Borders employees list grievances: 'Ode to a bookstore death'

Yet another artifact from the slow, painful death of Borders has emerged. A fascinating look inside a (justifiably) angry bookseller’s mind, this manifesto of sorts, “Things We Never Told You: Ode to a bookstore death” informs us of what those helpful Borders folks had to put up with. (I have to admit — seeing the list, I realize I’ve been a bad customer in the past.) Hopefully, we’ll learn from our mistakes and treat the Barnes & Noble people better. The statements from the list are re-printed below — which ones do you agree with?

++ We hate when a book becomes popular simply because it was turned into a movie.

++ It confused us when we were asked where the non-fiction section is.

++ Nicholas Sparks is not a good writer … if you like him, fine, but facts are facts.

++ We greatly dislike the phrase “Quick question.” It’s never true. And everyone seems to have one.

++ Your summer reading list was our summer reading NIGHTMARE. Also, it’s called summer reading, not three days before school starts reading.

++ It’s true that we lean to the left and think Glenn Beck is an idiot.

++ We always knew when you were intently reading Better Homes and Gardens, it was really a hidden Playboy.

++ Most of the time when you returned books you read them already — and we were onto you.

++ Limit One Coupon did not mean one for every member of your family — this angered us. Also, we did know what coupons were out.

++ It never bothered us when you threatened to shop at Barnes & Noble. We’d rather you do if you’re putting up a stink.

++ “I was just here last week and saw this book there” meant nothing to us. The store changed once a week.

++ When you walked in and immediately said, “I’m looking for a book,” what you really meant to say is, “I would like you to find me a book.” You never looked. It’s fine, it’s our job — but let’s be correct about what’s really happening here.

++ If you don’t know the author, title, or genre, but you do know the color of the cover, we don’t either. How it was our fault that we couldn’t find it we’ll never understand.

++ We were never a daycare. Letting your children run free and destroy our section destroyed a piece of our souls.

++ Oprah was not the “final say” on what is awesome. We really didn’t care what was on her show or what her latest book club book was. Really.

++ When you returned your SAT books, we knew you used them. We thought it wasn’t fair — seeing that we are not a library.

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @stepephan

Read more:
A book commits suicide every time you watch ‘Jersey Shore': Do you read high-brow, watch low?
An empty Borders: Critique of the saddest photo ever
Borders: Goodbye to all that. What are some of your Borders memories?

Comments (789 total) Add your comment
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  • Nancy

    I hate it when people take advantage of return policies. Read a book and return it?

    • MWeyer

      Yeah, seriously, there’s a place for that. It’s called the LIBRARY. I buy a book, I keep it.

      • Mackenzie

        Agreed. I have tried to return a couple books to walmart or target, because publishers got sneaky and rereleased some older books(that I happen to own) with new covers. Please don’t do that and then not take the book back!

      • Tom

        I love .. No lines. No Hassle. No screaming kids. Nobody trying to ask me out.

      • Arnie

        I buy books and donate them to the local library after reading in almost new condition. Buying and keeping books is not responsible use of resources unless there is specific need for the information although online resources are even challenging those needs.

      • BFD

        Funny because the huge displays of everything Twilight indicated to me that they were really into what was popular and not what was good.

      • @BFD

        The booksellers had no control over displays – that was always corporate’s decision. If it had been up to those of us at the Borders where I worked, we’d have roasted marshmallows over the giant Twilight bonfire in the field behind our store.

      • Mr. Effing Tea Party

        Libraries are an un-American Communist invention that fly in the face of capitalism! Free books? I don’t like it!

      • jballaviator

        f’in teaparty… wow, i’m at a loss, can we just send everyone whom agrees with you to china so we can kill two birds with one stone

      • Roger C.

        Tom, peopl asking you out bothers you? You’re a guy? Uhhhhhhhh.

      • Leopold

        I love them and was amazing

      • Captain Obvious

        @jballaviator Hello, citizen, Captain Obvious here – I believe the “effin” in “Mr. Effin Tea Party” was a clear indicator that the post was meant to be ironic. (That means that the writer doesn’t really believe what he’s saying.) Have a great day, and any time you feel you may be missing the jokes, give me a call.

      • Tom

        I’m not into those creepy girls that would read twilight, sip soy non fat chai lattes, and ask me if like My Chemical Romance

      • RaRa

        Thank you, Captain Obvious! You took the words right out of my mouth!

      • the Vicster

        @jballaviator I’ve lived in China for several years and they obviously have Libraries, and they also are a communist country, so they do share

    • Kathy

      I agree. I don’t understand when people get new magazines, sit down and read them (or worse, take them to the in-store coffee store and read them), then just leave them there. It’s not a library. Pay for it, ya cheap bastard!

      • Cari

        At least if they go to the coffee store, sometimes they spend money on food/drinks.

      • jballaviator

        nope usually they only buy coffee if they have a coupon, most walk in with a mcdonalds or starbucks cup and sit and read books they never pay for until 15 minutes after we close

      • Bhim

        Everytime I went to the coffee section with two or three books or magazines, I would purchase two of them with a cup of coffee and come back to get the third if it wasn’t picked up when I came back.

      • Layton

        Mr. Effing Tea Party I hope you are joking. First libraries have been around since Ancient times and many of our founding fathers (Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and Adams) were big proponent of libraries. Jefferson made many comments about the great importance from libraries.

      • Tom

        Public Libraries are so much better and have 1000x the amount to choose from for free. People just can’t afford it in a recession. Let’s call a spade a spade folks.

      • Tarc

        The stores with a coffee shops INVITE you to peruse the books and magazines as you sip… and considering I drop about a $1000 at the bookstore each year, I’m certainly never going to regret a second of that.

      • Don

        Sorry Tom, you can claim that Amazon and other online sites are 1000x better than Borders and other physical bookstores, but in this day and age public libraries are largely the domain of children and students who don’t have access to PCs, not serious readers.

      • Bebe

        I can’t read books from libraries. I just know that every book on the shelf has been in someone’s bathroom. It makes me retch to think about reading a library book.

      • DLT

        Or the folks who take them into the bathrooms…..

      • Myprettypony

        @don: are you kidding me? Libraries are not for real readers? I read A LOT and get my books from the library. I don’t have room for all of the books i read in my home nor do I have an endless supply of money to purchase them.

      • Kalie

        I used to work in a regular bookstore w/ no cafe, and there were customers who would come in every week to sit down and read all of their favorite magazines and then leave w/o buying anything. There was nothing we could do about it because we couldn’t kick someone out for sitting in one of our chairs and reading. That’s what the chairs were there for. Most people would grab a large stack and then just leave them on the floor when they were finished.

    • BFD

      If you run your bookstore like a cafe or a mall then you are going to get people in there that treat it as such and hove no one to blame but yourselves. Borders went out of business because it stopped being a bookstore and became a place to get scented candles and over priced CDs. But their staff can pretend their store was some kind of mass market version of Powells, Shakespeare and Co, or The Strand but the truth is, they became Barnes and Noble. And not very successfully at that.

      • Kim

        I agree. I hate walking into a book store and smelling coffee. It turns me off. I love the smell of libraries.

      • Tarc

        What compete and utter nonsense. The reason Borders failed has been established by people that actually do this for a living, and it has nothing to do with any of that. It has everything to do with not developing a solid online store and utterly failing to establishing a foothold in the ebook market, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Local books stores are dying, and they are being replaced by online stores with cheaper prices, home delivery, and instant ebooks.

      • PDDB

        I stopped shopping at borders because I was reading a book to my 5 year old daughter in the store and was asked by a store associate to move out of the way of the customers. There were no customers around and we were not in anyone’s way. Borders had a children’s section full of books and toys and periodically hold kids related events. If they didn’t want people in the store reading, why have cushy chairs all over? If the store had been busy or if the reading aloud was bothering someone, I might have better understood the associate’s rudeness.

        I worked in the retail industry for years. The above list sounds a little whiny. Why hate when a book becomes popular because it is based on a movie? Any reason to increase book sales should have been looked at as an opportunity. Also, shouldn’t they have known that if people buy summer reading books three days before school starts, it is still summer? And calling authors “idiot” and their writing “not good” is hardly the way to build and maintain relationships with authors and publishers. One of their primary duties was to sell books and based on the above grievances, they didn’t even want to do that. A shame.

      • Andy

        Oh my god PDDB, shut up.

      • Diane

        @ Andy – THIS.

      • LOL

        @PDDB oh hay Glenn Beck didnt see u thar

      • Cheryl

        Um, Kim, I WORK in a library, and the smell is one of the least charming things about it!

      • r

        PDDB If you wanted to read to your kid GO THE THE LIBRARY that is what they are for. Book stores are for buying books and all those people who came in to ‘read’ to their kids left the pile and all the crumbs from cookies for the store associates to pick up. Kids department was always a nightmare, especially when parents would say go play while I have coffee.
        I’d also like to comment about customres abusing coupons.

      • Liz

        PDDB – you have never worked in retail.

      • Tom

        I stopped going to Borders when every freeloader in town would use their WiFi internet for free. Hey, losers, guess what? Water is not a beverage.. Buy something, or get the __ out.

      • Don

        Stopped going to Borders because you were inordinately offended by WiFi users? It’s official Tommyboy, you’re a Grade A IDIOT! Little punk, you’d get the surprise of your useless life if you got in my face mouthing some b.s. about buy or get out.

      • BFD

        Blahblahbla @Tarc.

        You have a job, you do your job. Even if it includes answering the same question umpteen times and directing people to lousy books because they ask for them and having people sit in your store and read. SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP, that’s what you were hired to do. Not be a pansy ass whiner who thinks they’re so intellectually superior to their customer that they can’t deign to come out behind their counter and make a little effort. Welcome to UNEMPLOYMENT dearies.

      • PDDB

        R – A library is NOT a place to bring a child and read a book aloud. Or don’t you remember those “Shhhh” signs when you were last at one 20 years ago?

        Liz – I DID work in retail as a senior service manager. I tried my best to insure both associates as well as customers were treated with respect. That’s the appropriate thing to do in the service industry. Sure there was an occasional gripe about a particular customer but never any general cry babyness like most of the items that are in the above list. Boo hoo – people buy books whenever they like. Big deal. Perhaps you are a cry baby too.

      • Buttercup

        PDDB- Actually a library is a place where you can read to your children. Public/city libraries have a children’s area separate from the rest of the library where the kids can use some items to play with and either read to themselves or have their parents read to them. That is the point. Libraries are very different than 20 years ago. Have you walked into one lately?
        I know children’s librarians and myself work in an elementary library and disagree greatly about your library comment.

      • PDDB

        Buttercup – actually, my town library does not allow reading aloud anywhere in the library (including the children’s section) during most of their reduced open hours. The only time this is allowed is after one of their very rare reading events. Despite this and its reduced hours, I fully support my local library. You are lucky if your library allows reading aloud.

      • Kim

        I just hated 85% of the “customers”

        No sir you may not let your dog crap on our carpets.

        sorry, mam but I cannot return your book, even with a receipt, it’s been over a year and the pages are stained.

        Sorry college guy you cannot give your girlfriend hickies on her boob, this is a business not the drive in.

        Oops kids, you have to be 18 years old to check out the nudie books, and you guys are like 14 . . .that one I’d yell from across the store to make their faces get red.

        other college guy I see you taking that spoon and dope into the bathroom, let me just call the police before you passout in the handicapped stall.

      • Suky

        I agree with you, BFD and Kim. Also, reading these negative employee attitudes towards the store’s customers helps me understand why Borders went under! (Yeah, I’ve worked in retail before and know what it’s like, but there’s a reason they call it “work” and you have to get paid to do it!)

      • Jim

        @PDDB — I don’t think the majority of the list sounds “whiny” at all. Plenty of it sounds strikingly familiar to me. I, too, have worked in retail on and off for years, and little annoyances like these are the realities of what people in the field have to put up with.

        Granted, if you get too negative, then YOU can be the one creating the problem, but that isn’t true all the time. In any case, I enjoyed several of my trips to Borders, Nice store.

      • Arana

        @PDDB Actually it is a place to read your child a book in the proper area. LIke not where people are studying, but in say the kids section. They do allow it. It sounds like you are the whiny bitch because you were reading in the isle. Part of my job was to insure that a customers could get to the books they wanted to see without shooing the pests. It is called being considerate.
        And Nicholas Sparks is an awful writer. We didn’t tell customers that to their face. We showed them the section made recommendations. We knew stuff.

      • Tom

        Borders was pricey, and the staff were really lazy.

      • Brooke

        Seriously, I worked at Barnes and Noble for over three years and I had this SAME list of complaints. I hated when a book became popular because of a movie because a lot of times I’d get people complaining that the book ‘didn’t do justice to the movie’. As an avid reader, it angered me beyond belief.
        And that cover color question. O.O You have no IDEA how many times I was asked that.
        Summer reading was a nightmare because having 45-50 families rush our teen section all at once became a security nightmare.
        Fortunately, at my store, you were more than welcome to read to your kids, chill and read, or browse for as long as you needed.
        What frustrated me the most was the people who wandered around the store, spent time reading and having coffee, then asked about 10 books as soon as the announcement came that we were closed. >.<

      • PDDB

        Arana – I was sitting in a chair with my daughter on my lap in the kids section. So, I was in the “proper area.” So you should try to get your facts straight. Hopefully you do not assume things in your new job. And if was whiny, I might have called you a name – like “b itch” or “idiot”, “simpleton” or “she who is full of crap.” Good thing I am a lot more mature than you.

      • PDDB

        “……And if I was whiny….”

        Also there are hundreds of sucky writers. Just singling out one is purely subjective and makes no sense.

      • sara

        idon’t know what type of retail you worked, but the coupon comment is dead on. the comment that boils down to i want something that i heard about but can’t give you any pertinent info so that you can get it for me is also accurate and if you can’t read my mind i will treat you like a moron is also accurate as is the please take your business elsewhere- the temper tantrum that you are throwing about something i can’t fix is dead on. if those points do not resonate with you somewhere than you must have worked somewhere that the customers always knew what they wanted, never pitched a fit because they wanted you to do something you could not do because of corporate policy or the request wasn’t possible, and no one thought that coupon rules applied to everyone but them.

      • PDDB

        Sara – You may think the coupon comment is dead on but I disagree. Coupons have become a necessary component of enticing customers to shop. It is human nature to try to maximize a coupon’s worth – especially for a store whose prices were higher than its competitors. Every week I received coupons from borders. The percentage usually varied from 20% to 40%. Sometimes the exclusions were different (one per person, only sales items were included, etc). Even with a 40% coupon, it rarely brought the price down to what people could pay elsewhere (usually online with free shipping and no tax). So, would I rant about people trying to save a few dollars by trying to use a coupon differently than what was listed in the tiny fine print? No. I would rant about the company that should have made these coupons much more clearer. I would rant about the manager who didn’t let me know about the week’s coupon, which then left me to interpret what it may or may not mean when the customer presents it to me – wasting my time and the customer’s time. These should have been the more appropriate rants however these would not be funny. Then again neither are the ones up above.

    • KS

      I bought a book from a different store when I started to read it. It had really foul language starting on the second page so I had to take the book back luckily it was in the sale bin so I didn’t pay all that much.

      • 5 year bookseller

        now there is nothing wrong with that. that is why return policies exist.
        They are specifically talking about people who return books after they have read them all the way through, or months after the return policy states.

      • Don

        I hope you didn’t buy the book for yourself and subsequently return it because of some foul language because if that’s the case you’re beyond childish and lame.

    • top dawg

      Blah Blah Blah… dont have a job and I do.

      • Tom

        what kind of job? probably a porn fluffer

    • Rush

      But why do you care? It’s not employee’s money, it’s the company. Granted we’re talking about a company that went bankrupt and these employees are out of jobs, but that’s more likely a result of Borders not being able to flexibly compete against Amazon than having a liberal return policy.

    • Heather

      What a wonderful, wonderful list. My favorite memory is of the customers who wanted me to cross a raw sewage leak to fetch them a book. Um. No.

    • Dustin Ingle

      AMAZON, baby !

      RIP corporate greedy bookstores.
      You killed off my local book stores in the 80’s.

      How ya feel now ?
      ha ha ha

      • Arana

        Well pretty good considering I got a brand new job in no time flat. Though I do miss the books. Here is a funny story. Where I lived a few of our local stores CLOSED before borders opened saying they couldn’t make it. The rest stayed open and made it, they were even within walking distance. As we are all mighty fine people we would work together to find customers what they needed. Hell they were the first people to call us and sincerely mourn our loss. They offered us jobs too. Booksellers have heart.

      • Rick

        How is this a funny story?? Two drunks walk into a bar……now that is a funny story.

    • Mandy

      And we “good” customers were met with the same entitled, sucky attitude. No wonder at ALL why they went under.

      • Booksellerlover

        Unless you worked on the other side if the counter you have no idea why they went under. Those of you making light about honest Americans being out of work should be ashamed of yourselves. How would you like it if it were you? And they can say anything they’d like now for whoever it was that said that’s no way to keep customers. We don’t have to now so it’s finally time you knew how we felt everytime you complained to us about the most pissant of topics.

      • L

        No kidding. What a bunch of snots.

    • Rob Lister

      Instead of requiring Liberal Arts degrees to work there, they should have required business degrees instead. That would be far more consistent with the task at hand. For example:

      Quote++ Your summer reading list was our summer reading NIGHTMARE. Also, it’s called summer reading, not three days before school starts reading.

      If you had done your local market research (contact the local schools and ask!) at the beginning of the school summer break, you could have anticipated the run on each of those books, had plenty in stock, and marked the price up a bit. That turns the nightmare into a dream. You’re having different type of nightmare now, are you not?

      Quote: ++ It’s true that we lean to the left and think Glenn Beck is an idiot.

      You’re opinion of Beck should have been consistent with the number of books he sells, not his politics. Here’s how you should handle that situation: “Yes, we have his new book. He’s a very convincing writer, isn’t he? Just in case you want to turn someone on to him, we offer free shipping to anywhere in the U.S. right from the store! You can buy an extra copy and send it to them today!” But that’s not how you handled it. You decided to just not stock the book.

      • pam

        As a former Borders manager, let me assure you that we did reach out to the schools for their reading lists. Some would comply and we would make every effort to ensure those books were in stock. (Borders sells @ publishers prices, so raising the price is out of the question) I don’t know about your local Borders, but we stocked (and sold the heck out of) Glenn Beck books in our store.

      • Dave

        Having previously worked at Borders and have many friends who worked there that are now unemployed, there a points that some people on this thread are missing. -this is just one persons opinion born out of frustration and anger. This was not posted at every Borders store so let’s not slam all their employees because of that. Do I agree in what was on the list? Most of it, having worked there but I don’t ever remember a Borders employee saying any thing like this to any customer. I’ve worked in retail for most of my working life and anyone who would say this to customers would have been fired. Now, this would be in a functional business, not one that is going out of business and had to deal with liquidation and all that entails. I’ve been to indie book or record stores around the country that have very dismissive or snotty attitudes, but not one from Borders and Barnes & Noble. By the way, the job market isn’t the best out there and we’re talking about a lot of people becoming unemployed, so have some compassion.

      • Ed in CT

        Boy, Rob, what a meanie you are.

      • eli

        …Not to state the obvious, but I really don’t think the person who wrote that list was a manager. And frankly, I doubt Borders paid them anything like enough, or treated them well enough, to make care about drumming up more business.

      • Cheryl

        Borders charged retail or less with a coupon. It’s kind of hard to mark up a book with the retail price marked on the inside and/or back.
        Also, we stocked tons of Glen Becks books. The people that complained about being to pro-left? Guess what? We also received complaint’s about being to pro-right! Sometimes in the same day!!

      • Carrie

        I don’t know what Borders store you visited, but where I worked we were always prepared for summer reading lists. We had a copy of all of the local schools’ lists and made sure we had all of the books on them in stock. We even had a display for those very books to make them even easier to find.

  • kyle

    lmao thats funny

  • Other Meredith

    As a librarian, I can identify with several of these, especially “We’re not a daycare,” “Summer reading is not 3 days before school starts reading,” and “We don’t care if you shop elsewhere.” Preach, Borders employees.

    • Peter

      Being unhelpful and not caring if your customer shops elsewhere is a good way to get your business closed. Take Borders, for instance.

      Being able to work through vague requests like these is the one advantage brick-and-mortar stores have. If you’re not interested in helping, I can do just as well with Amazon, and it’s cheaper.

      • Valley Girl

        Actually, I loved going to our local Borders, as the employees were helpful and friendly. If I had a coupon for a title and the price beat Amazon’s, I would buy at Borders. RIP, Borders!

      • Scott

        I think the point was that these are things they were holding inside while they helped annoying customers. Personally I think that everybody should work one Christmas as a retail employee maybe people would treat them better if they experienced the crap they go through on a daily basis.

      • soneill

        I worked at Borders and left over a year before they closed. This list could have been written by my store; yet, these were comments we kept to ourselves or shared in the break room. Even with the customers that repeatedly gave us a hard time, everyone worked hard to meet their needs. I don’t believe it was the book sellers fault that Borders closed, it was improper management at the highest level.

      • Hilary

        Good luck finding the “book with the red cover that you heard about on the radio 2 weeks ago” on Amazon.

      • Acaseofgeo

        Peter, I absolutely AGREE with you. This “list” of “things we never told you” sounds like a recipe on how TO LOSE YOUR JOB AND GO OUT OF BUSINESS. While some of the points are obviously funny, the attitude behind them is atrocious. If you are in retail, you do what you can to make that sale. That sale pays your rent, buys you food, keeps you going into the next month. THIS IS YOUR JOB.

      • Petert

        @Hilary, that’s my point exactly. A human being can be helpful with vagaries like that, Amazon can’t. But according to this list, Borders employees didn’t think they should have to help with those. So they lose their advantage.

      • Kace

        I work in a library and have worked in retail and can identify with this. I don’t know why, but people can act stupid in public–including me. It’s hard not to have an attitude when you’re asked the same question over and over–a question which has an obvious answer if people would just take a moment to look around. However, staff and customers are all people and deserve to be treated with respect. To expect too much of either though is a fallacy. However, I have never felt a bad attitude projected by any Borders employees–they were always very helpful and not too intrusive. And no, Acaseofgeo, the sale does not pay their rent: they are not working on commission–the company does. Staff connect company to customers, yet what many customers don’t realize is that staff usually have little power to change anything customers do not like and they are told to enforce policies that come from above. Yelling at them or even making suggestions usually does no good, for they usually don’t have much power. Often the company won’t even listen to what the employee has heard directly from customers. That in my opinion is why retail stores go out of business.
        I still hope, however, that there’s a future for brick-and-mortar stores. It’s nice to hang out and browse.

      • @Acaseofgeo

        You clearly have no idea how much a retail book store employee makes. Let me explain: that sale EITHER pays your rent, buys you food, or keeps you going into the next month. It would only do all three if you actually OWNED a book store.

      • DWG

        I worked at Walden’s (a subsidiary of Borders) and left 10 years ago when I saw the handwriting on the wall (i.e., internet shopping would close the brick-and-mortars). But Borders was a lousy company to work for and I’m glad they are out of business…very happy to purchase from Amazon!

      • jballaviator

        Don’t forget all of these people make minimum wage, recieve no benefits, got no severance, and basically were told sorry about your luck as they worked harder than they ever have while at the same time losing their jobs. People with highly paid cushy jobs astonish me at how little they think of some business, Do you think the man with the whip can pick the cotton, i dont think so. go back to drinking your lattes and sitting on your fat comfy asses.

      • Peter

        @jballaviator, I’m really not sure what your point is. People who work in bookstores should be able to help customers. If they think it’s not worth the paycheck, then they should stop cashing it. If they don’t want to help customers, they shouldn’t be surprised when the company goes under.

      • 5 year bookseller

        we all work in bookstores because we want to help people and sell books. but there is no part of me that wants to go to work and be berated by people who don’t understand that being in customer service does not make me your servant or a second class citizen.

      • Andy

        No Peter, you don’t get it. Have you even worked a retail job? Watch the movie Clerks to get an idea of how annoying and repetitive life can be in one of these places. Hearing the same questions over and over is soul crushing, and its not the employees fault when a business fails, its the corporate management who do that. Work for a few years at a Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster, Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc, and then you come back and chime in with your response.

      • Peter

        Yes, I worked retail, years ago. I know it sucks. That’s why I don’t now. But if I couldn’t answer a question, I was embarrassed. That’s the job I signed on for. And yes, book seller, you’re there to serve. It’s called “customer SERVice”. Second class citizen, no, but if you weren’t there to help people, they’d just have a bunch of shelves and a self-checkout lane.

      • 5 year bookseller

        I “serve” no one. I help people, and do my job well. But I don’t serve anyone. I provide a service.
        And yes, If I can’t answer a question off the top of my head, I’ll do everything in my power to find the the answer. But if the combine resources of my brain, my coworkers brains, the store database and google cannot find the answer to a customer’s question, I do not feel that I should be berated for that.

      • Peter

        Well, I’m sorry to hear you were ever berated for such. There are people here who have written as though book store workers should have to do nothing but collect a paycheck. You can blame them for making the rest of you look bad.

      • Tarc

        Let’s be honest here… this list is an example of one person’s ‘get it off your chest’ moment. I’ve shopped at Border for years, have many friends that lost their jobs when Borders closed, and not only did Borders have the BEST service of all bookstores I’ve ever been to (which is an extensive list), but the stores were great, and the staff exceedingly helpful. Borders went out of business because of very poor top level management: they expanded too fast, they purchased Waldenbooks, they completely failed to create a usable online store, and they made no inroads in the ebook market. The store staff was great.

      • BFD

        @Tarc, blah blah blah. Borders Failed and these people are playing 11th hour quarterback and blaming the customers. You take a service job, you do the job, even when it sucks. The stores I’d frequented had staff who would rather be gossiping amongst themselves than deal with a customer. And generally all I ever asked for was help getting something down from a high shelf. Guess what, they’re still unemployed.

      • Ash

        Having worked at the second largest Borders in the nation for a year (I quit because having 6 managers is not something for me and I moved to Russia), I understand everyone of these people’s complaints. We joked about this stuff all the time. If you go to a bookstore trying to be as hipster as Borders was, you’re going to have way overeducated employees. Overeducated employees who love books and cringe internally every time someone creases a book reading it to their kid or asks for the book with the green cover that they don’t know anything about. Employers who hate shoplifters not for shoplifting but for violating the sanctity of the literature. Of a staff of probably 60 or better I was the only one in my store who hadn’t yet completed an undergrad. I was only hired because I have very peculiar interests in genres and they hire experts for each genre in the store so they can make recommendations well. Barnes an Noble employees may mock the customers less, but I promise you they do. Borders may not be offering them low crappy wages in exchange for great book discounts, but these overeducated people will (I suspect) easily find work elsewhere. These are not the complaints of retail employees (i’ve had other retail jobs I’ve genuinely loved), they are the complaints of individuals who love books so much they are heartbroken by a public of customers who by and large just don’t understand that love.

      • L

        Clearly a lot of you haven’t worked in retail in a very long time if you ever have at all. I’m sure that whoever wrote this would greet every customer with a smile and go along with whatever request anyone had, no matter how insane. They aren’t trying to insult everyone that ever shopped at Borders. If it’s like where I work, sometimes you just simply don’t feel like you get paid enough to deal with some of the stuff you deal with, especially considering how little you actually get paid. I work in retail and have no problem with most of the people who shop at the store I work in, but some people have absolutely no respect for people who work in retail as being actual human beings.

      • Arana

        I helped people and my store still closed. It had everything to do with the company not being able to keep up with the times, not the booksellers. We had other stores calling in to hire our staff or coming in to scout us, because our store was known for our customer service. Hell yeah we made fun of silly things, but I still pulled twilight off the shelf and recommended other titles that would go well with it. : / I really don’t like twilight.

      • Arana

        News flash the stores are all closing they already lost their job. My customers would of gotten a kick out of this. They love our displays that we made at the end.

      • PDDB

        Arana – it’s “…would have…” instead of “…would of….”. While a basic mastery of the English language wasn’t a requirement to work in a book store, one would expect those employees to know better.

      • PDDB

        “……And if I was whiny….”

        Also there are hundreds of sucky writers. Just singling out one is purely subjective and makes no sense.

    • Mother Nature

      @ Other Meredith- I’m also a librarian, and I feel this list also speaks for many of us. People call and say “I’m looking for a book” and it’s all I can do to not say “we have several”. No titles, no info, they’re just looking for a book, and my job is to read their mind. I won’t even discuss internet P0rn and thieves. People just can’t understand what it’s like dealing with the public until they’ve done it for a while.

      • Mindy

        This just seems like bad customer service to me. Sorry. I really respect librarians. But, you should absolutely be able to help people when they say “I’m looking for a book.” Here’s how: “What genre do you like? What style of writing? Are you looking for a certain topic? Who are your favorite authors?” Ask a few of those questions and you should be able to recommend. This is why I still go to a independent bookstore. The employees READ and have a great ability to recommend.

      • Izzy

        @Mindy except that’s what Mother Nature said she was was THINKING–I’m sure she, as many librarians (myself included) do exactly what you just said: we query the customer as to what they’re interested in and do our best to help find a book for them to enjoy.

        I can be super helpful and give you a fantastic book and still internally think you’re a blithering idiot for coming to a library and saying something like “I’m looking for a book”.

      • @Mindy

        Ok, she said it was all she could do to NOT say them, meaning that she thought it in her head. She is probably a great librarian and asked the questions you mentioned. Just because someone has thoughts in there head doesn’t mean they don’t give good customer service. I’m sure no one has asked you an overly obvious question and you’ve not rolled your eyes in your mind.

      • jballaviator

        obviously almost the entire population forgot how to “look up a book” its a library its free, no its not their job to help you find a book or it shouldnt be, its your job to be smarter than the book in order to find and read it.

      • PDDB

        This list reflects a poor customer service attitude. I thought this list of “Things We Never Told You” would be more about the mismanagement the employees endured and a lot less whining about their customers that buy summer reading books three days before school starts or calling authors names. A customer has the right to buy a book whenever they want. An employee shouldn’t dictate when a book should be purchased. Anything that increases sales (like a celebrity’s endorsement or a book based movie) should have been looked at as a sales opportunity and not looked at with scorn. And being negatively judgmental about authors alienates those writers as well as the customers that buy those books. Perhaps the borders employees never told us these things they didn’t like, but customers sensed the bad attitude – one of many reasons why customers like me stopped shopping there. Retail is a tough industry in which to work (long hours, rotten pay, weekend and holiday work requirements, unruly and demanding customer) but this list reflects a poor attitude to people that shopped in Borders. Hopefully these people have found a job more to their liking. And hopefully it doesn’t involve dealing with customers.

      • 5 year bookseller

        a lot of it is people who come in and just say “I’m looking for a book.” and then stare at you. You obviously have my attention, and I am ready and waiting to get details to help find it, but we generally assume the whole reason you have come up to the help desk is that you need help. finding a book. it just makes the statement redundant, and when you hear it several times a day, it starts to get to you.

      • s

        PDDB – Yes, a customer has a right to buy a book when they choose, but if they choose to wait until the very end of the season to buy it, they do NOT have the right to be outraged and abuse the bookseller when the book is sold out because they waited so long. Movie versions of books were looked at as sales opportunities – we sold boatloads of them and were happy to do so, but it doesn’t make someone a bad bookseller to find it funny that you had to slap Robert Pattinson’s face on a good book in order to get someone to buy it. If you can tell me you’ve never, ever had a negative thought in your job… well, I’ll have a hard time believing it first of all, and I’ll also be certain that you never put up with the kind of abuse that booksellers (and retail employees of every stripe) face on a daily basis. But despite all that, despite customer frustrations and pet peeves like those on the list, all of the Borders booksellers I knew loved their jobs (because believe me, there wasn’t any other reason to keep it) and came to work every day to do their best to put books in people’s hands. Period. And they did it better than almost anyone else I’ve ever met.

        Also, as my OWN pet peeve, the one thing I never understood in retail was how customers felt qualified to act as an associate’s boss – or at least sound like one. “You shouldn’t work in customer service,” or “that person should be fired.” Thanks, I’ll leave that one up to my boss (here’s a hint: they don’t agree.) I worked at Borders, I agree with every word of that list, I have a new job in the customer service sector, and I’m damn good at it. Perhaps you’re the one unqualified to deal with service providers?

        (PS: you’re right, they could have made a list like this about upper management, but it wouldn’t be the kind of thing that got posted on social media sites. Sorry to disappoint.)

      • PDDB

        S – You read the list again, they were not saying they were abused by customers. They were saying they didn’t like people with summer reading lists “waiting until 3 days before school starts.” They are basically telling customers when and when not to buy their books – hardly the customer service mindset. As someone above commented, this list shows contempt for their customers. If you currently have a customer service related job, hopefully you are doing things better than what’s reflected on this list. And yes, if they had written a more appropriate list of substantive complaints, it might not have been published here, but it probably would have been shown on business and news sites. This just shows whinyness. Boo hoo.

      • Booksellerlover

        @Ash. you’re amazing and have said this better than anyone on here!

    • Day

      @Other Meredith & Mother Nature: Librarian here as well. I tried very hard not to be the bad library patron when I went to Borders looking for something. Even better than the color of the book – what was on the cover! “Um… it was a blue book with a gold lion on the cover?”

    • BFD

      @ Other Meredith, you’re job is to answer peoples questions, no matter how stupid. Even if that answer is “I sorry but I need more information than that to help you.” Also, if as your business model you perpetuate everything you claim to hate such as books made popular because they are movies, then you can’t complain when people come in and buy them.

      I can’t tell you how often I’d gone into a Borders with a book title or an author name and they had no idea what I was talking about. If it wasn’t Twilight, or Nicholas Sparks it wasn’t important because it didn’t sell.

      • BFD

        And I’m sorry for all my spelling errors in that post.

      • bfd hater

        You’re ignorant.

      • Other Meredith

        It’s not that I don’t want to answer people’s questions, or even that I don’t answer people’s questions. I always do my best. What gets to me is when I kindly ask people to follow the rules (such as use your phone in the lobby, please stop swearing in the children’s section, stop eating in the library, etc.) and they respond by saying charming things like “F— the library!” and “threaten” to go to another library. Dude, if this is how you’re going to act every time you’re here, I’d prefer if you go somewhere else.

      • Booksellerlover

        @bff_hater I’m just about fed up with his constant ignorance as well. I was about to comment when I saw your’s. He obviously has a very askew point view.

    • Mo

      Could I possibly add a customer’s countercomplaint – when I go to a librarian and say “I am looking for This And That by So & So. The catalog says it’s there. I have looked in the shelves and it’s not there. I have also looked in the New Arrivals shelves. Is there any other display where it might be, or do you know if it was just checked out?” or to a bookstore employee and say the same minus the part about the catalog plus a “could you check on the computer and see if it’s really in stock?” Maybe they will do that, but first they always have to go back to those very same shelves I have just looked at, move the books around, check it three times, drill me on whether the catalog really said what it said, whether I am using the proper spelling of the author’s name, if I am really sure sure that that book exists, and generally treat me exactly the same as they would someone who just went up to them saying “I’m looking for a book.” It always ends with a “huh, that’s strange, it should be there” and a shrug. Which may be the way it should end, we should just have skipped all the in-between “I don’t believe you, you’re not smart enough to figure out a book is missing.” Very annoying.

      • jessiwithaneye

        Ok, so your saying that the employee checked the computer to see if it should be in stock, searched diligently in and around the section to see if they could find it, asked questions meant to clarify that they are, in fact, looking for the right thing, and somehow this was a failure of customer service? The computer only shows information about whether the book should be in stock and in a certain section. It doesn’t show that the book in question was picked up by a customer earlier in the day, carried across the store, and then shoved into a completely different section, or stolen, or purchased 5 minutes ago (if I remember correctly from my four years as a Borders employee, computer inventory updates were not immediate). We can do what we can do, but psychic abilities are not within our realm of attributes. There were times when I could do nothing more than shrug and say “yep, that’s weird. Should be here,” but I always followed it up with an offer to order the book. There were many more times when customers would tell me they had looked for the book, and, by using the techniques that you described, I would be able to find that book and make a sale.

      • Zoe

        TRUE. Whenever I couldn’t find a book at Borders or B&N, this is exactly what would happen. However, that is also true at Best Buy and other stores. You ask for help when you truly tried to find something, and all they do is check all the places you already looked. Then say “Huh, that’s strange, it should be there.” Some of us DO try to find the product first before asking you for help.

      • Mother Nature

        What’s very annoying to librarians is when you come over, insist you looked in the catalog, checked the shelves and it’s not in, and nine times out of 10 it is on the shelf right where it belongs, and the patron overlooked it, or it’s listed at the other branch, and the patron didn’t read that bit, yet insist you’re an idiot because you can’t make a book they want travel 15 miles in five minutes to suit their immediate needs. You obviously haven’t had to deal with belligerent people before, while giving a happy smile.

      • The Book Lady

        What else do you expect them to do? Seriously. The computer is not going to say, “It belongs in Sci Fi under Asimov, but some nimrod took it and left it in the cookbook section under Hazan.” The computer is a database of where it should be, not a GPS tracking device. Should librarians start combing through every book in the library on the random chance that they might find it that way?

      • Mk

        Booksellers tend to recheck a section first because 9 times out of 10, the customer looked in the wrong place. You may be the exception to the rule, and I’m sorry that’s frustrating for you. But booksellers are just playing the odds on this one.

      • Mo

        Zoe, Mother Nature and MK understood my point, whether they agreed or disagreed. Jessi and Book Lady totally missed that I was asking a) I already looked in the obvious spots, is there anywhere else I could be looking or b) can you check if it’s in stock, not asking them to magically produce a book that is obviously not there. Zoe, I guess you and I could come up with a customers and patrons list of gripes, too, if we were so inclined. Mother Nature, yes, I have had to deal with belligerent people before while giving a happy smile (if anyone who has ever been employed hasn’t, please let us know what that magic job was). I don’t know what’s so obvious about your assumption. It also rankles to apparently be the 1 in 10 who knows what she’s talking about and have to go through the loops of “are you sure? are you sure sure? no, you must be wrong – oh, wait, you’re right”. Mk, thank you for your answer. You put it very well, and I understand. That’s why I don’t get nasty with whoever is trying to help me, because I assume that’s the case, but since this article is all about griping, hey, I just wanted to throw in something from the other side.

      • Mother Nature

        Okay Mo, then try this: We are actually REQUIRED by management to check the shelves, then the computer (as I said, if not on shelves item is almost always listed at another branch). There are very rare instances when a book has ‘walked away’ (stolen), but only after we’ve re-checked your steps can I list a book as “missing”. Even then, I still am unable to perform the level of magic required to make a book appear before a patron, no matter how upset frustrated the patron may be–or in your case knowledgeable. Sometimes, we just can’t help, we just have to smile and say “sorry”, and that’s the best we can do. Unfortunately, if it’s in our system we can’t even get the item from another library.
        @ Other Meredith–I think we may be co-workers, or at least librarians separated at birth.

      • jessiwithaneye

        I guess I’m not understanding your point, Mo. Would you rather the bookseller or librarian say, “no, I don’t know of anywhere else it could be” and then go on about their business? That seems, to me, like a more negligent approach, especially given the number of times that I found books where the customer had already looked. For that matter, there were many times that I called another bookseller over to see if they saw a particular title if I wasn’t finding it. Sometimes people miss things. It’s not a judgement of the customer to double-check the section–it’s an attempt to find the missing item.

      • MelindaB

        When I’m working and I get a query like that, I do check the shelves, because often the book is there but overlooked, or was pushed behind the other books. Sometimes a book is shelved above or below where it belongs, and not everyone checks the surrounding area. I’ve also helped someone look for a book and they spotted it on the shelf when I missed it. It happens. It’s not a matter of saying, “You’re obviously too stupid to know what you’re doing,” it’s an attempt to double-check that the wanted item is not where it belongs, and to try to help the patron to the fullest extent.

      • Brooke

        I nirm

      • Brooke

        That post apparently should have started with “touch screens are evil”

        I totally understand why the employees assume that the person hasn’t looked properly, the same way that tech support makes you redo basic troubleshooting and that’s fine, but my frustration on this comes less from the fact that books get moved, lost, stolen, or shelved incorrectly and more from the fact that realize that if the

      • eli

        It’s the same reason tech support lines always make you go through all the steps you’ve already gone through: unfortunately, even though you are not a complete idiot, most people are.

    • fg

      @ Other Meriidith, I also work in a library, and have to say that most of these points sound familiar to me too. What I do find funny is how hard my library is trying to seem like a bookstore (displaying books by subject, comfortable seating areas, reference people in the stacks wearing headsets, we even gave away coffee for a while) while more and more bookstores are going out of business. Makes me even more worried for the future of libraries.

    • Brooke

      I actually had to tell a woman that she couldn’t just leave her kids in the kid’s section while she ran out and did some more shopping in some other stores. Seriously? >.<

  • Monty

    Man oh man I could have written something just like this/better back when I worked at tthe video store… It just so happened that I quit working there a month before it closed. Had I been working there when it closed, something like this would have been up. Its kind of amazing how similar my complaints would have been…

  • sarah d

    This list is great! I will be leaving my kids at home from now on when I visit the book store. People’s souls should stay intact.

    • Bookgirl

      Sarah, please don’t leave your children home- we love the joy on a child’s face when they discover a new book or toy at our store! What we don’t love? The parent who wants to browse the poetry section for an hour and thinks the 5 year old will be fine unsupervised; the dad who looks at history books while his toddlers run around shrieking and pulling books off the shelves; the mom who says to us, ” I’m just going to pop into the deli next door for a quick second- could you keep an eye on them for me?”. Bring your kids- just be prepared to parent and discipline them!

      • Ronnie1

        I also stocked and opened and worked at a Waldenbooks about 30 years ago…yeah. And back then we were barely learning to use computers to order inventory,,,Most of the points on the “manifesto” were true then. I especially remember the countless paper cups and food wrappers left behind in the children’s section. I LOVED helping a customer find a new author, or sharing my personal fave children’s book. But technology, via e-books and tablets, has had a detrimental effect on brick-and-mortar stores. And though I’ve bought a few books from Amazon, it still would be great to TALK to a person face-to-face…

    • Kinna

      I’ve never worked in a bookstore, but as a customer I really HATE when people let their children damage books. If I’m going to pay $25 for a book and your kid folded the cover over or ripped a few pages, I’m going to be mad. If you’re bringing your kid into a store (any store!) Watch them and don’t let them damage merchandise!

    • Other

      Not only is it great to see the children enjoy the materials, but taking them to a store teaches them a lot! A good role model will show them how to respect the space that is used by others, how to respect materials that are used by others, and lastly how to respect others!

    • Kira

      Yes, please bring your children in. Just please don’t think that I am a babysitter, I’m not. Don’t leave 5,000 books your child pulled off the shelf on the floor where they threw them or in a heap on the table. At least make an effort. I love it when we have kids in the store, just not when they leave a mess that take 40 minutes to an hour to clean up…

      Also, story-time is not nanny gossip time. It’s not your cigarette break. It’s not snack time. It’s story time. Do you job, nannys! I’m not paid to make sure the kids YOU are supposed to be watching to rip books in half, thank you very much. :)

  • Keith

    I work in customer service, too, and yes, people can be incredibly annoying. But the whole point of the job is to ignore that and help people as best you can. That is the job! Jesus. Welcome to being a grown-up!

    • Luddite

      Yeah, but having worked in customer service myself, I’d argue that the customers need a periodic reminder that they too are grown-ups and should behave thusly.

      • Don

        Perhaps you two, but I think the better argument and the larger point is to get a quality education so you don’t have to spend your days in some soon-to-be-completely-outdated physical bookstore while toiling in some largerly menial customer serice position dealing with often annoying people.

      • s

        Having read your other comments, Don, I can only assume you’re trolling and know perfectly well that the majority of Borders employees had a degree (or often, several.)

      • Don

        I know the poor economy has steamrolled over the lives of many the last couple of years, s, but multiple degrees could earn some nothing more than a quasi-lackey gig as a floor walker or cashier at now-defunct Borders? Really? I find that a bit hard to believe, but whatever, sucks to be them if that’s true (and to think many of them presumably have no job at all now).

    • Lauren

      It’s called “Things We Never Told You.” The employees did suck it up and were grown-ups.

      • Jennifer

        Exactly! This is the stuff we thought while we put a smile on our faces and helped every customer regardless of how nice or nasty they were to us. We realized customer service was our job – that doesn’t mean we couldn’t THINK someone was an idiot when they asked for the book with the blue cover that was on a display table a month ago.

      • Don

        Gee Jenny, you weren’t actually naive and dumb enough to believe that most customers assumed you honestly gave a s**t about them or would particularly care if they knew you really didn’t were you?

    • jessiwithaneye

      That’s correct. It is the job. That’s why we did it, and did it well. I was being a grown-up when I didn’t spit back at the man who spat at me because I had to count a cash drawer to verify his claim that he’d been short-changed. I explained politely what the policy was, was in the process of trying to rectify the situation, and was rewarded by flying saliva. There’s a certain form of bullying that takes place every day in the customer service industry, in which people unleash their personal frustrations on the people who are working, simply because those people have no recourse (if they want to remain employed). I would say that, after years of sucking it up and being the bigger person in the face of those experiences, and then losing their jobs due to corporate mismanagement (without severance packages, to boot), the people who wrote that list were probably just venting. I can hardly blame them.

      • Ronnie1

        Amen!!! I’ve been on both sides of the check-out lane, and I’ve cringed when I see and hear other customers abuse store employees. I try very hard to remember what it felt like for me, and treat those employees well. And those employees should ALSO keep in mind that they are there to serve the customer, and should be well-versed in what their store has, or doesn’t have in stock. It’s the same with any job: you have to learn what the company is all about, and you carry that with you…you are the “face” of that company.

      • PDDB

        If this list was about employees venting, then this list should have reflected more company mismanagement items and less whiny things about customers, authors and general book selling – all of which were basic parts of their jobs. Instead this list comes across as people griping about their job, their customers and the people that provide and endorse their products. Hardly the kind of people with whom I would want to work.

      • Andy

        Alright then PDDB, where do you work?

      • etm

        That is awful!! I hope you called the police on that nasty man.

      • PDDB

        Andy – I can tell you where I don’t work…..EW. Else I would have provided more balance in this article.

      • t3hdow


        That would make perfect sense…if the employees interacted with the corporate side of Borders instead of the customer side. With a chain store like Borders, guess which one they’ll experience 98% of the time and will stick far longer in their minds?

        And of course the article is one-sided. All EW did was post a list someone else wrote.

      • PDDB

        t3hdow – We don’t know if it was just one person’s viewpoint or if this was a collection of viewpoints published under one name. We can guess that this person is speaking from a basic “associate on the floor” position. But even from that perspective, we could have gotten a lot more insightful items. And unfortunately EW could have been less lazy than just publishing this whiny list. Some of their writers are very creatively insightful. I kind of lament this wasted opportunity.

        Perhaps as a counterpoint, ex-employees should describe their great Borders experiences – if there were any.

    • Mifty

      So they had contempt for their customers and rotten politics. I think I see the problem here.

    • Don

      Maybe, but I think the better argument and the larger point is to get a quality education so you don’t have to spend your days in some soon-to-be-completely-outdated bookstore while toiling in some largely menial customer service position dealing with often annoying people.

      • jessiwithaneye

        I had a quality education when I was working there, and I have since acquired another college degree. I wasn’t working there out of inability to find a different job. I genuinely enjoyed working in a bookstore. At that point in my life, I was willing to tolerate the low income as a trade for the things that I liked about working there. What irritates me is the assumption that anyone who makes that choice must be too incompetent/unintelligent/undereducated/unmotivated to do anything else. I’m an RN now, and I can honestly say that I learned things while working at Borders that have made me a more competent nurse. Sometimes a choice that is right for someone at a particular point in life might not be the choice you would make, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the validity of that person’s choice. Context plays a bigger role than that.

  • Cat

    This was hilarious, as I’m a bookstore clerk from long ago. Always enjoyed the mangled titles of books–I was once asked where “The Quiet Sheep” was located. Turns out it was Silence of the Lambs!

    • googliezoo

      Oh my God, that is too funny!

    • Josh

      I worked at Borders. Best one: “The Calamari Crystal”. :)

    • Mk

      I think my favorite is still “King Lear by Macbeth.”

    • HDM

      Sure, as if you morons haven’t made a million idiotic references in your own irrelevant lives.

      • Heather

        I’ve made plenty, and I’ve laughed at myself too. It is just ironic that we were often looked down upon as inferior entities by people who couldn’t even articulate what they wanted from us.

      • HDM

        True Heather, but the point is that the hypocrisy and irony run both ways as those who work in customer service generally don’t have an ounce more use or respect deep down for those they serve than often annoying and arrogant customers have for employees if truth be told..

  • Peter

    The Oprah one is snobbish. I never looked to Oprah’s list for reading advice, but I’ve inadvertently read several of them — Freedom, One Hundred Years of Solitude, A Tale of Two Cities. Several more are on my to-read list. You could do a whole lot worse.

    • Liza

      I agree, sometimes I happened to have the same taste as Oprah. I once got an attitude when I bought East of Eden. It had a huge Oprah sticker on it and the clerk seemed to notice this. I read it a few years ago when I was still in high school and just wanted to read it again and own a copy. I guess I may as well be an Oprah sheep.

      • Don

        Might as well be an Oprah sheep? The point you were originally making in that post wasn’t awful but devolved and ended badly with that bit of fawning idiocy. Also, nothing wrong with wanting a permanent copy of a book you’ve read in the past, but I’ll never understand people and the fairly odd compulsion to consume the same movies and books multiple times when there are literally MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of different movies and books in the world. Expand your minds people, no need to re-read a book (especially something as long and involved as East of Eden) when you can instead experience something new.

      • Seth


        What’s wrong with re-reading a favorite book numerous times? I’ve happily re-read dozens of my favorite books (and re-watched quite a few of my favorite films as well), and yet I am still able to experience new literary/cinematic experiences. Nothing odd about that.

        By the way, your post is very pretentious, and, let’s be honest, expresses a very uncommon opinion (which is usually a good thing. Not this time).

      • Liza

        I still think my point is a valid one. I wanted to buy the book because I enjoyed it in the past and wanted to own a copy. There is nothing wrong with this. When I read it in high school I had to read it pretty quickly and I feel like I had more time to enjoy it now and appreciate it as an adult. I like to read books multiple times, what is so wrong with that? I also read about 60 to 70 new books every year not including textbooks so I think I’m allowed to re read something I liked every once in awhile.

      • Brooke

        I reread stuff all the time! Sometimes, I’m not in a great mood, so I’ll hunt down one of my favorite Terry Pratchett books for some laughs. Doesn’t matter I can usually quote the thing.
        I’m always keeping my eye out for things I might like that are new, and doing so has led me to some of my favorite authors. But some days, you just want to pull a book with a well-worn spine down off your shelf and go visit old friends.

    • Kuren

      I wouldn’t say the Oprah one is snobbish. As a poor soul that has experienced the……experience of being a bookseller, I have to say this: I quickly grew tired of having a customer throw a fit because I didn’t know what book was on or not on Oprah’s reading list.
      My store didn’t have Oprah’s list on hand I didn’t get paid to watch Oprah at home, and I have no particular inclination to watch Oprah at home. So I fail to see why yelling at me and threatening to get my manager to fire me (ps: they never did) could have EVER helped to find these vaguely described books.

      • Acaseofgeo

        But Kuren, THAT’S YOUR JOB. You want a paycheck? Then you NEED TO MAKE THAT SALE. Being in business means “KNOW WHAT IS SELLING”. And Oprah, like her OR not (cuz I sure am not a fan) helped to sustain the book-selling industry. So IF you OR your employer WERE SMART, you would KNOW WHAT IS HOT. GOT IT? Good. Cuz now Borders is out of business. Everyone else, use this list as an example.

      • Joe

        @ Acaseofgeo I can’t tell whether you’re kidding or not. But if you’re not you’re a major tool.

      • Peter

        I wouldn’t have worded it like Acaseofgeo, but I agree in part. Oprah’s list was/is popular. It has a huge influence on what books people have heard of and are interested in buying. If you sell books, it would be the peak of naivete to ignore that.

      • Sally

        No Acaseofgeo. It was not the employee’s job to know the latest book on Oprah’s list. It was management’s job to know the info and inform their employees.

      • Molly

        No more caffeine for you Acaseofgeo!

      • Mindy

        If you are working at a bookstore, the real question is “Why the heck DIDN’T your store have Oprah’s list posted?” Those books sell. Heck, my favorite USED bookstore has Oprah’s entire list posted in the store.

      • @acaseofgeo

        ……..were you raped by a bookseller? :-/

      • The Book Lady

        Oprah greatly influenced the bookselling industry, but she diverted it, she did not sustain it. Certain authors benefitted from her suggestions, and bookstores became aware of her influence and catered to it, but there have always been media outlets with a strong, and more diverse, effect on book sales.

    • Mr. Effing Tea Party

      Oprah has done nothing but ruin this country. That’s the real secret! Plus I’m pretty sure she’s a muslin for Gayle.

  • Chaz

    I was a bookseller many years ago, and some things never change! Experienced most of this w/customers.

    RIP Borders,

  • MWeyer

    Having been through work at a video store, a movie theater and a Target, more than used to idiotic customer stuff. My current job at UPS has exposed me to such things as people assuming they can put just the first name of the person a package is meant for and that “near Los Angeles” counts as a proper city/zip code.

    • Brooke

      Ahahaha! You should write a list like this. ^_^

  • John

    ” It never bothered us when you threatened to shop at Barnes & Noble.” Which might be why they get to stay open and you’re closing.

    • Kelly

      Borders’ store-level employees have absolutely nothing to do with the success (or failure) of Barnes & Noble, just as Borders’ store-level employees had absolutely NOTHING to do with the failure of Borders. It’s true that Barnes & Noble “get to stay open”…for now. But for how much longer? Borders’ troubles started a little higher up the ladder than at store-level. Maybe B&N will learn from our demise…maybe not…

      • Roger C.

        Barnes and noble has snotty employees too Kelly.

      • Tarc

        I shopped at Borders for many, many years in Ann Arbor and was in a store weekly (if not more). I NEVER had bad customer service at Borders. The problem that was mentioned is one that all retail people face – stupid, crazy, lazy, mean, and rude people.

    • Dr. Bob

      Hey, John, why don’t you open a can of shut the hell up. It may be one thing to do that at a single-store bookstore, but chains? A lot of different things have to go wrong for a store as big as Borders to close.

    • KJ

      I have worked at B&N. All these comments are still true there.

      • steph

        All those comments can be true for any retail workplace. I worked at Walmart in high school and on breaks from college – substitute books for clothes and I feel like I wrote this list!

    • Alan

      “It never bothered us when you threatened to shop at Barnes and Noble”. For sure. Behind our smiling faces, we were thinking “Let me give you the directions. Or I can call a cab for you. Forget it, that’ll too long. I’ll give you a drive. And when you get there, be sure to tell them Alan sent you.”

      • Chris

        Hey jerk, I got that customer you sent. After getting him to calm down I told him I couldn’t help either. He threatened to go to Amazon, so I bought him a computer. Those fools over at Amazon wont know what hit them.

      • Sanji

        This is Sanji at the Amazon Call Center in India. I just spent the last two hours on the phone with that guy. What a rectum!

      • Debbie from Shakespeare and Co

        Hey Chris, an irate man who didn’t like my customer service skills is on his way to your store. I told him to ask for you personally. He’ll say “Debbie from Shakespeare and Company sent me (this will, no doubt, be the only sentence he says without a swear word in it)” . Believe me, he’s going to make the guy Alan sent over look like little Miss Sunshine.

      • Heather

        I’ve worked at Walden, B& N and Books-A-Million, I laughed loudly at this exchange. Thanks :)

      • Brooke

        I love you all. ^_^ I can’t stop laughing. This is so true.

      • Jasper

        I work in tech support for an ISP — fairly large in my country, not something you’d have heard of. We’re on the cheap end of the scale. Every time someone calls us — let alone with a difficult problem, ie takes a while — that customer is not profitable for the next six to twelve months. If it takes multiple calls, or multiple technicians? More like 5 years.

        And yet we solve these problems, we do our utmost to fix things — but when it’s taking a while due to circumstances beyond our control, and you say you want to go to another ISP? Be our guest. Even considering the already sunk cost, we’ll most certainly come out ahead.

  • Diana

    And this encompasses why I stayed away from Borders, and why I do all of my book shopping through Amazon. I hate these snobby bookstore employees who think they’re better than the people who give them a reason to have a job – they always seemed rude.

    Sure customers can be bad – that’s customer service for you. If you don’t like it, find another job.

    • Moo

      I agree 100%. If you don’t like a customer service job, don’t work in customer service. And frankly, maybe this is part of the reason Borders is now defunct. It seems their bratty employees now have plenty of time to go to school and get better jobs. But wait; they are liberal idiots who will probably just sit on their front porches, do drugs, and whine about Glenn Beck.

      • gimmeabreak

        You tea partiers slay me. I always imagine cranky rants like this being voiced through Montgomery Burns.

      • Kate

        Actually, when I worked at Borders, EVERY SINGLE OTHER EMPLOYEE IN THE STORE was working a second job or going to school. Some, like me, were doing BOTH. Bratty employees are everywhere, even in YOUR job. No one should be expected to smile politely while a customer treats you like garbage. Common courtesy should not disappear when you are asking someone to help you. If you walk up to someone with attitude and ask for their aid, I will never understand why you think you deserve to get treated with a sweet smile and undivided attention. Borders went down because of CORPORATE, not because of the people who served you every day. Until you have worked for a company in their final days, worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills next month when the company closes, I don’t think you should be able to judge the hundreds who came to work every day with a smile, gave 150% customer service and STILL had to listen to people like you complain.

      • Montgomery Burns


      • heston 2012


      • An Average Sized Mustache

        Sounds like Moo doesn’t understand that by and large NOBODY wants to work in customer service. There are several reasons why people end up working at places like Borders but none of them have to do with a love of customer service. Why do people take these jobs? Desperation mostly.

      • Kace

        That’s right, Average. Customer service is exalted as being THE most important thing in the world until it comes time for payday. Employees in customer service of some type usually make livable wage (even minimum wage). It is different when you are the owner of the shop AND also work the counter (as was more the case in the old days). Now the owner rarely sees the customer, yet makes the big decisions and puts pressure on those who do, with minimum compensation or respect.

      • Jennifer

        Actually customer service in individual stores has very little to do with why Borders failed. It was a chain of seriously questionable decisions on the corporate level (over-expansion, failure to anticipate the e-book trend, temporarily relinquishing control of their website operations to Amazon, etc.) that brought on the company’s demise.

      • Kace

        Bottom line though is that no one wants to be treated rudely–customers or employees. If you ask a “dumb” question but are nice, that can be annoying, but it’s okay. If you are having a bad day but still try to be helpful to customers rather than just have an “attittude” that’s okay too. “The customer is always right” is incorrect, but the customer should be given the benefit of the doubt. As should staff.

      • Dave

        In Bloomington, Illinois, the Borders employees were snotty and more interested in their conversations than in helping us.

        I miss the store but not the people at our Borders.

      • jballaviator

        Really it’s the overpaid high and mighty attitudes like this that are dragging the country into the gutter

      • 5 year bookseller

        OVERPAID? I hope you are not talking about retail employees….
        The only people who make a living doing this are managers.
        I’m “full time” (30-32 hours a week) and I’m still considering going on food stamps because I can barely afford to pay rent and eat at the same time.

      • Liza

        I was laid off and worked at a call center in it’s final days and I know what it’s like to worry about how you will pay the bills. So, I guess I can complain about the guy who gave me attitude when I asked a simple question in the most polite and unintrusive manner I possibly could. I also worked with many people who had second jobs and were going to school, myself included but we still gave great customer service even when we were being cussed out because it’s just the right thing to do. Maybe it didn’t please our immediate petty feelings to act rude in return but we were getting paid to be professional and courteous so that’s what we did…til the bitter end.

      • Tarc

        Wow, what a magnificent example of a true obnoxious idiot.

      • Brooke

        Oi, jballaviator!! You come tell me to my face I’m overpaid when I’m working two jobs, STILL on food stamps, and going to school! I’ll set you straight in a hurry. -.-

    • Scott

      Well when I worked at a bookstore I hated the snobby attitude of many of the customers. Retail worker does not equal servant. I’m there to help you find books and ring up sales – not watch your kid while you shop or try to read your mind when all you can do is remember the color of the book cover. Retail workers are people too, treat them with respect and you will get excellent customer service. Treat them like crap and you get what you deserve.

      • Janice

        Well said Scott.

      • heston 2012

        Ditto !

      • apowell

        Where’s the commenter who always says “America loves crap” when you need him?

      • HDM

        Speak for yourself as whomever you’re referencing is not someone I need in any way.

      • agonzales


    • Arnie

      I can understand why you feel like Amazon is the best place for your business. Just reading your post has flashed what a smug pompous road Apple you are on this trail we call life. Who would want to serve you in person?

      • jballaviator

        Yes yes, sit at home and give your bad attitude and illiterate tea party remarks to your computer screen where they belong.

    • I’m just sayin’

      Could Entertainment Weekly stop riding Borders’ jock and bringing itself to orgasm with this fluff?!

    • BigKat

      I agree that Borders’ employees were snobs, yet they also had some really cool people working there. And who really is red necked enough to disagree about that scary Glenn Beck? Gotta be a lil’ vexed by that fool. I’m gonna miss Borders’ existence cos’ they place of choice to buy books and media, and their customer support team was really good.

  • Peter

    For the record, I never had a problem with Borders employees. If they were unhappy, they hid it well. I suspect this sign wasn’t at a store near me.

  • Felix

    You forgot the people who assume that every store sells everything. When I worked in a bookstore, I had a guy ask if we carried office chairs.

    • etm


  • Valley Girl

    The gripe about never being a daycare is golden. Even though I’m a mother, I never brought my preschooler in. Though some parents made themselves at home, comfy cozy on the floor, reading entire books (libraries are still open, BTW!), kids running in every direction. I had to double check that any books I bought for my daughter did not have ripped pages or bite marks in them…

    • norez

      I’m a former booksller (always indies, never chains) – one time a woman came up with a children’s book that looked like it had been savaged by wild dogs. “I left her alone for a few minutes and when I came back….” said the mother. “What should I do?”
      “Pay for the book,” I advised, sympathetically but firmly. “Really?” she asked.

      “REALLY?” She asked.

      Points to her at least for actually coming to us (maybe that’s why she was puzzled that she still needed to pay for the thing….) Most of the time stuff like this would be jammed into a bookcase for us to find later. Happened every single day.

    • Liv

      Agreed. I worked in an art supply store in college, we had a lot of breakable and delicate equipment (ahem expensive too) and I could not believe how many people just unleashed their children in our store. It’s three aisles of precarioulsy stacked canvas, brushes, clay, wire, tools, etc. etc. Do you really think your child should be allowed to run through the aisles ripping things from shelves? I do not. You can bet if little precious smashed her fingers in a vice though it would be my fault. One time we had a woman come in with her kids and the kids destroyed three paintbrushes that cost a good $60 each and when I told her the cost she said that was outrageous, I told her it was outrageous that she let her kids run wild in a store full of specialized products that tend to cost more than the average crayola water color brush.

      • Mr. Effing Tea Party

        Those children are patriots! They knew artsy types were going to use those brushes to say mean things about Republicans! Brushes! I don’t like it!

      • apowell

        Mr. Tea Party I bet is a liberal trying to make Tea Partiers look bad

      • eli

        Of COURSE s/he’s a liberal, it’s obviously satire, and tea partiers don’t actually need any help looking bad. They do fine on their own.

    • Bookgirl

      I can beat that! Had a customer come to the counter to pay for a book with her 3 year old trailing behind. As soon as the transaction started the child started throwing a fit, wanting something. Turns out, he wanted to keep drawing with ball point inside the cover of the hardback biography the mother had been considering buying. SHE LET HIM. Then she told him to give her the pen back and handed the book to me, saying she had decided against it, while giving me the eye challenge with attitude. I was so…astounded? appalled? amazed? that I couldn’t find the words and she walked out. Luckily, I had her credit card number and a hard a** boss who watched her bottom line and didn’t take crap, so I passed it on to her the next day and she got her money!

      • Becca

        As an employee who closed a store in April…I just have to say AMEN to all of that list….and Thank You to whomever put the list together!

      • apowell

        I would too, Becca!

      • Peter

        Wow. I’m on your side with being appalled at that, but I’m pretty sure that still constitutes jail time for the manager.

      • Bebe

        You should have hit that woman over the head with the book when she handed it to you. By the way, agree with Peter. What your manager did was illegal.

      • Tom

        I don’t know that it was illegal to charge the customer, but what the customer did certainly was illegal – destruction of private property.

      • Dave

        If you rent a car and bring it back damaged they don’t ask your permission to charge your card, and neither should have he.

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