Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Ideal Book Provider

Inspired by Eugene Volokh's gripe here and the previous discussion of ideal subways, I wanted to make a list of the characteristics of the ideal book provider (library and bookstore versions):

A library should:

1. Permit you to renew items, preferably online, at least once.
2. Allow easy online access to the catalogs of other branches and affiliated library systems so you can request books that are not available at your local library before making the trip to your branch.
3. Have a sticker on the spine to indicate the book's genre, categorize books by genre, or preferably both.
4. Dump book jackets. Crinkly, slippery cellophane does not make for an enjoyable reading experience, and the jackets inevitably suffer damage and come untaped.
5. Have self-checkout stations like a grocery store. Any idiot can scan a bar code and check out a book. Why wait for a clerk?
6. Be open on the weekend and in the evening. Working people want books too!
7. Deliver requested or recalled books to any library, not just the main branch (I'm looking at you, Harvard Library. Why can't you deliver to the law library instead of making me trek to Widener?)

Bookstores should:
1. Have comfortable chairs and a cafe area.
2. Place search terminals in publicly accessible areas. It sucks to wait five minutes so a clerk can type a title and tell me that they don't have any copies of a book when I could have discovered that disappointing fact myself.
3. Set up tables of award winners, local authors, and other themed groupings of books.
4. Display lists of award winners (genre award lists near the genre shelves).
5. Display lists of soon-to-be-released books near the counter so you can put in an advance order.

Any other suggestions?
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