The Final Chapter

When the Big Box Bookstores like Chapters and Indigo splashed onto the scene several years ago, taking out a good number of smaller independents in the process, one of the attractive things about them was an integrated café. In the case of Chapters, this was almost always a Starbucks (a novelty in Canada at the time) and Indigo had its own in-house café brand. It all seemed so civilized and exotic: drop by the store, order a caffe latte, browse the stacks, find a couple of interesting books or magazines, curl up at a table in the café to preview them, and buy what you found interesting.

In a book retailing world where it was unusual to have chairs in the store, this was revolutionary.

I noticed the first crack in this system when Chapters in Moncton posted handwritten “you must pay for all purchases before entering Starbucks” signs at the Starbucks entrance. This was a year ago. This morning, as I sit in the same Chapters, I’m surrounded by large, formal looking “Please note that unpurchased Chapters merchandise is not permitted in Starbucks.” So, in other words, the deal’s off.

Of course Chapters is free to set their draconian policies as they like. It’s a shame that they had to rip the heart out of the independent bookselling world in the process.


Andrew's picture
Andrew on October 29, 2002 - 17:09 Permalink

Does Indigo here in Charlottetown allow you to preview books in their little cafe`? I have been to Indigo once to check out their computer book section…

art's picture
art on October 30, 2002 - 14:51 Permalink

I wonder what this will do to kids who do their homework at Chapters and Indigo? Some libraries now have coffee shops and maybe this traffic will be redirected, since I think customers are sometimes positively encouraged to take reading material into the consumables area in many public libraries. What the Big Book stores have done to independents is simply gruesome, but the research seems to indicate that the people who go to these are the same people who are heavy library users. I once tried to get an option for the Chapters system to check the local library for an item if it wasn