Two magazines and an art book in my bag, I settled in with Lylah at the Barnes & Noble cafe to quaff coffee and draw. Such a pleasure to be with the baby of the family (OK, she's 18 now), and with the best leather sketchbook on the planet. Perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much.
But, still: distress. To my right was a couple who sat for at least an hour, he with a Clive Cussler novel from the stacks, she with a book titled simply "Vinegar." It was a small hardcover from the remainders table. They read and they read and they read. I hoped I'd see them eventually rise and get in line to pay, and I think he indeed might've bought the Cussler, while "Vinegar" was left behind, almost entirely read, from what I could see, along with a bride magazine. (Sidebar: She was 65 if she was a day, but perhaps there was a daughter or granddaughter looking forward to nuptials.)Worse yet: behind Lylah sat the woman you see above, taking cookbooks and cooking magazines from the stacks and copying recipes into her notebook.This practice of devouring the contents of books and magazines at the Barnes & Noble Cafe, then declining to buy, is so rampant that it's almost not worth noting. Perhaps the corporate execs have done the math and found the economics to be somehow defendable.Here's what I know. The bookstore clerk I vented to about this noted that B&N sells 40 percent fewer magazine titles today than 10 years ago. Magazines are dying. (Though we like them, don't we? I do.) Bookstores are dying. Employment for writers is nosediving.
Yet somehow we think that because it's legal to "borrow" content from a store this way, it's also defendable to do so.Do you like art and music and literature? I say support it. Pay for it as if someone you cared about was trying to making a living off of it. Someone probably is.