Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Profile Of A Bookstore Guy

Texas Austin American-Statesman

BookPeople's Dan Nugent knows how to read customers
Customers call bookstore assistant manager
the Harry Knowles of his profession.

By Ricardo Gándara

So a customer walks into BookPeople looking for a book and she's sure the word "love" is in the title.

Dan Nugent, assistant manager for the state's largest independent bookseller and one of the most successful in the country, approaches the potential sale like this: "It's fun because you become a detective. You go by what you think the book is versus what the customer thinks it is."

He asks, "Is the book about relationships?"

It doesn't take him long to figure out the woman is after "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys."

For eight years over two stints (between which he worked at Waterloo Records), the friendly big guy with a penchant for making funny faces at babies has become a familiar face of BookPeople at Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard.

The Harry Knowles of books, some people call him. He's recognized for his expertise on history, but the lad from Shreveport, La., who grew up on a steady diet of the Three Stooges, the Bowery Boys and Abbott and Costello movies also loves music and follows longtime friends the Gourds, an alternative country band.

He's quite a know-it-all about old and bad movies, television and '70s and '80s pop culture.

"Just a whiz with all kinds of facts," says co-worker Katie Booth. "Bad B movies? He can tell you the director of movies you don't want to know about like 'Attack of the Nine Foot Centipede.' "

No such movie exists, but you get the idea.

"My head is full of useless, pointless information," he says without offering excuses.

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