Ode to a Bookstore Death

This from Galleycat:

As Borders closed forever this weekend, one patron snapped a photograph of a bitter bookseller’s manifesto at an unidentified store: “Things We Never Told You: Ode to a Bookstore Death.”

So funny!

20 commentaires:

Todd said...

Ha that great! Having worked at 3 different Borders in the past, and a B&N, I found most of that list very true and very funny.

Baptiste said...

That was one funny read indeed.

I admit I also got confused by this one :
"It confused us when we were asked where the 'Non Fiction' section is".

I have to wander what these people were actually looking for.

Stephen J. said...

Wow. And they wonder why they went out of business.

Rejecting destructive or disruptive customer behavior, in the store itself, is one thing. Condescension and contempt for your customers' opinions and questions is something else entirely.

"Things We Never Told You"? Maybe; but don't fool yourself for a second that they weren't also "Things The Customers Noticed Anyway".

Luis said...

Great post! And oh, how I will miss Borders! I bought many, many books there over the years.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Stephen J above.

If this was what their staff was like, oh boy...

Anonymous said...

I worked at a Borders store and we closed in December. I agree with most on this list. Working at Borders caused me to lose my faith in humanity. People are dumb.

Anonymous said...

As a B&N employee, I would like to disagree with the point about coming to Barnes and Noble instead. We don't want Borders' problem customers. :-(

I have fantasized making a list like this before, except it'd be a little longer and include gems like: "If you call me multiple times on the store line to have me fetch books for you when you are sitting down in a different corner of the store and don't want to move do not be surprised when I eventually become enraged" or "If you can't be bothered to take your headphones out of your head at the checkout you had better not complain later when you didn't get the thing I asked you three times if you wanted."

Jean Francois said...

So true, so true. 15 years working in a bookstore and counting. Its and awesome job and there are always awesome customers. But what we remember the most? yeah, the worst one.

And everything on this list is true. Really.

You might be right Stephen J., Its not something you tell your customers, but at some point, it get annoying.

Questions like :
- I saw a book a few weeks/months ago and it was on that shelf.
- I'm looking for a book that has the text printed in purple.
- I dont know the title, author and genre, but i know tidbits about the story, can you find it for me ?
- I'm looking for a book.
- I saw this great interview on TV. i dont remember who did the interview, on which channel or when it was, but can you get me the book ?

And the list goes on, and on. Those are questions that takes a LOT of our time, and most of the time, there isnt just one customer in the store, we need to help the other customers too.

That list did make me laughs.

Sad to see that B&N closed.

Xenophon said...

Sounds like allot of bitchiness from both sides of the counter. This is why I now buy books exclusively online and use inter-library loan.

I used to frequent many used book stores trading old books for credit then getting other books. But now, all the used book stores have a half-cash/ half-credit policy. Selling books that are overpriced when compared to the same titles online. And most also have poor customer service to boot.

They are only shooting themselves in the foot and losing business. Keep it up and bookstores will go the way of the photo-mat

Anonymous said...

I too was a book store slave for many yeras..The "Where is the non-fiction section?" That ALWAYS got me...I mean really..I got it ALOT and couldn't believe people were that dumb. It seems it was more widespread than i feared =/

Chris said...

You people worked in a bookstore for the love of Pete...It's one step on the IQ scale (MAYBE) above being a barista at Starbucks.
The fact of the matter is that most of your customers were probably twice as smart as you...Now go make me a latte before Amazon figures out a way to make you irrelevant in that field too.

West Side Blogger said...


Anonymous said...

@ Stephen J, Xenophon, Anonymous # 1& Chris.

As someone who works in a library (as a shelver) I can assure you that a) it is far from easy to put up with/be constantly exscusing the idiotic behaviour of patrons, b)ALL THESE COMPLAINTS GO FOR LIBRARIES TOO - and given the existence of NotAlwaysRight.com probably every job which involve actual interaction with customer - I could easily recount the myriad examples of stupidity 'I knew the classmarks were alphabetised but not that 'R' would come after 'QZ', disrespect 'what do you mean you close 5 minutes before 9? I though you closed at 9 - I don't care what the sign says; I'm going to make a complaint about all of you!' and lack of hygeine - pile of squashed ants, used tissues, half eaten food left in overheating computer-rooms.

@Chris particularly; I work in a highly rated university library specialising in medicine. By definition everyone who uses the library is at least book-smart and often a good decade or two older than me. They still make these mistakes, moreover my reason for working there as with much of the service industry is because it is the recession and I am only going to start the acquisition of higher education qualifications in October having started the job at the beginning of my Gap Year.

Finally, regardless of IQ ( a narrow and skewed system of ranking intelligence anyway) politeness and consideration are universal whether you consider the person you are interacting with intelligent or not.

Caligula_k said...

Stephen J:

I have worked in many bookstores (not Borders), and we all complain about idiotic customers (in fact, looking at that list, my reaction was: Yep, yep, yep, yep, YES, yep, yep). If you're going to ask for us to find you a book based on what colour it is, we will serve you with smiles on our faces, but then you are going to be made fun of as soon as you leave, no matter what bookstore you're in. Working in customer service, you often get treated like shit. Mockery is the only healthy way to cope.

Sorry to see Borders go. Being in the book industry isn't easy these days...

Russ said...

It's called customer SERVICE for a reason and many businesses fail because of a lack of it....and not everyone is cut out to provide it.

I stress this to my associates at work all the time. If you do not give people, even the dumb and aggrivating ones, good customer SERVICE everytime, they will search for that SERVICE somewhere else....and you will shortly be looking for another job.

Leaf said...

I still don't understand what they're trying to say with the non-fiction complaint.

Stores tend to lump fiction together with other fiction and non-fiction with non-fiction. Libraries label sections as fiction/non-fiction.

So why is it weird if a person asks where the non-fiction section is?

Pabkins said...

Freaking awesome list! gave me a great chuckle!

Anonymous said...


"Excuse me, could you show me to the non-fiction section?"

"Well, that's most of the store. Can you be more specific? History? Mathematics? Education? Business? Religion? Etc."

Though, some will debate the fiction/non-fiction of religion. One night my co-workers and I found that some dude put a bunch of bibles scattered throughout the fiction section.

Anonymous said...


Do you have any reason to believe that the employees who wrote that sign didn't give good customer service up until the point that the ship was going down? (There are a lot of reasons Borders is going out of business but I have no reason to believe that poor customer service is one of them.)

Working in a bookstore I plaster a smile on my face while talking to a customer and try to help them to the best of my ability. Then when they are gone I turn to a fellow bookseller (out of earshot of customers) and mock mercilessly. If another customer hears an unreasonable customer and tries to mock them, I don't join in. For all I know the second customer might be a secret shopper of some sort (our district manager likes sending those out).

However, my store is also pretty strict about how much leeway I can give a customer. If the customer is going to take up so much of my time that other customers won't get helped (e.g. the ones who expect you to spend about twenty minutes being their personal shopper), I'm supposed to call a manager to step in. If a customer crosses the line of appropriate behavior (e.g. no touching), I call a manager. Knowing that store management will back me up if necessary takes some of the stress out of my job and allows me to give better customer service to the 98% of customers who aren't a huge aggravation.

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