books, novelty gifts (cards, mini-books, bookmarks, Cd's, DVDs, chocolates, pens, candy, seasonal gift items), bestseller wall, discount stickers, computers, registers, employees dressed in store shirts with name tags, colorful children's book section, staff picks section, gift cards, calendars, storefront displays, magazine racks, games selection, novelty books, puzzles
People talking, murmuring, asking employees questions, the ruffle of pages, the slide of magazine pages, the crisp turning of a single page, coffee barrista noises (blending, grinding, foaming, gurgling, tapping, steam, etc) barrista calling out an order, slurping coffee, people talking on phones, the low-level spillover from music on headphones, shoes clicking/clomping/shuffling/tapping/squeaking against the floor, the tapping of keys on a keyboard, scanner beep, till tape spitting out, the slide of a bank card, the slap of adding another book to the pile, the clunk of setting a book back on the shelf, the sigh of regret as you put a non-buyer back, the deep breath of excitement at finding exactly the right book, store music in the background, knees cracking at sitting/squatting too long, tapping a fingernail against a book cover, trying to decide whether to buy it
The woodsy/dry scent of paper and cardboard, coffee/teas/spices (Cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa) from an internal coffee bar, dust, hair products/cologne/perfume, magazine ink, air conditioning tang (if hot), dusty furnace smell (if cold), a waft of trees, grass, leaves and car exhaust when the door opens, pine (shelving), cleaning products (lemon, ammonia, pine)
Hot coffee or tea sipped from a cardboard container, fruit or coffee smoothies sucked thorough a straw, nibbling on a giant cookie, muffin, loaf slice, roll or biscotti as you page through a book, icing on fingers, water, gum, mints, licking some Cinnamon dusted foam off your lip from a cappuccino
Running a finger down a book spine, tugging the top of the book spine to pull it off the shelf, squatting to read titles on a low shelf, reclining back in a soft reading chair, paging through a book or magazine, flipping a book over to read the back copy, running fingers over a bumpy raised title on the cover, tilting the book cover to see a special effect, hologram or iridescent coloring on the cover, tapping a book against a free hand, deciding if it's a buyer or not, holding a book in both hands, comparing, juggling a stack of books, carry a basket heavy with books, shifting books to reach for the phone or wallet, tapping fingers on keyboard to look up a title, taking a slow meander through the aisles, sorting through bargain tables, visiting with an author doing a book signing, bumping into, squeezing past another customer to get to a shelf, waiting & shifting foot to foot for a turn to ask an employee a question as they help another customer, setting purchases down on a small coffee table, breaking off tidbits of a treat, then eating as you read, sipping at coffee, wiping lips with a napkin, crumpling cookie bag, reaching into purse or pocket for cash, stuffing a till receipt away in a pocket or purse, the weight of books pulling the handles on a plastic book bag, digging into palm
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
With the excitement of a six-year-old discovering one last parcel at the back of the Christmas tree, I scampered over to the last armchair in the reading nook and sunk into the soft, plush folds. Across from me, an elderly woman glanced over the cover of a steamy romance novel and took in my bulging bookstore bag. She nudged her own nestled at the foot of her chair and we shared a secret smile. After settling in, I pulled my newest purchase, Across the Universe by Beth Revis and inhaled the papery scent of a new story waiting to be discovered.
(and yes this really will be me when I can get my hands on Beth's book!)
Emily gave her customer a harried smile and handed off the bag of books. Then, before another person could fill the empty spot at her register, she ducked behind the counter on the pretense of needing more till tape. Crouching next to shelves filled with fliers, gift card envelopes and designer bookmarks for display, she closed her eyes, tuned out the jingling Christmas music, the loud buzz of conversation and the rattling receipt printouts. For one brief moment in her mind there was no endless line of grumpy, exhausted customers and no store loyalty cards to hustle. Instead she imagined her easy chair, an after shift tea in one hand and the TV remote in the other.
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
Near the discount table a ruddy-cheeked man hugged books to his barrel chest like grandchildren he hadn't seen in a long, long time.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
I scanned the shelves for a novel suitable for my three-year-old nephew's birthday. Every third book came with a puppet, stuffed animal or tiny tow truck. Christ on a cracker, was this a bookstore or the frigging toy department?