Publishers, As A Bookseller, I Beg Of You: Number Your Series
Throughout the years I have grown a lot as a reader, and to this day I am still divided between the fear of missing out, and this stubbornness of making a point of not reading what everyone else is reading.
Since I started working as a bookseller in 2020, though, I do try to stay on top of new releases, even if the publishing world is so vast, and there are so many new books coming out each week, all of which makes it almost impossible to keep up.
Like any other bookseller, I also get the occasional vague request for “a blue book about boats,” and although it is always tricky when the client doesn’t really know which book they’re looking for — and the info they have doesn’t seem to ring a bell — it is a joy to be able to actually find the book for them. Which I have managed to do a couple of times, I am happy to say.
And yet, while I think I have good knowledge of books, there are always themes and genres I am not as capable of helping with, because I don’t consume them, and don’t know them that well. One of these personal struggles is with book series.
I am not the biggest fan of series, and I even wrote about it for Book Riot. For some reason, I prefer books that allow for immediate closure without having to wait or rely on yet another release.
I am not against open endings, just as long as I know that the story is complete and that I can therefore try and make my peace with it. I’ve read a few series, and I have enjoyed them enough, but I will always choose standalones if I can help it.
In my line of work, however, I obviously do stumble upon, and get requests for, several series.
YA fantasy is perhaps the genre with the highest number of series out there, and this presents a challenge to me on two fronts: the fact that, as I said above, I don’t usually pick up series, and the fact that I am not the biggest fantasy fan either. But they are popular and people look for them regularly. The same happens with adventure series for kids, like the very popular Diary of A Wimpy Kid, or The 13-Storey Treehouse.
My own lack of knowledge in these areas leaves me with a very specific issue at hand: being unable to help customers properly when they are trying to find the right installment in a series. This is a damn shame, since it is something that could so easily be helped by publishers adding a damn number to the books.
More than once, I have found myself struggling to find complete information about several books, even with an online search. Which is frustrating, because I want to help customers properly, and I certainly don’t want anyone to go home with the wrong book.
And yet, somehow, a lot of publishers don’t seem to find it relevant to add a number to the books. At times, it isn’t even really clear that the book is indeed part of a series, and official publisher’s or author’s websites aren’t always up to date, nor do they always contain accurate, clear, and unquestionable information.
This leaves me rather shame-faced, with a sense I am not doing my job properly, and the costumer disappointed for not being able to figure out or be a hundred percent sure which book they should be ordering next.
Of course, especially with the tools we currently have available, a client leaving without the info they came in for isn’t something that happens often. But, if series were all numbered in the spine of the book, that would make my work — and the client’s search — go a lot smoother. I wouldn’t have to sheepishly use Google to try and find the right book, and customers with social anxiety, or who simply prefer to find things on their own, wouldn’t have to ask me a thing.
So this is a request, and a plea for help: please, please! add the book number to your series. It will look really nice in every bookshelf (check out Heartstopper and how cute installments look right next to each other, leaving no doubt about which book comes first and which comes last), and it will make a reader’s life — and this bookseller’s — a lot easier. Thank you.
Enjoyed this post? Check this one about the art of book recommendation, this one with the best book series for adults in every genre, or why everyone should read a book series out of order.