Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Redesigning the Bookstore

Today is sort of a rant day. Read on and let me know if you agree or disagree.

I think bookstores should have comfy chairs to sit in.

I know comfy chairs are sort of a new thing. Used to be, you went into a store, walked the aisles of books, picked out what you wanted, then checked out and went home. And I know some stores, like the tight ones in the mall or at the airport, don’t have room for chairs. But the new big chain bookstores and the older independent stores should have chairs, in my opinion. And not just one or three – those get taken up by chatting teenagers. I’m talking chairs. Ones you can sit in and peruse a book to see if you want to buy it.

Now, you may say the big stores do have chairs. Why, the one close to you has ten chairs. But that’s not always true.

Earlier this week, I went into a brand spanking new mega bookstore and found several things I didn’t like, among them the chairs.

Let me set this up for you. The store has two main doors, on opposite ends of the store. At what is considered the front of the store, there are a few parking spots on the street. At what I would call the back of the store (when you enter here you’re in the music/video section of the store) there is a parking area. Since parking in the front of the store is not terribly easy considering to get there you have to drive through something of a maze, including a driving circle, one-way streets, and pedestrian traffic. So I parked in the back.

I had called ahead and had them hold a cookbook for me.

So I had to walk from the back of the store to the front of the store to pick up the book from behind the checkout counter. This seemed to be another flaw – only one checkout area for a big, two-doored store. Anyway … I got the book, then started walking back as I looked down the aisles on either side for a chair to sit in to look at the book. I was almost to the back of the store before I found four chairs around a small table. Three of them were available. So I sat. It was comfortable – good news. But only four chairs for this huge store? To be honest, there may have been others, but I didn’t see them.

I ended up deciding I didn’t want to buy the book, since I only saw one recipe that really interested me. So I restocked it on the shelf.

Now, if I had wanted to buy it, I would have had to go back to the front of the store and pay for it, then walk through the store to the back to leave. Okay, it’s not the walking that bugs me, just the inconvenience. You know, the little things. Like chairs.

I want chairs scattered throughout the store. Some grouped together, some solo. Comfy chairs. I’d even like a few with tables that you could use as a desk or to put your notebook on to make notes. Now maybe stores are worried that you’d sit and read all day and not buy. Or maybe that you’d copy that one recipe rather than get the whole $40 book.

But I say, if I’d had a table to sit at, I might have pulled out several cookbooks, compared them, and bought one. If I’d had a comfortable chair, I might have gotten several new authors and read the cover blurbs and first pages and bought one or two.

Chairs do encourage reading and a bookstore is not a library. But I say chairs also encourage buying and coming back to the store again and again. Let’s hear it for big comfy chairs!

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