Used and Abused

On a recent visit to Barnes and Noble, I witnessed book and magazine mistreatment that drew my ire.  More than a few patrons were snuggled up on the various chairs and sofas flipping through books and periodicals.  This alone didn’t bother me too much, and I even managed to suppress a grimace as one man licked his finger while flipping the pages of an apparently riveting Maxim magazine.

It was when that same man took a sip from a steaming cup of Starbucks coffee and placed the dribbling cup on top of a pile of books that I nearly lost my mind.  Now I’ll be the first to admit my OCD book habits–I wouldn’t dream of dog-earring my pages and could never bring myself to leave books face down to hold my page–but this behavior went above and beyond typical book browsing.

I lingered a bit more to see if he would purchase the book with the small coffee stain but never saw him do more than make a few additional trips to fortify his cache of magazines.  I imagine that he left the store without making any purchases, leaving the well-thumbed copy of Maxim behind, too.

I know it’s not my job to police browsers and shoppers at the local bookstore, but I just couldn’t help myself.  This blatant disrespect for merchandise really annoyed me.  My husband agreed, but in his zen-like way explained that I can’t control the behavior of other people, only my own response.  (Thank you, Dr. Phil.)

At the end of the night, the lightly stained book was probably re-shelved for an unsuspecting shopper to purchase. When I buy a new book, it’s reasonable to expect that it’s in new condition.  I shouldn’t discover stained pages from a previous browser’s sticky fingers after I get it home.  Is it really so much to ask?


  • At 2010.10.09 20:13, Jenners said:

    That is just wrong!! It bothers me on so many levels–not only the disrespect for the book itself but for merchandise you HAVEN’T PURCHASED!
    .-= Jenners´s last blog ..Book Review- Everything Is Going To Be Great by Rachel Shukert =-.

    • At 2010.10.10 00:29, Coffee and a Book Chick said:

      That just annoys me!! And knowing my luck, I’d be the one to pick up that book and buy it, not knowing until much later…argh!!
      .-= Coffee and a Book Chick´s last blog ..Deweys Nine Lives – by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter =-.

      • At 2010.10.10 08:44, bermudaonion said:

        I agree with you and your husband both! Some days I wonder what has happened to common courtesy. When I think things like that, I really feel like I’ve gotten old.

        • At 2010.10.10 09:15, Lenore said:

          I wonder if an employee would have made that man buy the book he ruined had they seen such abuse?
          .-= Lenore´s last blog ..Book Review- Take Ivy by T Hayashida =-.

          • At 2010.10.10 10:29, Chrisbookarama said:

            That’s just rude! I would be so mad if I bought that book. It’s no longer new; it’s used. I’d want a deep discount.
            .-= Chrisbookarama´s last blog ..The Princess Bride Readalong- Milestone 2 =-.

            • At 2010.10.10 15:25, rhapsodyinbooks said:

              I feel totally the same, and see it a lot in both B&N and Border’s. I can’t imagine being so inconsiderate and rude, not to mention cheap!
              rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog post ..October 9- 1940 – Birthday of John Winston Lennon

              • At 2010.10.10 17:30, Ti said:

                I have been known to return books for the same reason. I give them a cursory glance before purchase, but if I am reading and come upon a stain or tear then watch out. Back it goes for a prompt exchange.

                This irks me the most with children’s books. The ones that have pockets and things to open. Those books should have one sample that’s open and then rest should be shrink-wrapped for protection.
                Ti´s last blog post ..The Sunday Salon- The Farmer’s Market- The Pet Fair and Stuff

                • At 2010.10.11 14:22, Liz said:

                  I worked at Barnes & Noble one summer in college and was stunned by the way people left books and magazines covered in crumbs in the cafe or thrown haphazardly on the floor in the fiction section. A lot of them were teenagers killing time before the movie started next door but there were equal numbers of adults who should have known better!
                  Liz´s last blog post ..Its Monday-What Are You Reading

                  • At 2010.10.11 20:30, Jane Steen said:

                    I’m never particularly comfortable with books and coffee shops being in close proximity! I’m always amazed to see people drinking their coffee while reading books they clearly haven’t purchased. I suppose it’s just counted as shrinkage by the stores.
                    Jane Steen´s last blog post ..Im Winding Up to Wind Down to Wind Up

                    • At 2010.10.11 23:06, bybee said:

                      Sam at Book Chase wrote about this a few months ago, same concerns. People can be such fish-heads. Ugh.
                      bybee´s last blog post ..Life During Wartime

                      • At 2010.10.12 14:09, Meg said:

                        As a former bookstore employee, I can tell you that there’s nothing employees despise more than these “browsers” who destroy books (crack the spines, stain the pages, allow their children to rip pages out — yes, I’ve seen it all!) without even bothering to pretend like they’re going to buy something. Many sit in the comfy chairs for hours, taking up valuable real estate, reading an entire book they have no intention of purchasing.

                        It’s not an effin’ library. And our local library system is pretty decent! It’s ridiculous.

                        Oh, OH! And the “guests” who take out a stack of, oh, 20 books on various subjects, muss them all up and then leave a tidy stack of every single one next to the chair when they’re done. Or shoved under the chair. Or scattered around the chair and kicked out of the way of other patrons.

                        Oh, Nat, I could go on… but I won’t let your comments section become prime space for my retail-related ranting! I’ll sum up: I’m with you, girlfriend. It’s annoying as hell.
                        Meg´s last blog post ..Book review &amp giveaway- ‘The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs’

                        • At 2010.10.12 20:53, Jody said:

                          Oh damn that gets my back up. I’m annoyed when I see my mom dog-earring her pages, I’d be livid seeing what you saw.
                          I feel the same about library books. I don’t know how often I’ve come across a book with food stains across the pages. I understand accidents happen, but I doubt most of the crud I’ve seen on the pages were because someone walked by with a pastry. Quit readin’ & eatin’!
                          *ahem* so sorry about that ;).
                          Jody´s last blog post ..Bring the crocheting or the computer

                          • At 2010.10.12 21:15, Jane Steen said:

                            Jody, I’ve seen worse things than food on library books.
                            Jane Steen´s last blog post ..Im Winding Up to Wind Down to Wind Up

                            • At 2010.10.21 01:40, Alipet813 said:

                              Ok, I am completely book anal. No scribbling in the margins, highlighting, dog-earring of pages, etc. However, I have sat and read at the bookstore. I just love to get away from it all and the bookstore is so yummy to me. I don’t read an entire book, but I have read several chapters or picked up several books to look at and left them out. I would never bend up the pages or eat or drink coffee while reading them though. does that make it any better? Confession- one time I was really broke and we had a very short book club book. I went to B&N and read it in pieces. I didn’t finish it by doing that, but I would have if I had more times to go. I was desparate! I slapped my hand so you all don’t have to.

                              (Required, will not be published)

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