Friday, February 15, 2008

Bookstore Etiquette

Some rules of thumb that can make the shopping experience better for everyone.

By Alan Eggleston, bookseller
Originally published on my BizBooksPlus.net blog on 6.29.05 by the same title.


Bookstores, especially large ones, have relaxed the rules of etiquette over the last several years. However, there are still some rules of thumb that can make the shopping experience at a bricks and mortar store better for everyone.

For instance, many people like to browse books before buying them. Some stores have caf├ęs and even let shoppers take books with them to the table. Yet, the more books you take off the shelves to browse, the fewer there are for other shoppers to browse. Bookstore etiquette asks that you only take a couple of books at a time, especially if they’re all from one topic area. Then everyone has a chance to browse.

In another example, some people go to the bookstore to get information rather than to buy a book. Although bookstores don't frown on information gathering, they aren't public libraries. It's certain that if everyone used the bookstore as a public library, bookstores couldn’t afford to stay in business. Bookstore etiquette says to browse books to see if they have the kind of information you’re looking for, but when you find the book or books with the information, buy them. Of course, you aren’t committed to buying just because you’re browsing.

Here are some other suggestions, most of them common sense:


Never use a book as a hard surface for writing notes. Writing on top of it will mark the cover, making the book unsellable. If you do it anyway, be prepared to buy the book. Otherwise, ask a bookseller for a hard surface.

Never write inside a book. Again, the book you’re browsing is for sale – would you want to buy a book that’s been marked up? Be prepared to buy the book if you mark in it in any way -- you mark it you buy.

If you’re going to put the book back on the shelf, try to put it back where it belongs. Most bookshelves are organized alphabetically by author. Bookstores are just as happy if you don’t put the book back in its place – leave it for booksellers, who will be happy to reshelf it.

Keep all the books in your care in good, sellable condition. In addition to the notes above, don’t bend covers back. It’s the same for paperbacks, with the addition that you should never curl the cover back.

Most bookstores have a children’s section, which often sell toys as well as books. They don’t mind your child trying out the toys, but remember that this isn't a play center. Allow your child to play with the toy to see if he or she wants to buy it, but then put the toy back for others to see. Play with only one or two toys at a time. And please keep the area orderly. Scattered toys are a nuisance for other shoppers and a danger for other children.

(c) 2005 e-Messenger Consulting Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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