Observations by Jess: Standing Room Only

EKTORP Chair, Idemo black Width: 41 3/8 " Depth: 35 3/8 " Height: 34 5/8 " Seat width: 22 1/2 " Seat depth: 19 5/8 " Seat height: 17 3/4 "  Width: 105 cm Depth: 90 cm Height: 88 cm Seat width: 57 cm Seat depth: 50 cm Seat height: 45 cm  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.

9 thoughts on “Observations by Jess: Standing Room Only

  1. LOL! I really enjoyed this post! Mostly because I understand what you’re saying. I’ll be honest I have thought about sitting and reading a book for a few hours, but I never do. Mostly because the chairs are already taken. I haven’t been to my B&N in a while but they had a specific spot upstairs that was purely for sitting and looking out into the courtyard. I’ll have to stop by and see if they have indeed gotten rid of the chairs. Sorry about your shirt, but when I read it, I literally yelled. “Right on the nose!”, because I have done that myself. Thanks again for the great read and I will join you on the beach chair strike.

  2. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  3. Very interesting Jess. I know in some of the B&N’s I’ve been to I’ve noticed this, however the one down by me in West Hartford, still has a plethora of the comfy chairs! In fact, when we first moved to town and didn’t have Internet, I’d go there and just hang out with my laptop feeding off of their internet in a comfy chair.

  4. My local B&N’s have removed the comfy chairs as well, they did it slowly. Over the course of a couple of months, everytime I went in, there would be one less comfy chair, until there was just one, and then it disappeared.

    I have to admit, I am one of those that would settle in and make an afternoon of it on my day off. But I always purchased something, either a book or one of their five dollar mocha’s. Still, I can’t blame them, I think most squatters didn’t purchase anything, and I saw many reading novels, breaking the spine, so no one would buy the book now, and they can’t return it to the publisher. I was always very careful with a book if I read it. And yes, people would sleep in the chairs, they didn’t fall asleep reading, they apparently drove to the bookstore just to plop down in a chair and go to sleep, very strange. There were also parents that used it as free day care, dropping their kids off in a chair with a pile of books while they went off and did whatever.

    It’s a shame, they need to do something to give people an experience they can’t get from just ordering a book from Amazon, and I think the idea was that if you sat around in there for awhile, you would feel obligated to purchase something. It worked with me, but I think most people abused the situation and used it as a free clubhouse. I miss the chairs, but I understand why they’re gone.

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