An article in yesterday’s Post made me roll my eyes and sprained my brain. And the comments are causing me to want to pound my head on my desk. Would I pay to browse in a bookstore? Absolutely not.
Look, bookstores, lookie-lous and comparison shoppers abound; you aren’t the only vendor to suffer from online sales. What about your product is so special that you think charging to browse could save your business?
I like bookstores. But I go to them less frequently than I used to for a variety of reasons.
1. Lack of actual books in the store, as floorspace is given over to toys, puzzles, cards, gifts, etc.
2. Stacks and stacks of That Book and its copycats, but no books I’m interesting in reading on the shelves. Of course, the clerks tell me, if I would like they can order it for me and it will arrive in 7-10 days. Which is 5-8 days longer than it will take me to order it myself online, which defeats the purpose of coming to the bookstore in the first place.
3. The cafe is full of people camping out to use the free wifi, so even if I buy a book and a glass of tea, I can’t sit down and enjoy it there. None of the staff monitor the cafe, so… (I do like that the 5th Ave B&N is vigilant about its cafe seating.)
4. It’s often hard to negotiate the aisles, because patrons (and I use that word loosely) sit down in the middle of the aisles with selections to peruse.
Some commenters think the solution is to patronize independent bookstores, which assumes 1) that there is a local indie and 2) that said indie carries books I’m interested in. Which is generally not the case. Could they order the books? Sure…but first I would have to get the attention of the bored/disinterested clerk, who would then sneer at my reading choices since they are genre fiction rather than literary. Why should I support a local business that does not respect me as a customer?