Chapters Indigo become irrelevant

First there were the “you must pay for your magazines before having a coffee” billboards in the stores, then the censored version of the Internet on the in-store net kiosks, now they’re taking out the comfortable chairs. Is there any reason left to shop at Chapters Indigo?

Their bookstores are now simply shopworn holding pens for poorly trained ill-read staff with a paltry collection of newly released books masquerading as a “huge selection.”

Now that all the fun things about their stores will be gone (stop by, read some magazines, have a coffee, buy some books), why would anyone go there? Go to for selection, and the locals, who still have a soul, for browsing.

Or, better yet, go local for everything. If the Bookmark wasn’t so claustrophobic and the Reading Well not so moldy, we’d be set up pretty well in Charlottetown.


Daniel Simeone's picture
Daniel Simeone on April 2, 2002 - 03:33 Permalink

It’s all about The Bookmark. Besides, what makes for a better book buying experience than a cute little dog?

On a side note, if anyone is ever in Wolfville, NS there is a kick-ass little book store called The Odd Book that has a wonderful selection.

-Daniel Simeone, Islander away at school

D's picture
D on January 9, 2004 - 07:08 Permalink

It’s a big corporate business, with it’s big corporate business priority, (note the singular)MONEY. The removing of chairs, however, was in fact one of the ONLY smart decisions that Indigo/Chapters made. The amount of damage incurred by careless, oblivious customers who insisted on leaving mounds of freshly browsed books strewn about the floor around the provided chairs was increadible. The amount of waste due to damages in unacceptable, not for the monitary loss, but for the environmental one. This is not to mention the underpaid, underappreciated and overworked staff whose workload grew exponentially as a result. Next time you encounter an untrained and poorly read indigo staff member, stop and think that maybe their desire to offer any real help has been repeatedly crushed by the stacks of books and magazines that you continually left for them to pick up at your seat. Spoiled Ignorant Consumer!

G Powers's picture
G Powers on February 19, 2004 - 20:06 Permalink

Some of the staff in Chapters stores are not only ill-trained but they are dishonest. Recently I had an experience with one Chapters employee who claimed to be the manager of the Chapters store in Mississauga (Square One) who declined to return a book, which was not even taken out of their plastic bag, within their policy (14 days).

I love books and as a result I like book stores but I was disappointed to see this Chapters employee who actually lied saying the he is the Store Manager (though without confidence) to not let me see the manager. I found it unjustifiable to not able to return a book (unopened) within the policy on their receipt. I will think twice before I shop in Chapters anymore.
This particular employee was may be trying to please his superior by showing that he works to improve the bottom line of his company thus damaging the integrity and corporate culture of Chapters-Indigo

space's picture
space on March 2, 2004 - 02:57 Permalink

I work at chapters myself. I must agree with the previosu post by “D”. I am underpayed and overworked and underapreciated. Yes it was a good decision to get rid of the chairs. It frustrates me when i have customers giving me an earfull about how much they hate that we took out the chairs. MAYBE CHAPTERS JUST WOKE UP AND SUDDENLY REALIZED THIS ISN”T A LIBRARY??!! Why can’t customers take responsibilty for their part in causing us to remove the chairs in the first place. We had HUNDREDS of damaged books because of distrespectful customers who treated our store WORSE than a library. Atleast most don’t willfully damage books at libraries. Bottom line: Chapters is a business it is not a service (as a library is).

nathan's picture
nathan on March 2, 2004 - 08:50 Permalink

space: And that’s why it’s irrelevant now. If Chapters now exists just to sell books then why stop with just the chairs? Get rid of the store altogether and just sell through a catalog or a website. Better yet, let’s just buy from

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 2, 2004 - 09:50 Permalink

Chapters entered the market based on the “we’re a gathering space” value proposition. We passively accepted the death of the independent bookstore because we recognized the additional value that being able to browse and read books, in a comfortable chair, afforded. Now that the independents are gone, Chapters removes the value proposition, and we are left with mostly soul-free Wal-martesque book warehouses.

Louise's picture
Louise on May 26, 2004 - 15:30 Permalink

Peter, it’s time for you to update! This independent is NOT gone.The Reading Well is no longer ‘moldy’ (we’ve moved to Water St.)- reinvented so to speak, and although you may have had a “well, a croissant…” that didn’t move you, we do have chairs for our customers and encourage them to sit in them while browsing and enjoying a coffee. Free!
I have never had a customer ‘wilfully damage’ a book.
I guess respect and appreciation does count for something. So why have people given up on the independents to shop at Chapters/Indigo? Soul-free I guess.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 26, 2004 - 15:35 Permalink

Lousie, you’re right: your new location on Water Street isn’t moldy at all. But you gotta admit that the *old* location on University Ave. was pretty mold-intensive. Kudos on your move.

Chapters Book Seller's picture
Chapters Book Seller on August 5, 2004 - 02:02 Permalink

I am oen of the booksellers at Chapters. We removed the chairs due to the order from the Home Office, since upon their investigation they discovered that the bookstores had started to resemble libraries. And, after all, it is a
B-O-O-K-S-T-O-R-E and not a L-I-B-R-A-R-Y. We have received many complains since we removed the comfy chairs, and we apologize for any incovenenice it could have caused you. Also sorry for the lack of professional staff, but I can assure you that the vast majority of us have been thoroughly trained to serve our customers the best we possibly can.

fancy's picture
fancy on February 28, 2005 - 01:05 Permalink

I’m a Chapters staff myself and I sincerely believe most of us are well-trained and we do offer to help customers. FOr those of you who are frsutrated at our customer service, go to another retail store and you will appreciate our service even more. We ARE underpaid, overworked (my shifts are from 4-11pm) and we DO get treated poorly by ignorant people who grab a lot of books and magazines and leave them in a stack in the corner. I’m not your mother people! I’m not even CLOSE to being a mother, I’m a 16 year-old high school student trying to make some money while working at a fair environment. Don’t expect to pay for your stuff RIGHT away after you’re done browsing and NO we’re not slow cashiers or off bad services, hwo can we help you to the fullest potential when there are already 2or 3 customers we’re handling PLUS the phone ringing off the hook? Sure you’re mad you cant return the book, but come on, you obviously already read it and didnt like the plot and jsut want to use us as a library. WE’re still reasonable people here. Stop the disrespect and go to the library.

Eric's picture
Eric on December 1, 2005 - 00:55 Permalink

Hmmm… we still have the chairs at our local Chapters stores (I live in Ottawa… I’m not sure about the one downtown or the new Indigo that just opened, but I know that the one in the south end of the city where I live actually got brand new ones that are even nicer recently. Anyway, this is funny timing because I was just offered a customer service position with Chapters Indigo today, so all I can say is that I’ll whip these guys into shape for you! ;-)

joe's picture
joe on December 1, 2005 - 15:39 Permalink

A few years back I went to Indigo, Charlottetown, to buy anything by George Bowering, who had just been named Canadian poet laureate. No one there heard of him (but what teenager has?), nor was anything by Bowering in tne store. However, one gentleman clerk did his best to help me out. I always thought the service at Indigo was good.

Previous to this I went to the Bookmark on Queen St looking for a copy of James Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.” I asked the owner (?)if he had one. He said something like: “Row one, botton shelf, third from the end.” And there it was.

Chapters Bookseller's picture
Chapters Bookseller on January 18, 2006 - 11:16 Permalink

The only real way for any bookseller to know where everything is, is to have worked at that store for a long time. Theres litterally millions of books in any given chapters, and it is impossible to know where absolutely everything is, all the time. If a bookseller put a particular book on the shelf, they are more than likely to be able to tell you exactly where to find it. However, as (at least in the chapters I work in) there are 50 or so employees, the chances of everyone knowing where everything is is insane.

As for the chair issue, half of my shift revolves around cleaning up the messes of books that customers have left behind. Most people would say “so what, it’s your job”. This is not true though. Its my job to selves books and to help customers find what they are looking for. As a result, I get in trouble when I fall behind in my duties because of cleaning up.

Kyle's picture
Kyle on January 18, 2006 - 11:16 Permalink

I’ve been working with chapters for almost 2 years now, and yes.. yes.. As stated we ARE underpaid, but none of you have given a rough estimate of a number! Well let me fill you in then. Minimum wage in Alberta is now $7.00 if i’m not mistaken, we don’t make minimum wage.. We make $7.15 an hour, our managers camp out in the office for (sometimes) hours at a time just browsing the internet or with friends, however if we’re found talking for more than 60 seconds in a dead empty store with another employee… The managers will stay quiet, and bring it up on a review just to screw you out of that raise. My raise was held back for THREE reviews because of ONE NIGHT where another employee had came in to shop and she didn’t work in the sector, so i helped her find what she was looking for while chatting at the same time, because of this i was written up. Any suggestions made are quickly declined because “That’s not what head office wants”. Head office does NOT work in retail amongst the ignorant customers who get aggrovated at the smallest thing’s because they don’t know how to call ahead. If management had any faith in their employees they’d take these suggestions into consideration to not only make for a friendlier work environment, but improved work methods and increased profits under circumstances. Our theft rates are so ridiculously high, instead of installing cameras, we get a singular Loss Prevention man who comes in once or twice a week to watch the entire store, not to mention he’s supposed to look “like a casual customer”, I’ve yet to see one of our LP guy’s that haven’t looked like an escaped criminal with high intent of robbing the store, and on several occassions i’ve had customers come to me with concerns of who he is. I will be leaving this company in 3 weeks time when i return from my trip, and i will never look back. The people are amazing, but the job can be improved tenfold, because ultimately we don’t go to work to make friends, we go to pay bills, support our families, or even make some pocket change. And for the way we’re treated by our managers AND customers, and the way we’re paid.. There’s plenty of other companies with much better policies.

Konichiwa's picture
Konichiwa on January 18, 2006 - 11:54 Permalink

Ok, I don’t work at Chapters, but I really must say, I DO NOT enjoy shopping there, and I only do so when I am desperate for a book but cannot find them at smaller retailers like Coles or Smithbooks.
Last time I walked into the NE Chapters in Calgary, I was immediately trapped within the electronic doorway. There was no sign, and I could neither exit nor enter, as the repairman was just inside playing with the box. I think he enjoyed it when I was forced to sit on the damp carpet as he “fixed” the locked mechanism.
Also, they serve free coffee at this place. I went to get coffee, and this bald techno skinhead touched my ass. What a weird guy. I immediately told him to “Lay the f*** off me you bald techno skinhead, I’m trying to drink coffee here.”
He then proceeded to force me into a beanbag chair and I screamed but nobody heard me. I punched his face and told him to go suck a Christmas Tree, which he quickly did. Watching from outside as I called the cops, I noticed he had brought in a ladder and started sucking off and licking the big star at the top of the Christmas Tree that was on display.

Paul G.'s picture
Paul G. on January 18, 2006 - 12:03 Permalink

Konichiwa, at first that sounded completely irrelevant and untrue. But I actually work at this particular branch, and I know exactly the person you’re talking about.
First off is, I’m sorry that he did that to you. We did have several complaints that one of the employees was occasionally harassing the last-minute customers after closing.
Second, we have gotten rid of the beanbags, and the coffe machine, too many books have been ruined by the stains, and one of the beanbags broke. It took is a full staff armed with vacuums to get rid of all the tiny styrofoam balls.
Again, I must professionally apologize for this inconvenience, said employee was arrested last weekend, he won’t be making any more lewd gestures I can assure you.

G POWERS's picture
G POWERS on January 19, 2006 - 03:17 Permalink

Strangely enough I believe you.

Agatha Quynn's picture
Agatha Quynn on June 20, 2006 - 05:47 Permalink

I arrived a couple of weeks ago to Calgary. I was looking for a job, and actually the very first place that came to my mind to apply.. that I would really enjoy to work for was Chapters. So, I left my resume but the cashier told me that they didnt have any job placements at the time. I really felt very sad about it and I hoped that sometime they could call me. Some days later I got an interview.. it was a suprise.

I was very nervous. I have to tell that the interviews at Chapters are though and you have to be prepared… and know about books (at least have read something to recomend to people). Anyway.. after the first part of the interview I almost fell backwards when I knew about the Salary. ” …our starting wage is 7.80” I thought: what?? what is wrong with you people?? how can a huge enterprise like chapters/indigo that has stores in all Canada, be competitive with only paying to its employees that wage?? Unfortunately, people work for money because they pay bills and that money is the remuneration for their hard job. Now, it seems that the staff at Chapters in badly treated by managers and customers.. so, how happy and how boosting at your job you could be if you see that you are underpaid and mistreated? Lets look back at the idea of “competitive in the market” while I was applying for a job I applied to almost 10 different places and noticed that at least they were offering 8.00 an hour, and that was to think about it twice. Now.. that Chapters pays in the range of 7 dollars is bad.. specially in a province that is booming. 7.80 is a normal wage in other provinces.. but here?? unbelivable.

I had to put my heart aside and insist in applying in other parts… I like to read, I know that I can recomend books to people but my monthly expenses dont let me work at Chapters. And my question for you is.. if you feel that you are underpaid, underworked and underappreciated.. why dont you apply in other stores, now that you have the unlikely opportunity to swich jobs here in Alberta??? At least it would wake up the big heads of the company and value people that are patient and love to work in a place like this.

Gloria's picture
Gloria on October 25, 2009 - 02:45 Permalink

Best independent bookstore. It is also the oldest in Atlantic Canada with the nicest and most informative staff (and yes. I do work here.. :)


AK's picture
AK on June 17, 2010 - 19:32 Permalink

I worked at H/O for a while and I will tell the store employees this: you guys are a great bunch who work extremely hard. You manage your cycle counts well, provide exceptional customer service and create a great shopping experience. Are there a few out there who will be obnoxious and lie to a customer or the company itself through internal theft? Sure. But does that sampling account for the many other employees who work their ass off? Didn’t think so. It’s like any retailer. Wal Mart employees complain about their h/o, HBC the same. But let’s not slam the H/O staff. Realzing that they’re also working their asses off and they are monitoring and analyzing POS data to come up with solutions and ideas, they may not all be bright or right, but give credit where credit is due. LP is an example of a department where thought and innovation is at the forefront of reducing theft and paper shrink. A/P is another example of making sure that their vendors are paid so that they can continue to supply your store with product on a timely basis. Procurement follows trends, customer trends to come up with great ideas and new product lines. Is it perfect? No. Are your wages ridiculous? Yeah! But nothing is perfect. So I end off with this: to all the disgruntled employees, be happy you’re in a job during a recession and second, if you’re not happy, with your work environment or your pay, write to Heather and trust me, if enough of you do, she’ll listen! Adios!

ChaptersEmployee's picture
ChaptersEmployee on August 11, 2010 - 20:37 Permalink

I have worked at Chapters for the past year and I completely agree with all the previous comments left by the employees of Chapters. I notice that the date of the last post is in 2006, and it is now 2010, but I am sad to say that nothing much has changed. The employees are still underpaid and overworked, and we still have chairs for customers to sit in (at my Chapters), and still mounds of books to clean up. Unfortunately, I also work in the children’s department where the mess is even more horrific and where parents and children alike treat toys and books (that they have NOT paid for) like it belongs to them. I love reading books and before I started working here I thought it would be the perfect job for me, but I agree with a previous post that though the people (not the managers) I work with are great, the hourly wage of $9.33 an hour simply isn’t enough for the work I have to put in. Note that I work in Calgary, Alberta where the average wage is much higher.

Meg's picture
Meg on November 18, 2010 - 04:37 Permalink

As a teenage Canadian, I think that the Chapters here are amazing. They still have coffee and chairs in the Chapter near my house. I love to go there and look at the books, relax and have some Starbucks.

It shouldn’t matter what sort of extra thing is in the store or not, if you want to buy books than Chapters is the perfect store.

You can’t judge the whole Chapters company based on one experience with one person, that’s stupid.

I am thinking about trying to get a job at Chapters, I think that it would be the perfect job for me.

Harry Lime's picture
Harry Lime on June 21, 2011 - 07:30 Permalink

Hey ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure that YOU and everybody that you know can afford to support places like Westminister Books, but mots of us can’t afford to, and so Chapters/Indigo is it. When you wish death upon the company please keep this factoid in mind (i’m lucky in that I live in downtown Toronto and can pick & choose what store I buy from, but not everybody can do so.)

Just a little FYI.