Stand up for sitting down!
February 13, 2002 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Stand up for sitting down! Management at Indigo/Chapters (a Canadian bookstore mega-chain equivalent to Borders) is drastically reducing the amount of comfortable seating in their stores chain-wide. This committed group of activists isn't taking the matter sitting down. Show your support!
posted by scarabic (20 comments total)
Why is this a problem? What happened to purchasing a book and then reading it in the comfort of your own home?
posted by MegoSteve at 9:19 AM on February 13, 2002

This is tantamount to complaining that you were comfortable reading a book, and the store had the audacity to ask you to leave because they were closing. How about instead? (I'm biased, of course, because I work at B&N...but even if I didn't, I wouldn't have the temerity to complain about a reduction in seating.)

PS - Put the f'n book AWAY when you're done reading...we're not your mom!!! (Phew, I feel better already!!)
posted by byort at 9:30 AM on February 13, 2002

This is a hoax.

Indigo/Chapters is not taking away couches and the protest group is just doing some art school agit-prop stunt, trying to see how much attention they can get.

I got fooled, (sorta) the local daily got taken 100% and now I suppose they can add MeFi to the list.

posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:38 AM on February 13, 2002

You know, I try to be fair and see everybody's side on things when I can, but this... this is just dumb. It's a bookstore, not a library. It is a place of business, the only thing they owe their customers is a safe place to buy their product. The sofas were a nice perk for customers, but they've decided to end the promotion. Oh well. Of all the things people could spend their time protesting, being crybabies because they're not allowed to treat a business like a public library anymore falls far, far short of my activism support quotient for the month.
posted by headspace at 9:41 AM on February 13, 2002

Ok, the movement may be fake, but they really are taking away the sofas.

I was at Chapters recently, and there was nowhere to sit.

Next thing you know, I'll have to BUY my magazine, and take it home!
posted by spnx at 9:44 AM on February 13, 2002

i never could understand why barnes & nobles put the chairs in in the first place. Put them in the coffee shop part instead, where they are needed, people!
posted by bunnyfire at 9:57 AM on February 13, 2002

I'm sure people will still be able to sit on the window ledges... or the floor. The comfy chairs *were* nice, though.

The idea was probably - if they're too comfortable reading books here, they won't buy them to take home to read.
posted by Stuart_R at 9:58 AM on February 13, 2002

My major problem with the Chapters/Indigo chair removal is that the chairs, selection and their loyalty program were what made most people customers including myself. They took over the market and are pretty close to a monopoly bookseller now.

Suddenly the chairs are dissapearing, the loyalty program has been replaced with one that they claim is both new and improved at the same. New maybe. Improved? Only from their perspective as the total value of the loyalty discount has dropped 2.5%. The real capper of course is that their selection has declined as well.

I still visit the local chapters about 25% as often as I used to. It used to be a Sunday ritual to go sit have a drink and read some magazines and buy a book or two. Now I have smartened up and I use Chapters as a brick and mortar version of Amazon. I go and look at books then write down their details and request them using the local public libraries website. All for free.
posted by srboisvert at 10:06 AM on February 13, 2002

Their "spokesman" goes by the name Henry Chinaski - this was Bukowski's alter ego in many of his stories. Just another clue that it's a prank.
posted by luriete at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2002

Ironic thing about the Chinaski reference is, even in the biggest Borders, you're lucky if you can find more than one or two of Bukowski's books.

And if you can find even one of his poetry books there, it's a damn miracle. I laugh at how these so-called Super Crowns have a poetry section that comprises about 20 books - three of which are generally the likes of Shakespeare's sonnets, a Maya Angelou, an e.e., etc.
posted by tsarfan at 10:48 AM on February 13, 2002

Of course, one reason to sit and read in the bookstore without actually buying anything is so the Feds can't hunt you down like a dog for your reading habits.
posted by briank at 11:56 AM on February 13, 2002

as a borders employee, i feel obligated to note that our store carries the entirety of bukowski's published works (almost, as usually i snap one up and leave a space on the shelf). if it's not there, come see me and i'll order it right straight away. ALSO, our poetry section is host to at least a thousand titles. i get all my Neruda at our borders. should i note again that we can order anything for you? no shipping charges! (sorry for sounding like a salesman--i really think that borders is a great bookstore despite its status as a warehouse)

as far as the seating issue, i've noticed that compared to b&n, our store has far less comfortable seating throughout. i've observed that this results in longer lines at the cashiers in our store and much less recovery (reshelving) to do at night. which is nice.

however, it also results in a much larger stack of opened pr0n mags in the mens' restroom.
posted by carsonb at 12:12 PM on February 13, 2002

I *HAVE* to have my say. I'm Canadian and have shopped at Chapters/Indigo since they opened. All across Canada.

NEVER have I found it necessary to grab a stack of books, lounge on a couch and read them all day/night long.

This is the EXACT reason Chapters nearly went out of business, and Indigo purchased them. INSTEAD OF BUYING BOOKS, and large percentage of people in the store are treating it as a library.

It boggles my mind as to how long they have been able to stay in business. The stores always have tons of people, but the 8 cash registers are unused because the "customers" think it's a library.

I've had people "shsshh" my daughter and I, while I was trying to chase her down with a stack of books heading towards the registers. It's not a library, it's a place of BUSINESS.

Assholes, lazy, cheap motherfuckers.
posted by jkaczor at 12:44 PM on February 13, 2002

lazy, cheap motherfuckers.

you say that like it's a bad thing...
posted by signal at 12:56 PM on February 13, 2002

As an inveterate book-buyer, I appreciate Borders and Barnes & Noble, especially the former. Unfortunately, the little village I'm currently living in has nothing resembling a major bookstore (a decent small independent, but it only occasionally has something I want to buy).

Which is why, in addition to regularly visiting AddAll on the Web, I make regular pilgrimages to Chicago. Powell's! O'Gara and Wilson's! And my former employer, The Seminary Co-Op.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:56 PM on February 13, 2002

"you say that like it's a bad thing..."

Well, I guess it is a skill. It's one thing to do this occasionally, it's another to study for ones "xyz license" as I have watched people do.

It's the typical "I-am-the-center-of-the-universe" mentality. Oh, here's a good thing, hey it's free!, hey, how can I exploit this for all it's worth! Oh, my free ride is going down the tubes? I guess I'll find another.

But then again, people are getting used to "free rides", Napster, the web, bookstores turned into libraries, etc...

Making a store, or retail location sooooo comfortable that people hang-out there and begin to view it as a "public" space is not a good business practice, unless you are charging an entrance fee. In the last 6 months of 2000 when Chapters was really hurting, it was impossible to buy a decent book, they were grungy with thumbprints from being handled, read, re-read, basically begining to look not like new, but like typical used or library books.

Just as a non-internet cafe is more profitable than a wired version. Why? Volume, traffic and turnover. If you've got some weirdo surfin the web at $6/hr, but only buying a $1 coffee per hour, thats $7/hr. If you didn't have that "network" infrastructure and could turn that table over 4-times per hour at an average of $3-4 per turnover, that's the better deal to you, the business owner.

Replacing the couches, and comfy chairs with hardbacks ala most of the US-chains just makes sense. Enough comfort to review a book, but not enough to make one settle in by the fireplace (yes, some Chapters had'em) for the afternoon for a good read...
posted by jkaczor at 2:06 PM on February 13, 2002

Pet peeve: I just hate it when someone reads enough of a softcover book to crease its spine, then they put it back. They damage something that isn't even theirs. Ugh.
posted by MJoachim at 3:04 PM on February 13, 2002

Geez, is it you easterners that had all this trouble at Chapters/Indigo? I use the bookstore in North Van and can honestly say that while the chairs were in use, I never had anyone treat it like a library. Never seemed to be the case at the Robson store.

It's a clever hoax idea, but if you're trying to make it point, a good rule of thumb is to not piss off the media. Tends to erode support of whatever you're trying to do.....
posted by Salmonberry at 4:46 PM on February 13, 2002

it's a joke!
posted by Mick at 4:42 AM on February 16, 2002

Even though in theory I favor the indie coffee carts for anthopological and political reasons, I used to go to the Starbucks in my old neighborhood: it has tables, chairs and even a couple of sofas. Bu then it sells pastries and lunches has a high income clientele--my ex-girlfriend in Chicago tells me that most downtown Starbucks there have stools with canted seats, designed for coffee orders, short stays and high turnover. I suspect bookstores follow the same demographics in provison of comfort: if the ccustomers have enough disposable income, hey, linger, linger, they'll even put in lounge chairs and fainting couches.
posted by y2karl at 5:41 AM on February 16, 2002

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