November 13, 2007

Won't this interfere with my efforts to read whole books and magazines in your comfy chairs?

TV screens to be installed in Borders Bookstores.
[George L. Jones, the chief executive of the Borders Group said]: at Borders, “you browse, buy a latte, read a magazine. It’s entertaining.” The televisions are “another way that we can bring knowledge and entertainment,” he said....

Mr. Jones said Borders customers tend to be “highly educated, more affluent” and spend an average of an hour in the store, making them catnip to many advertisers. “It’s becoming more and more difficult to reach people,” Mr. Jones said. “Newspapers are not as effective as they used to be. Television is not as easily reachable as it used to be. This becomes an attractive option.
This is what we get for not buying the books.

ADDED: Me, I bought those noise-cancelling headphones I was talking about back here. You can put them on and use them with no music at all, just to make yourself almost deaf. It's quite eerie. But to wear headphones in a bookstore... that would wreck the social aspect of it. You want to eavesdrop and talk to a person who's looking in a section you found interesting too. If advertising screens take over our social spaces, we'll have to curl up into our shell even when we leave the house to try to get out of our shell. How will you ever meet the love of your life in the future?

21 comments:

Paul Zrimsek said...

Harrumphing. Decline of Western civilization. Gradual corruption of public spaces by soulless forces of corporate capitalism. Much use of royal "we". Independent booksellers better anyway. Except for sheeple who don't read DeLillo. Tangential connection to Iraq, somehow. Halliburton. Designated Hitter rule as metaphor for. No, wait, that's George Will.

Pogo said...

In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985), Neil Postman called television's entertainment value a "soma" for our world, in which information, argument, and eventually rights are surrendered in favor of entertainment.

I already hate airports, where one has great difficulty escaping the din of CNN blaring overhead every few yards. I avoid restaurants that have walls of unavoidable televisions. A TV in a bookstore is one more reason for me to shop on Amazon.

Bissage said...

“[O]riginal programming, advertisements, news and weather” coming soon to a neighborhood near you!

rhhardin said...

Put ads in the books, is my suggestion.

bill said...

At the local Borders, a large section of the store was remodeled for 5 kiosks so you select music and burn your own CDs. There's also another 3-4 kiosks that have something to do with geneology. Another handful of tables for games, the giant screens of calendars clogging up the aisles for the next couple of months, the reading area in the children's section was removed -- mixed feelings about this, our child was the only one who would put books back instead of just throwing them on the floor -- and about half the comfy chairs have been removed. Equally annoying by camping out for hours in the cafe hogging all the seats: teenagers and adult telecommuters.

Borders is pretty much sucking ass right now. And that's the nicest way I could put it.

MadisonMan said...

I really need to get one of those gizmos that turns off big TVs in public spaces.

bill said...

geneology = genealogy

rhhardin said...
Put ads in the books, is my suggestion.


I'm fine with that. I haven't seen them in years, but I remember the occasional paperback having a page or two of ads. Easy enough to rip out or ignore. Less intrusive than all tha crap at the beginning of a DVD they've disabled forwarding past.

bill said...

Coming soon to a gas station enar you: google map touch screens at the pump.

Which isn't that bad of an idea.

peter hoh said...

How will you ever meet the love of your life in the future?

I suspect thta people will find a way. Perhaps they, too, will have to advertise on the ubiquitous TV screens.

As for me, TVs at Borders will take away from the experience, and make me less likely to return. I go to get lost in the books, not distracted by TV.

Ron said...

You'll meet the love of your life through some future form of downloading/blogging/podcasting...

Maybe the next version of Windows will pick your mate for you! Perhaps your marriage license will come with automatically downloaded revisions...MarrLic 1.37, for example.

Original Mike said...

Pogo said: "A TV in a bookstore is one more reason for me to shop on Amazon."

Bingo.

Joan said...

My Borders had TVs installed over the summer. They are no big deal; flat panel screens installed at a height that makes them easy to ignore. The content is the same as they link to in their email newsletters, at least some of it is -- interviews with authors, that sort of thing.

I go every week for a civilized experience with my children. They noticed them immediately but just as promptly forgot about them, since they are unobtrusive (not loud at all) and the content does not interest them. They don't appear to have changed the ambience of the store at all.

The changes to the children's section are drastic, but since they actually have more books and stuff now, my kids don't complain about that, either. They made the cafe bigger a couple of years ago, so we don't have a problem getting a table when we pop in on Friday afternoons. We have been going at least twice a month since my youngest was an infant, and he's going on 7 now. Some day they won't want to go with me, but for now, we still enjoy hanging out for a while in the cafe and in the various sections of interest to us all.

Revenant said...

Yet another reason for me to feel good about doing all my book shopping online.

former law student said...

I quit shopping at barnes and noble years ago when I realized they were really selling used books. I was flipping through a travel experience book (on the order of Bill Bryson) when a croissant crumb fell out. It had left a grease stain on either side. A real bookstore would not let you take shelf stock into the cafe.

I like to browse in real time if at all possible, and then take my treasures home. Amazon is particularly unsatisfying -- it took one order 22 days to get to my house, including three days sitting in Fresno.

In the Bay Area, Green Apple is excellent for its mixture of new and used. The European Bookstore on Larkin is best for French and German books. Cody's and Kepler's are my next favorites, and the Stanford Bookstore is very good, including a surprisingly good kiddie book section.

Pogo said...

At this point in my life, the only love I wish for is a transformative book. Such an experience seems less likely when the eyes are pulled toward movement, an evolutionary demand that really has started pissing me off.

It's hard to fall in love with a pretty but complex book when a wanton hussy is shaking her groove tube at you in every corner, promising you a good time, albeit brief.

reader_iam said...

FLS: I've had a similar experience or two to the one you describe involving the croissant. It's really irritating. The one that really pissed me off involved a book I'd purchased as a gift, and when I tried to return it to the store, the clerk accused me of having done it myself (which I hadn't).

I also am under the impression--perhaps wrong--that the kiddie sections in larger chains, at least in my immediate area, are going downhill, and even popular titles often aren't in stock. (Collecting the titles on the summer reading list, for example, has become an obnoxious chore, if I try to do it in person, kid in tow.) For that reason, I've ended up doing most "kiddie-section" shopping on Amazon or wherever. That bugs me, because I'd like my son to have more of that "real-time" browsing experience.

former law student said...

reader: Once, in Keplers (Menlo Park, CA) I noticed table after table covered with classics in paperbacks. They had obtained the summer reading lists from the local schools, and stocked up, to save parents the headache you describe.

Kiddie book sections are hit or miss. Borders used to be better than Barnes and Noble, which seemed to specialize in series books, and has little for older boys. Kiddie bookstores are few and far between these days, and often they're reduced to saying "But I can order it for you."

Palladian said...

People still go to bookstores? Wow. The only bookstores worth visiting, Anno Amazoni, are used book stores.

Trooper York said...

The Strand is a pretty good bookstore. Especially the annex on Fulton St. near the Seaport. No TV, no coffee, no screaming rug rats. Just 18 miles of books.

John Stodder said...

I was in Portland earlier this year, and spent parts of two days at Powells. You just can't go back to Borders after hanging out there. This TV thing won't affect me, because I stopped lingering in Borders five years ago.

reader_iam said...

Well, Palladian, options are limited in some places. Sometimes settling for second-best is the best option among the limited choices. Ordering online is fine (and in fact I do that a lot), but it's not quite the same thing, at least for me.

In the late '90s, I worked on a project for a couple of months in the Portland area. One of the great fun things was to drive into Portland and hang out at Powell's.

I'm always up for a good local coffee bar or used bookstore--they're one of the pleasures of traveling elsewhere.