Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bookstore Slobs

Maybe someone can explain to me how bookstores like Barnes & Noble can allow their stock to be trashed by non-buyers on such a massive scale. I am always a bit amazed at the number of people sprawled out at my local store with magazines, books and newspapers all over their chairs and on the floor around them. It is bad enough that most of these folks don't bother to re-shelve anything - they do not even try to keep the products in good enough shape to sell.

There have been several instances in the last few months where I went looking for a specific title only to find that the only one in stock looked worse than something I might find at Half Price Books - for half the price. I will not pay full price for a book that's dirty or torn, Mr. Store Manager...not gonna happen despite your unwillingness to mark down the damaged goods. Don't try to buy an unsoiled newspaper in that store, either, where even the magazines are a hit and miss proposition.

Do these stores actually make so much money on over-priced coffee, drinks and snacks that they can cover the lost sales on the items they are really there to sell? Do publishers take back all those trashed books? I suspect that magazines and paperbacks still get only their covers ripped off and returned for full credit, but what is the deal on hardbacks and newspapers?

Anyone have the scoop?

Annie, are you out there? Cip, I don't mean guys like you...we're talking slobs here.


  1. Augh! One of our biggest pet-peeves, believe me! Basically, there's nothing we can do to stop them. We're as flabbergasted as you are by the behavior of some customers - actually I'm willing to bet it pisses us off even more.

    The coffee shop does bring in a significant number of people, so it won't be disappearing from the stores any time soon. My store actually got rid of all the "comfy" chairs and has been slowly getting rid of the other chairs too, but it doesn't stop anything.

    The literally lay across the aisle and could care less whose way they're in. And, like you said, they don't care what they do to the books either. They break the bindings, drop food/dinks in them, tear/bend the pages, etc. Kids books are even worse.

    And we lose money on it. We have to either give discounts (which corporate tracks and sends reports on - they don't like it) or send them back to the publisher, and we take a financial hit there. (The books are discounted to Bargain Books, destroyed, or donated, depending on the condition. Newspapers are recycled every day anyway; magazines get the covered ripped and recycled with all the others that aren't sold when the new issue comes out.) Not to mention that people aren't buying the books because they read the whole thing in the store - I've actually removed "bookmarks" from shelved books.

    But they're not doing anything illegal so we can't make them stop. If we catch someone tearing a book or something, we can make them buy it, but we can't stalk them to catch them - we don't have enough employees to stalk everyone that needs to be stalked and still help the other customers.

    We often talk about how people don't behave like that in other types of retail stores, but they don't think twice about it in a bookstore.

    Sorry this is long, but it's a hot button for me - I could've gone even longer.

    Short answer - we don't like it either, but we've yet to find an effective way to stop it.

  2. When I worked in a Chapters bookstore (Toronto, Canada, similar size and style to Barnes and Noble), we used to remove piles and piles of books and magazines from the store washroom (lovingly deposited on the floor in the stalls). Takes "soiled" to the next level, doesn't it. And they say Canadians are polite.

  3. Yep - usually unwrapped Playboys in the bathroom - there's no doubt why they were there, so cleaning 'em up was horrible.


I always love hearing from you guys...that's what keeps me book-blogging. Thanks for stopping by.