Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Is it OK to Read Magazines in Stores? Companies Answer!

Is it ethical to go to a bookstore and read magazines in the aisles or in the store cafe? That's the question that was posed to me when I wrote this post about saving money on magazines.

A few people wrote in with tips and Financial Diva asked if free-reading (with coffee) at a bookstore is an accepted practise.

"Financial Diva said...
I find my local bookstore frowns on people taking magazines
into the coffee shop area and reading them for free. Do you just take them
anyway (I am always the good one!) or read them in other parts of the

Good question. I usually sit down with my selection of magazines and read. I pay for the coffee; I might make a purchase. And I'm not alone; other readers are equally armed with coffee and periodicals. Are we wrong? I called around and asked a few questions and this is what I found.

"We encourage our customers to spend time in our stores," said Kolleen O’Meara, a spokeswoman for Borders (http://www.borders.com/).

Kolleen told me that the average Borders customers spends about one hour at the bookstore. And browsers are encouraged to retreat with magazines into the store-run coffee shop: "Usually our magazines are by the cafe," Kolleen said.

Likewise, it's the same story from the staff at Books & Books--a small regional and independent store in Southern Florida. Here's my conversation with a staffer from the Coral Gables branch of the Books & Books.

Q. Is it okay to read magazines in the store?

A. "Right now there are three people outside reading magazines. Lots of people come in and read.

Q. But what about retreating with magazines and coffee at your cafe?

A. Yeah, of course.

Here's a snippet of my conversation at another bookstore:

Q. Is it okay to read magazines in the store?

A. "It's hard to say yes or no. It depends. We have people who come in all day. They stay for a little while and that's fine.

Q. Browsing & reading magazine?

A. "People browse and look through magazines all day long and that's fine. But if they're here all day long and don't buy anything that's different."

During my own travels (Florida, Utah, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, etc), I've often chilled out at Barnes & Noble and independent stores with coffee & magazines in the lounge chairs in or near the cafe/newsstand.

But many drugstores have clear signs: "Do not read the magazines." So I guess the rules are store-by-store. It doesn't hurt to ask.


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1 comment:

Mrs. Micah said...

Hmm. I normally assume that big chain ones which put the mags by the coffee are just asking for it. But I'm very careful not to spill stuff on it or damage it (and buy it if I do). And Mr. Micah and I don't spend all day in the store. So I guess we're ok.

Next time I'm at a smaller bookstore/coffee shop, I'll remember to ask if it's unclear.