Monday, August 15, 2011

Bookstore Etiquette

Monday, August 15, 2011
So I was just at Barnes and Nobles today, along with everybody else. Every since the local B & N moved to the mall, it's the number one spot on rainy summer days. That's fine and dandy, and I'm glad they're getting business (since I will have nowhere to go to buy my book if it follows in Border's footsteps), but some of the people there were driving me bonkers. There are certain unwritten rules when it comes to book shopping, and these people were obviously never taught them.

Example 1: I had just found the book I was looking for (Juliet Immortal, if you're curious), when a guy reaches over and across me to pull a book from the shelf. No. No no no. You're not supposed to invade fellow browsers' personal space and that wasn't even the main problem. He, we'll call him Hipster Dude, was hitting on this girl he'd just met, and he wanted to show that book to her. And instead of moving aside once he'd gotten it, the two lovebirds just stood there talking, effectively boxing me in. When I finally got past them, they moved so that they were directly in front of a shelf I wanted to check out. They must not have known that the whole point of bookstore/library romances is to be alone in a sequestered corner, so it's like only the two of you exist. But no, they didn't seem to understand this, nor did they seem to understand that they were in anybody's way. So I ventured elsewhere in the store. Now, we've already covered that my luck percentage was pretty low, but apparently I was invisible, too, because another shopper walked right into me. He apologized and it's not that he was malicious, just oblivious. He really didn't break and rules here, so he's not an example, but it was embarrassing, especially since I was bumped right into a shelf and ended up awkwardly holding on to it to keep from falling down. Anyway...

Example 2: One person to one shelf. That's how it's done. You don't want to feel crowded or awkward reaching for a novel that's closer to another person. But this one girl walked right over to my shelf just as I was about to reach for a book. However, with her there, that was no longer an option. The correct way to handle this situation was the way one blessed rule-aware girl did. I was looking at a shelf that she wanted, but she didn't just elbow me out of the way like the aforementioned customer. Instead, she stood by a neighboring shelf, slighting adjusting her body to face me, letting me know that she wanted to look there, without being abrasive. And I, in turn, respected that and moved on. (I was right. She moved to that shelf a few seconds after I left. Another sign of an experienced book browser: She waited before moving in.)

And then, of course, there was the cafe. I like bookstore cafes, not just because they have coffee and free wifi, but because they're usually pretty serene. But, as I mentioned, everyone and their cousin was at Barnes and Noble. And every single person had to get their low fat- 1/3 cup skim milk- no sugar- latte. Instead of smelling the delicious smell of blueberry scones, all I could smell was yuppy. (Which smells a lot like the aforementioned latte and disdain.) Example 3: It's fine if there's only one other person in the cafe to make twenty seven requests for your coffee. (Okay, maybe not fine, but acceptable.) But on a day when there's a forty people line that's moving at -12 miles per hour, and you ask for some ridiculous order that they're all out of, and then when you say that you're fine with just having a plain black coffee, don't be surprised if you get dirty looks. A lot of them. And it's not nice to the hardworking people behind the counter trying to serve a plethora of impatient customers.

At the end of the day, I did get my book and a (not so) quick bite to eat, so it turned out alright. But if you're going book hunting soon, please, please, please, have a little respect for the rules. People will appreciate you for it.

(By the way, if you're wondering how things turned out with Hipster Dude, there was no way he was leaving without her number. The girl he was pursuing even tried to seductively lean against the shelves, which I think clinched the deal. Well, until the mob of kids ran down the aisle.)

What do you feel about these rules? Did you ever have a bookstore outing go awry?

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