Is reading at chain bookstores no longer okay?
August 26, 2004 9:37 PM   Subscribe

Are large chain bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble now discouraging customers from lounging around and reading? The amount of comfortable furniture seems to have decreased over the years, and one Borders location had an employee unusually concerned about me finding what I'm looking for when I was sitting on the floor reading.
posted by Nikolai to Society & Culture (16 answers total)
 
I read somewhere that they were. Indigo/Chapters in Canada removed their chairs to discourage people coming there to read. See if I can find the article. Something about the wear and tear on books, and not being able to return them to the vendors.
posted by Quartermass at 10:47 PM on August 26, 2004


Which rather decreases their advantage over online outlets like Amazon. Some titles perhaps should have 1 example to examine, and the others wrapped. Maybe customers are being too picky about a bit of in-store wear.
posted by Goofyy at 11:06 PM on August 26, 2004


[obligitory comment advocating partonage of independent bookstores]
posted by Hackworth at 11:12 PM on August 26, 2004


every barnes and noble and borders ive seen has expanded recently with large cafe sections and tons of seating. most people i know go there just to read and not buy books and magazines. to the point of using it as a library, almost.
posted by c at 12:36 AM on August 27, 2004


I believe in partonage for everyone and everything. The more the world looks like Dolly Parton, the happier we will all be.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:39 AM on August 27, 2004


The Barnes & Noble where I used to work removed the comfortable chairs after one too many nights of struggling to get the homeless people who'd fallen asleep in them to leave when the store closed.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 5:55 AM on August 27, 2004


To what extent do local managers at these stores have some autonomy as to creating store 'environment'? I'd always assumed that the look & feel was dictated pretty high up a la Starbucks, but maybe managers have enough flexibility to create unpleasantness
posted by leotrotsky at 6:06 AM on August 27, 2004


I always try to buy at least a cup of coffee and sit in the cafe when I blatantly read about a $100 worth of books/periodicals in a sitting. Do my two dollars give me some kind of superiority over the random riff-raff? Hmm...
posted by Stan Chin at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2004


If you read fast and REALLY want to get the library feel going, you can take advantage of that (I think) 15-day no-questions return policy...

There was a Hastings in Moscow Idaho where I managed to read about ten books on $15.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:20 AM on August 27, 2004


"Maybe customers are being too picky about a bit of in-store wear."

Heheh. I was plucking fresh books and magazines from the back of the stacks long before B&N came to town.
posted by mischief at 7:52 AM on August 27, 2004


according to adam kempa's tales from working at bn, you don't really want to sit in those big comfy chairs. (because of what some folks do/spill in them.) maybe the big comfy chairs were getting too gross too fast? that seems a stretch, since they have never LOOKED nasty to my eye. but from what i remember, adam mentions the nasty factor of those chairs a few times.
posted by chr1sb0y at 7:56 AM on August 27, 2004


I've noticed a scarcity of furniture in the Chapters here in Canada, but definitely not an increase in "assistance". The model of doing business has similarities to the P2P debate doesn't it...
posted by juiceCake at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2004


There were comfy chairs in the front window of one of the chapters stores here. Maybe they have re-arranged the decor, heh, but they are gone. I thought the chairs were a bit of a gimmick or publicity stunt to show there was a new store, new things were happening, new ways of doing business. And there were always some damaged magazines next to the chairs. I'm not surprised they disappeared.

>struggling to get the homeless people who'd fallen asleep in them to leave when the store closed.
There's a story by Tibor Fischer where the main character wants locks himself in bookstores overnight and reads sitting in these comfy chairs.
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:46 AM on August 27, 2004


The suburban ones have more seating than the urban ones, in my experience. B&N has more comfortable seating than the others.

I always try to buy at least a cup of coffee and sit in the cafe when I blatantly read about a $100 worth of books/periodicals in a sitting. Do my two dollars give me some kind of superiority over the random riff-raff? Hmm...

I try to buy a book from them if I'm going to buy it. Unless it's really cheap online. :)
posted by callmejay at 9:02 AM on August 27, 2004


One thing I noticed at my former local B&N's is that the background music started to get louder and louder, to the point where it totally interferes if you're trying to sit down and read. My family and I always assumed it was for the express purpose of discouraging the readers. Never noticed any disappearing comfy chairs, though.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2004


Well, I work at a B&N. Can't speak for Borders or anyone else.

The short answer is no.

The long answer is, yes I hate it when we get 'moundbuilders', i.e. people who sit for 6 hours straight building a mound of books and magazines. It's rude. But it comes with the business. I've seen people sitting in chairs from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. Some people have no lives. That's ok. It's part of the business. You can't control customer behavior.

And as for 'background music' it's not 'background music.' It's instore play. B&N (most of them) has music sections, and so they play new CDs so that people will come over, ask about them, and possibly buy them. Has nothing to do with the readers. A large diversity of music is played, some of it not to everyones taste.

Also, the 'comfy chairs' are gross. I only sit in them when I have to, for meetings and such.

[obligatory comment advocating that chain bookstores employ local people, therefore are not 'evil' compared to 'independent' bookstores, and people who say they are are being assholes]
posted by geekhorde at 12:20 PM on August 27, 2004


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