Anyone who has read some of my previous posts knows about my love of bookstores and that I have a very nostalgic and intimate relationship with their smells of coffee and brand new books! For anyone who shares my sentiments, I think we can all agree that something strange has been happening at our local book browsing havens. No, I’m not talking about that random polka track that is in heavy rotation on the B&N radio station, but I have noticed a lot more people sitting on the ground amongst the shelves and in the aisles. Why, you might ask? Well for starters, there is nowhere to sit!
Apparently Barnes and Noble has become a standing room only kind of place…just like a crowded bar on game night. You find yourself balancing books and coffee instead of beer as you bobble from foot to foot trying to read the introduction of a book you MIGHT have wanted to buy if you hadn’t just spilled coffee down your shirt due to a circus-type balancing act.
This may be a little dramatic (or rather just a real life account of my formerly new shirt), but I must say it used to be nice to be able to put my purse, coffee, and other reading selections down for a moment to take a look and see what kinds of books I picked up. I am not one of those people who is going to occupy the seat for hours on end…make a few phone calls…write some Christmas cards…and eat my lunch in a retail store, but it would be nice to take a load off and enjoy being there.
After the whole hypothetical/not-so-hypothetical coffee spilling incident, I took to the web to see what people were saying about the mysterious disappearance of the Barnes and Noble “Comfy Chair,” or even those hard as rocks wooden ones. The most compelling argument I found against the chairs was on a message board posted by a B&N employee. The employee recounted several instances of people sleeping in the chairs, teenagers getting it on in the chairs, eating five course meals in the chairs, leaving crumbs in the chairs, and reading full novels in the chairs. These are serious problems for any store because when it comes down to it, it is a place of business, not a public library or park. When I worked in retail, reading an entire magazine then returning it to the shelf without paying for it would be considered stealing. I find that I couldn’t agree more!
It seems that just like most things in life, a couple bad apples spoiled the whole bunch. Or perhaps in this case, a couple bad book-worms spoiled the apple? Either way, it’s sad that those who just want to browse and enjoy a relaxing hour in the bookstore are either confined to the cold, hard chairs in the coffee shop or to a lone, crowded bench that resembles a city bus stop in a rain storm.
At the risk of sounding like an old, cranky lady, it’s disheartening to discover that my fellow bookstore geeks are sometimes so socially irresponsible that a company which generally welcomes the occasional loiterer like myself has had to go to such extremes as to remove chairs from their establishment. I guess I could always sit on the floor…but at the risk of getting kicked in the head…I might just resort to bringing one of those folding beach chairs next time I go.