The other day I went to a bookstore — which will not be named because they don’t need the advertising — to pick up some books and CDs that I’d been wanting but can’t get in Russia. When I checked out, my receipt had two coupons on it: one for 25% off any book, and one for 40% off a beverage in the cafe. These coupons were valid for just a few days, designed to entice you back into the store as soon as possible.

There was a book I’d been contemplating getting, but it’s still only in hardcover and I was having a hard time justifying paying 25 bucks for it when it’ll be cheaper in just a few months. But with this 25%-off coupon, I felt I could justify it. So today I went back to get the book, and of course used the 40%-off coupon to get my morning chai. In a way I’m a sucker, but I didn’t get anything I wouldn’t have gotten anyway. Still, I have to say, it’s pretty freaking brilliant marketing on their part.

When I got my chai I received a coupon for 30% off any paperback, and when I bought the book, I received yet another one. But this is where it stops. I can’t fit any more books in my luggage. So there, you sneaky literary crack dealer.

Later on I stopped by another bookstore, the International Language Center, not to buy more books, but because I like it there. I read an insane picture book called Eloise in Moscow, which is supposed to be from the perspective of a spoiled six-year-old British diplomat’s kid visiting Moscow in the 1950s. (Apparently it’s part of a series of Eloise books that I’ve somehow missed out on.) It was so incredibly weird. I advise all Russophiles to check it out.