Borders is Just Loving This
So, now Barnes & Noble feels just awful about chucking all them books behind the Preston Royal Shopping Center location. "They were clearly wrong," Barnes & Noble regional director, Stephanie Horblit, told KTVT-Channel 11's Jay Gormley. "I am here to apologize and to assure the community it will not happen again in Dallas... This store clearly was in error, and I would like to apologize to the community." Community, do you accept her apology?
Regardless, that ain't stopping our old pal Bucks Burnett -- the former proprietor of 14 Records on Greenville Avenue and rock star -- from calling for a protest of the chain, and not only for the dumping of the 800 books. In a letter he shot off to B&N corporate early this morning, Bucks says that when he went to the B&N across from NorthPark Center to find a new book released on the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, he was greeted by a clerk asked him, "What kind of writing is that?" Writes Bucks to B&N, "I will say that at that moment, my life changed forever." If you want his entire letter to B&N, with the accompanying essay, it's after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky
From: Bucks Burnett
Date: August 24, 2007 2:25:17 AM CDT
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Fwd: HIGHWAY TO HELVETICA - JACKIE K.
Dear Barnes And Nobles,
Things are not going well here in Dallas. On the same day that I received horrendous customer service at one of your locations (see essay below, which I am distributing online and publishing on my Web sites), I saw on TV that another B&N store had thrown away 800 usable books instead of donating (or recycling) them. Has no one in your company read the book you've sold so many copies of, An Inconvenient Truth? By throwing away books instead of donating or at least recycling them, your company is clearly not interested in the state of the environment, or the waste of trees which provide the very products you sell (books).
I am now completely appalled by your company and its attitude. It took two staff members 15 minutes to find a heavily promoted title, and they were unfamiliar with the major literary figure who wrote it. The store manager was rude and defensive. Not only will I never shop in one of your stores again, but I am officially beginning a publicity campaign to urge others to do the same. I am an experienced publicist and community activist, and will not let these actions on the part of Barnes & Nobles go unprotested.
There is a small amount of profanity at the end of my essay, but I am angry. I hope you will read it for the sake of being clearly informed about the terrible state of affairs going on at the Dallas Barnes & Nobles outlets. I am also posting the local news broadcast regarding the book dumping on YouTube.
I respectfully await your response.
Bucks Burnett email@example.com
HIGHWAY TO HELVETICA JACKIE K.
By Bucks Burnett
August 23, 2007
Went to a Barnes and Not Very Noble book store by Northpark Mall in Dallas yesterday to buy my good friend Paul a book for his birthday. A young guy came up and asked if he could help and I said, 'I'd like to look at all those books that just came out about On The Road by Jack Kerouac. He said, 'What kind of writing is it?'
(I will say that at that moment, my life changed forever).
So I helped him try to find the section for about 5 minutes and then went to the customer service bar. The young man there HAD heard of Jack, and spent a few minutes on the computer not getting anywhere because he kept typing in things like "karryack" and "achin' back" -- finally told the other kid that it was upstairs so we went up there and spent 10 minutes looking at aisles and end caps and I said, "Can you call somebody?" He did, and we were told it was downstairs.
So back downstairs this kid spends another 10 minutes, or 600 seconds, looking for the section. I had asked for the special Scroll edition. You know the one. It's starting to feel hopeless and my happy place felt shut down for the day, so I asked to see a manager. She arrived and I asked, "Did you know your employees don't know who Jack Keryoowack is?" She looked unhappy and said, "Sir, we can't expect all of our employees to have read every book ever printed." Hmmm. I then said, "That particular attitude aside, I've been here 15 minutes and they haven't found his section yet. Is that a good thing?" She said something frumpy, and the kid walked up with the book, and I thanked him. She said, "Anything else?"
I looked at her and said, "This is a pretty big week in the book business, as you may know, they've put out several books surrounding the 50th anniversary of On The Road, and this is a big store that sells those kind of things. It's taken 15 minutes for your staff to locate a huge new release. I'm not a literary snob, but I will say this has been unfortunate in every way. I'm in a hurry and will buy this book, even though I don't want to anymore. Good luck to you and the chain."
"Thank you, sir."
At the counter, the cashier said, "Was everything OK today, sir?" I looked at him and said, "Not really." He asked, "Why not?" I said, "Because no one here seems to know who Jack Kerouac was." He said, "I do -- what happened? Let me get a manager for you to talk to." (Ten points for him). The same lady walked up to me. By the looks we exchanged, there should've been a theme song playing.
'Yes, sir, is there still a problem?"
"May I speak with the store manager?"
"I am the store manger."
"Oh, dear, how do I put this? Your cashier should be the store manager. He knows how to talk to people and has heard of Jack Knapsackonmyback. Earlier when we spoke I found you rude and defensive, and I won't ask if you require your employees to have read any Shakespeare, which I, by the way, have not, but I work at a music store. So I've bought this book, but I don't feel good about it."
(Curtly) "I'm sorry you feel that way, sir."
"Yeah, me too. I used to shop at Borders, because it's closer to my house, but now I have a better reason. I don't want to see you again."
(Bored) "I'm sorry you feel that way, sir."
"Yeah, me too."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.