Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do You Want Your Booksellers Reading at the Register?




Is it a requirement that booksellers wear glasses? Kind of. Is it a requirement that boys that work at Trader Joe's wear carabiners with keys on them? Most assuredly. There are some stereotypes that are offensively true. The point I'd like to raise is one of great contention, and the mere fact that I hesitated to even bring it up is proof of its divisiveness... reading, while working at the cash register. Is it okay? Why or why not...


When you walk into a bookstore, you expect the booksellers to be, well,...hyper literate. This quality takes a good deal of time to develop. If you are working at the register, and there aren't many customers around, and everything had been straightened and stocked...is it ok to read? Would you be put off if you saw an employee reading on the job? Or would you see it as on the job training/ or product placement?




I personally have mixed feelings on the issue. If I saw someone reading at a coffee shop, and they didn't look up to acknowledge my presence as a paying customer, I would be miffed. I would feel neglected...but I would also be curious as to what the are reading. Now let's say we have the same scenario, but this time we are in a bookstore...if the reader/employee in question looked up and acknowledged me as a customer, I would be fine with them reading at the register. I would think to myself, what a wonderful job they have! I wonder what they are reading? As surely it must be good, I mean they work here and have the pick of the litter! They practice what they preach!




I am honestly curious as to what you think as a customer, is it beneficial to have booksellers reading on the job? (while at the register)

5 comments:

That Kind of Girl said...

I love it when I see employees read during downtime! Of course, I like them to remain good employees (ie: noticing when I need help, and not rushing me along to get back to a good scene in their book), but I think most people cool and literary enough to read during work would do that anyway.

In fact, I've become a regular at a diner near my work purely on the basis that, the first time I came in, the girl behind the counter didn't notice me because she was so enthralled in a book of Neruda. My heart swelled up and I fell in love with the diner on the spot!

brittleighbooks said...

Hi! I'm in the retail business, too. As a customer, if the reader acknowledges my presence and provides customer service, no problem. From the other side of the counter, I believe it can work as a conversation starter, a time to hand-sell, or a chance to read across genres the employees don't normally pick up. But if it's for school or a title everyone's read, it won't be as useful.

brittleighbooks said...

Hi! I'm in the retail business, too. Instead of books, we sell games. we've found customers like it as long as we give customer service first. Then we can tell them about the game and invite them to play. It keeps us knowledgeable about what we sell and improves the quality of our recommendations. The same could apply to books.

As a customer, if I knew it somehow added value to my experience, I'd be cool with readers at the register. But if it's for school or causes them to ignore me, probably not.

Kate Robinson said...

What great feedback! I totally agree about not reading texty-school books or generic books. Thanks for taking the time to respond! It's great talking about customer service and the evolution of the role of the bookseller...I think it is wonderful to have open dialogue between employees and customers.

Eisparklz said...

When I win the powerball, I want to spend my joyful free time working in a bookstore. However, there is no way that a bibliophile could spend all day in a bookstore (especially one like Brookline Booksmith) without reading a bit at the counter. Maybe more than a bit. :) I envy you working there, and I envy your reading on the job.