Last week, I wrote a blog on The Changing State of Bookstores—and how today’s bookstores are more likely to have fewer books and more magazines, calendars, stationery, and other products, and act like libraries instead of traditional bookselling venues.
But during my research, I came across an interesting topic: bookstore etiquette. We all know the people: bookstore patrons who pluck a book off the shelf, sit down with a coffee and treat in the café, and read the book for twenty minutes…before putting the book back. Most bookstores seem okay with this type of behavior—after all, you don’t see employees shooing customers away or demanding customers buy the books prior to sitting down with them...But I’m not so sure about this bookstore etiquette.
Case in point: I love going to the bookstore and buying new books for…well, their newness. There’s something special about the smell of fresh ink, the unbent corners, the un-creased spine, the look and feel of a brand-new book. But when bookstore patrons take the new book and thumb through it while sipping on a coffee or eating a biscotti—and then put the book back—it takes the newness out of the book. Instead of unbent corners and a perfect spine, the books might be coffee stained or greasy from biscotti fingers.
Now, let me clarify: There’s nothing wrong with reading the first chapter in a book to see if you’d like to buy it. I do the same thing myself…outside of the bookstore café. But taking the book into a café and reading it alongside food or drink is another matter.
What do you think about this bookstore etiquette? Is it acceptable to read a book in a café without buying it?
Because if yes, I’m wondering how you would feel about a book that someone took into the restroom with them—like the Seinfeld episode years ago.
Handle books with care!