LONDON (AP) — A British bookshop owner who asks customers for a 50-pence (62-cent) browsing fee has been branded "the bookseller from hell."
Steve Bloom, who runs second-hand emporium Bloomingdales in Hawes, northern England, says he makes the request to find out whether visitors are serious about buying books, but does not actually collect the money.
He also apologized for using an expletive in describing a customer who ignored the fee request as a pain in the backside.
John Blackie, chairman of Hawes Parish Council, said the customer complained — one of more than 20 complaints the local authority has received in the past four years about Bloom's entry fee and his rudeness.
Blackie said Wednesday that "bookseller from hell" Bloom was harming the reputation of Hawes, a community in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales that he called "very much a friendly town."
"He seems to have a strategy unlike anybody else's," Blackie said. "He charges 50p, people object and he is very rude to them. Yet he feels that improves his business."
Bloom said the council was overreacting, but acknowledged that he is "not really a people person."
Some customers who reviewed the store on the Yell website branded Bloom "rude," ''miserable" and "a disgrace" — though other commenters said the story about his behavior had made them want to visit.