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Bookstore Etiquette

October 31, 2014

lpThis isn’t precisely book related, but I wanted to talk a little bit about bookstore etiquette. Not necessarily when you’re coming in as a pure customer; Wheaton’s Law applies pretty universally in that case. What I mean is when you’re treating the bookstore like a coffee shop, as somewhere to hang out, use free wi-fi, or get some work done. And hey, maybe your bookstore has a coffee shop in it! So, you should apply general coffee shop rules to your experience. This is especially relevant since NaNoWriMo is coming up and you may be looking for more places to take your laptop/tablet/pad of paper and get some words down.

There are a million and twelve places you can go to see coffee shop etiquette, so I won’t belabor all those points, but here are the highlights as they apply to a small bookstore (big chains are a little different, but again, Wheaton’s Law applies.)
1. Buy something! 
Look, if you’re broke and you need somewhere to go, we totally understand. We’re not going to kick you out, but at least grab some coffee from our cafe or pick up a $0.75 newspaper. Acknowledge that this is a business, not your den.
2. Be Courteous
If you’ve got a cell phone call or you’re using our wi-fi to hold a video conference (although, really, you should probably be doing that in private) please keep your voice down. Don’t put your phone on speaker, and use headphones if you’re video conferencing. This isn’t a library, but we don’t want to be a captive audience for your entire conversation.
3. Clean Up After Yourself
Hey, we’re a bookstore. We have magazines and books and newspapers and all sorts of other exciting things to look at. But, we’re also not your mom or your maid. Please don’t leave the things you take out scattered all over the store. We’re not asking you to re-shelve everything, we are, literally, paid to do that. But, if you could stack things and put them on one of the carts, take them to a service desk, or even just leave things tidily on a table that would really help us out.
4. Limit Your Bandwidth
This is not the place to download  a movie or run your Carbonite backup.
5. Be Polite
Most bookstores don’t have any sort of tip jar for the employees, but you can show your appreciation by being polite. If an employee has to ask you to move, or stop using a store resource then comply gracefully. Don’t cause a huge fuss. Really. Don’t.
6. Limit Your Time
Please, don’t come in, settle down, and then spend 8 hours hogging one of our tables or our comfiest chair. That’s just not fair to everyone else who wants to come into our space.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2014 9:37 am

    “Acknowledge that this is a business, not your den.” This is advice people should take and apply to everywhere they go publicly. I love it!

  2. October 31, 2014 10:14 am

    Thank you for posting this. It annoys and amazes me when I see people huddled up in bookstores all day with their writing, homework, etc. It’s about time these rules were laid out for the world to see. Thanks again!

  3. November 7, 2014 9:23 am

    I love this post! People need reminders on how to just be decent.

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