Interview with Angie Sanchez from Old Town Books

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
Anywhere that the white ladder is. I’m short, so it always comes in handy and I can have my own Beauty and the Beast moment on the daily.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
I’m a sucker for shiny foil on covers, so Piranesi by Susanna Clark is one of my favorites. The paperback is still pretty, but I especially love the hardcover because when you take off the (also beautiful) dust jacket, you see that the title is etched into the book in gold. I also love the cover of Elatsoe by Little Darcie Badger, with the teal blue foil on the title and the movement of all of the pups in the background. Both of these books are also fantastic reads.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
New release: Fault Lines by Emily Itami. It has a fabulous Sex and the City vibe, but it’s set in Tokyo with a Sally Rooney-ish narration – I LOVED it.
Back list: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I would call this dystopian fiction, but it’s more accurately a way too scary look at the direction that our world is going in with one of the strongest protagonists in fiction. This should be considered essential reading at this point.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?
Ha, so many. Book people are weird people, ya know? Myself included. But I think one of the more recent ones is a customer who seemed just a little *too* excited to find the book Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom and started talking to us about how his girlfriend, who’s a mortician, should get into this. The book is about the history of using human skin for bookbinding.

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
I virtually got to meet Mira Jacob at an event that the bookstore hosted and the wonderful Lupita Aquino moderated. I was a nervous mess but Mira was as cool as a cucumber and so kind.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
It’s still a retail job and comes with all of the physical and emotional labor as other retail jobs. Some people think all I do is sit behind a counter and read all day, when in reality I’m lugging around boxes of books, receiving new inventory, processing orders, and doing a lot of other behind-the-scenes work. Bookselling has fun aspects to it, but at the end of the day it’s still a job that shouldn’t be romanticized 🙂

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
My least favorite part is running boxes of books up and down the stairs haha, books are HEAVY. Also dealing with rude customers in a pandemic who won’t comply with face mask policies.
My favorite part is giving out book recommendations and then having the customers come back and tell me how much they enjoyed said recommendations.

Angie Sanchez is the assistant manager at Old Town Books in Alexandria, VA.