Back when the universe pitted Borders and Barnes & Noble against each other, Barnes & Noble was considered as the FaNcY bookstore covering the WASP and Old Money demographic who exclusively read The New Yorker and be the first to buy Paul Muldoon’s latest tomb of poems. Since Amazon basically came in and ruined the bookstore game for everyone, and Borders is now extinct, Barnes & Noble has (arguably) lost its exclusive luster. If you’re not ordering your books online, you’re probably going to Barnes & Noble (or an independent book store if it hasn’t gone bankrupt yet), meaning B&N has a way more assorted scene now.
Which is cool, because people-watching is cool. Everyone has their own agenda when visiting a Barnes & Noble. Maybe they’re just looking for free air-conditioning, or a coffee table book, or a birthday present. Maybe they’re thirsty for more vampire novels. Or maybe they’re just wandering around while Starbucks makes them their soy latte. Either way, you’re bound to either become or run into one of these Barnes & Noble dwellers:
A sudden homemaker
You’ve never made anything more complex than spaghetti, but suddenly you are moved. You are inspired by the shiny and aesthetically satisfying cookbook covers that boast “250 Gluten Free Meals!” or “100 Top Secret Comfort Food Recipes From Wolfgang Puck!” You can already see yourself making cauldrons of pumpkin sage soup and purchasing a Crockpot for the infinite amount of hearty stew you’re going to cook up. You purchase three hardcovers that truly speak to your budding culinary vibes and then end up eating a block of cheese from your fridge because ugh, cooking.
Someone who constantly wants to better themselves
Barnes & Noble has a plethora of self-help books because you never be too amazing. It's hard to walk past this section without seeing at least one title that feels like it was written specifically to illuminate the things that are tragically wrong with you, so you are immediately drawn in like most people who are drawn in when they're told a part of their existence is probably defunct. In the self-help section, you can truly become the person you want to be, and all you have to do is buy a twenty dollar book that shows you how. Most involve meditation, a spiritual pathway from yourself to a higher, mystical power, saying sorry to people, and making emotionally-purging lists.
The Destroyer Of All The Pretty Things
You are the bane of every Barnes & Noble employee’s existence. You the one who purchases books, reads them, promptly spills coffee on them, and then returns them. You're also probably the person who asks associates at the help desk to help find a book because searching for books is a drag.
The one who thinks it’s a library
Books are expensive, so you do most of your reading in the bookstore. It’s like a library, except you’re reading a brand new book that doesn’t have the germs of a million people smothered all over it. Plus do libraries have those big, comfy leather chairs? No. No, they do not.
You treat Barnes & Noble as an extension of your office and your soul. You would do your work at a coffee shop, but that is so expected nowadays. Taking up real estate in the back, you set up your MacBook Air, your venti soy iced chai in your reusable BPA-free bottle, and your Dre headphones. If you’re gonna #CrushIt, it might as well be at Barnes & Noble.
A person who is not there for books at all
Half of Barnes & Noble is just book accessories that people have no practical use for. $32 diaries made of that weird leather that’s supposed to look like dragon skin; Vera Bradley tote bags; Elaborate art kits the size of kitchen tables. But there is always one person there who suddenly decides to subtly reinvent themselves with an expensive notebook and globe made of purple marble. Hey, you do you, boo.
A black coffee drinking ~*~poet~*~
You are the person, the gatekeeper. You are the one who sits outside of Barnes & Noble and the adjoining Starbucks smoking a Paul Mall, reading Bukowski, and clutching onto a white Starbucks cup for dear life. You have your just-so-perfectly worn Moleskine out, just in case your muse speaks to you. And also just in case someone walks by and wonders who you are (an artist!!!!) and why you're lounging in front of a Barnes & Noble at one in the afternoon (artists do not believe in the concept of time!!!) You used to identify as goth.
The avid intellectual
You find yourself transforming into a sneering elitist as soon as you walk into shades of green and beige, wondering where the copies of Joan Didion’s Democracy are, or a collection besides Ariel by Sylvia Plath (plebeians, all of you!). You are deeply offended that B&N’s poetry section is smaller than the travel section (and we all know nobody reads travel books anymore when you can just Expedia and Yelp everything). And it’s true: Barnes & Noble doesn’t have it all. But it's okay, because we secretly love it anyway.
Image: Getty Images; Giphy(4)