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No More Chairs for You Says Bookstores

Bookstores are scaling back on the comfy chairs because they feel too many people are lounging around and not enough people are buying the books. Shelf Awareness pointed out an article in the Baltimore Sun by Rob Hiassen that bookstores are reducing “soft seating” because of “homeless squatters, overly enthusiastic young lovers, food trash left behind.”

Borders has eliminated 30% of the soft seating replacing it with benches and backless stools because they are finding many people are staying for hours but not actually buying books. Some are reading entire books while at the store and then leaving a mess behind.

Barnes & Noble hasn’t reduced the “soft seating” yet because it believes that bodies in the chairs means eventually sales at the register. Mitchell Klipper, COO of Barnes & Noble,says. “Let them read all they want. We encourage them to stay a while. They will show up at the register eventually.”

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Wendy
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 16:27:14

    Welcome to the world of libraries *snort*

    My gripe about comfy chairs in bookstores are the people who sit there all day, read the entire book, don’t buy it, then put it back on the shelf after they’ve bent the spine all to poop. I go into a “new” bookstore to buy books that look NEW! Not ones that look like they’ve been read by a small pack of wolves. But I’m anal retentive that way…

  2. Nonny
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 16:51:52

    And what about those of us with back problems that can’t sit on stools or in hard chairs without incredible pain? I don’t normally sit in a bookstore but sometimes I have to stop and rest a bit when I’m hurting bad, or if I get a latte at the cafe, I want someplace comfy to sit, thank-you-very-much.

    Getting rid of comfortable seating isn’t going to make the “squatters” buy books. They may go away — or they may not. But it’s also going to make those of us who really need a soft chair go elsewhere.

  3. Rosie
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 18:40:37

    “…overly enthusiastic young lovers,…

    This is a big problem in my B&N and frankly annoying because they usually don’t have a book or magazine, just lots of enthusiasm. I was young once, but sheesh!

  4. AAR Rachel
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 18:50:36

    I can’t imagine having the time and leisure to read a whole book while sitting in a bookstore. I think that at one time I did have that, but…well, it’s gone, out of memory even.

    However, if I did have that time and I did read that book, in its entirety, I would feel completely obligated to purchase it. Even if I was completely careful and read it with gloves on and never cracked the spine. (This is practically the way I read my own books anyway.) I mean, I wouldn’t go into a 7-11 and drink a whole slurpee straight from the fountain and expect to walk out of the store without paying.

    The thing is, this kind of you-owe-me behavior is a staple of American life these days. No consideration, no sense of the other person, the person who comes after. I saw it all the time as a librarian, and I see it everywhere else – malls, restaurants, playgrounds. All rights, no responsibilities. I don’t blame the bookstores for getting rid of the cushy seating. Why should they have reserved seating for freeloaders and unmonitored children and teens?

    Man, I sound like a grouch, but clearly some people were not properly parented!

  5. CindyS
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 21:37:18

    I usually end up sitting on the floor in the romance aisle. The number of people who find that cozy chair and then sit for hours are ignorant. I’ve often said that Home Depot should have cozy chairs for the wives that have to tag along with their husbands. So I’m normally upset when my hubby can’t find a chair to sit in while I look through the books and prepare to purchase a hundred bucks worth of books! It’s amazing how my book shopping sprees have been cut short by a hubby who is tired of wandering around. He’ll also come around and share with me the number of people who are hogging the chairs and the bagged lunches they are now eating. Grrrr.


  6. Kay Webb Harrison
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 21:46:04

    When I developed arthritis in both knees, shopping became agonizing, because when I stopped to examine an item, my legs would ache from standing still. I purchased a rollator, which is like a walker, but has four wheels and a SEAT. When I use it, I am able to balance much better than when I use a cane; and I can browse bookstores comfortably again. I can sit in front of a shelf unit instead of standing.

  7. Emily
    Jul 26, 2007 @ 22:27:56

    What I hate is people who read the books in the cafe them put them back nasty. Ew.

  8. Keishon
    Jul 27, 2007 @ 08:53:51

    I can’t read a whole book in the bookstore. I like to be in my comfort zone. I may start a few pages and if I really like it, I’ll go buy it. B&N near me have a lot of seat hoggers but they are usually by students and I was a student once and did the same thing and plus they are a Wi-Fi Hot spot. It’s good to know that B&N are not going to abandon their comfy seats.

  9. LAmonkeygirl
    Jul 27, 2007 @ 10:59:32

    I worked at a B&N for about seven months, and noticed a few things:

    -People confuse the bookstore with the library. Several people asked if we had a photocopier so they could make copies of pages from books. One woman even asked if she could take a book out of the store, make copies at a nearby Kinko’s, and then return the book. Without purchasing it.

    -I will never sit in a “comfy” public chair again after observing not only transients camped out in them, but the sheer number of people sitting in them for hours, eating, leafing through books and magazines and then leaving them in a pile after they were finished with them, sleeping, sweating, breathing, &c. The chairs are upholstered, making them into enormous sponges that soak up the dirt and “life essence,” if you will, of hundreds of people. And they are never cleaned.

    -The folks who sat in those chairs for hours or even all day seldom bought anything, but, in fact, left behind a ridiculous amount of detritus for the staff (whose pay is just over seven dollars an hour) to clean up. On a side note, the children’s section of the bookstore was by far the worst, as none of the parents cleaned up after their kids and left books, toys, food and other germ-laden items strewn about like a preschool had exploded.

    I have more rants related to working in a bookstore, but I will save them for some other occasion.

  10. Ann Bruce
    Jul 27, 2007 @ 14:24:46

    First, who are these people who have the time to read an entire book in a bookstore?!? And why ain’t I one of them? (I just want to have the time, but not actually use it to read in a store.)

    Second, I can’t read more than the blurb and the excerpt in a bookstore. Any more and I feel like I’m stealing. (I’m Catholic, guilt plays a big part in my life.) If I’m going to read a book without paying for it, I use my public library.

    I no longer shop at bookstores that allow people to sit and read their books. I’m anal retentive to the point where I refuse to buy used books. (Made an exception for the early Iris Johansen books that are OOP and appear to stay that way. Even then, I sanitized and covered them in self-adhesive plastic.) So I’d be pretty ticked off at paying new prices for a book someone else has already put grubby hands on.

  11. Angela
    Jul 28, 2007 @ 06:44:48

    I’ve read entire books in the bookstore before–but I always purchased them since I’m not going to waste a few hours reading an entire book if it sucks and I never want to see it again.

    But I always sit on the floors because I’m used to doing it at home.

    And YUCK Lamonkeygirl–I never thought about that. Thank God I turned down a job at B&N if that’s what the employees have to go through. And I thought Wal-Mart was bad…

  12. Farrah Rochon
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 18:57:19

    I hope B&N eventually catches a clue. I’ve had to searched through copies of popular books in order to find unread ones. Get a library card.

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