February 14, 2019
Bookseller Spotlight: Chris Linendoll of Northshire Bookstore
by Melville House
Welcome to our first Bookseller Spotlight! Bookseller interviews have popped up in a few iterations over the years on MobyLives, we’re hoping to keep this series running.
Today we’re talking to Chris Linendoll, a bookseller at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY.
How did you become a bookseller?
I started my career at a Barnes & Noble in the early 2000s, after graduating college. I also worked at an independent children’s bookstore in Glens Falls, NY. That was a major learning experience for me, sadly, they closed during the Great Recession in 2010 or so. I spent a couple years working in manufacturing before returning to bookselling here at the Northshire in 2013.
What’s the most satisfying part of being a bookseller?
I love setting up displays, and featuring new and unusual books that might not normally get their time in the sun. So seeing a customer pick one of those diamond-in-the-rough titles is always super satisfying. My secret hope is that some authors see a small little uptick in their royalty checks and say to themselves “who the heck is handselling my book out there?!”
What’s your favorite book to handsell?
I love pointing people towards titles like The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid, and The Book of Lost Things by John Connoly. Just really dark, experimental fiction that breaks some preconceived notions or boundaries. I also enjoy pointing people towards exciting non-fiction like The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, Manhunt by James Swanson, and Do Not Sell at Any Price by Amanda Petrusich. I love books that explore people on the fringes, or dive deeper than you might expect.
What’s the most difficult book to handsell?
Honestly, I’m not great at handselling things I haven’t read, so I struggle a lot with some of the more mainstream literary fiction. We have several booksellers on staff who’ll pretty much only read those titles, so I leave that genre up to them for the most part. So when it comes to asking me about bookclub suggestions, I’m actually a little out of my element. I don’t think most people would be into the fiction I read.
Do you have a favorite Melville House book?
I think Strange Stars by Jason Heller was super interesting. I grew up just as grunge was breaking big, so all that sci-fi glam rock was something I experienced way past its own era. Looking back, it’s incredibly cool to see the parallels between the explosion of science fiction and rock and roll.
I also read University of Nike by Joshua Hunt a bit ago, and it features some fantastic journalism. For all the attention Shoe Dog got this past year, I think this title provides an interesting companion. There’s a lot of unsavory business in the college athletics programs out there.
Is there anything you wish customers knew?
I think customers sometimes think bookselling might be “hardly working” but sometimes the hardest work is done on “off-days.” Booksellers kill themselves (and their backs!) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so that the store looks clean, presentable, and easily shopped on those busy Fridays and weekends. Also, we gladly accept baked goods.
Do you have a favorite story from your time as a bookseller?
Since opening here in Saratoga, we’ve got quite a few colorful characters. These might be stories best shared privately.
Although, I would like to say that some of our regulars, like my boy Joe here in Saratoga, put a smile on our faces every single time they stop in.
Are you a bookseller? Do you know an excellent bookseller? Reach out to [email protected]