Barnes & Noble Lacks Any Human Social Element; Passes the Savings On To You!

Needing a new hard spiral-bound blank notebook so I can work on the next issue of BFD’s newest comic, DYNO SOARERS: dark legacy (coming soon) on my flight back to Michigan this week, I ducked into Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue and 46th Street in the vile land of retail despair the government has so innocuously named “Midtown”. Much to my delight, I found the perfect notebook on sale for $6.98.

Exhibit A.

I fought my way through the gauntlet of savings, bowling over sobbing children and hapless European tourists. Weaving through tables of shoppers being mentally anesthetized by Nook display models, I beelined for the closest available cashier.

“Sir,” she scolded, “the line starts back there, sir.”

Turning my head, I saw that the “line” began at the far end of the checkout counter. “But there’s no one in line,” I protested.

“Sir, I can’t help you unless you’re in the checkout line,” she smiled lifelessly like some failed robot prototype from the 1939 World’s Fair.

“Hm.” I walked to the far end of the row of registers, looped back around through the empty checkout line, and reached the sign that read Please Wait Here For Next Available Cashier.

“I can help the next customer,” the same cashier called out to me. (I’m not kidding.)

I approached the counter and handed the notebook to her. What followed was a line of questioning that I imagine the sales team refers to as the “deposition phase” of the checkout process.

“Are you a Barnes & Noble member?” the cashier asked me as I handed her my debit card.


“Would you like to sign up for a Barnes & Noble membership today?”

“No, thank you.”

“Would you like to sign up for a Barnes & Noble Mastercard today, good at any Barnes & Noble, Scribner’s, or Doubleday Booksellers location?”

Now, I usually try to be tolerant of these sales spiels, because I know these poor retail employees are prohibited from deviating from their script or having any real or gratifying interactions with customers. But come on – I’m not making a $200 purchase. Who the hell applies for a credit card to cover a $7 purchase? “No, it’s just a notebook. Go ahead and charge it to my card, please.”

“Would you like to donate $3.99 to buy a book for a child in need this holiday?”


“Would you like a gift receipt?”

At this point I almost answered Yes, but I wanted to see if I could break some Personal Best for the number of “No” responses I provided in a retail checkout scenario.

“Debit or credit?”

“You didn’t swipe it yet? I dunno. Doesn’t matter. Debit. I don’t need a bag.”

She swiped the card, selecting credit. She stuffed my notebook into a plastic bag and handed me my receipts.

“If you fill out this survey you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $300 Barnes & Noble gift card, good at any Barnes & Noble, Scribner’s, or Doubleday Booksellers location!”

I yanked the notebook from the bag and handed it to her. “No bag.

“Thank you for shopping at Barnes & Noble, have a great day!”

On my survey receipt, the “YOU MAY ALSO LIKE” section emblazoned at the bottom suggests the following items:

  • Black Sketchbook Top Spiral – Medium
  • Anime Flowers Sketchbook – Large
  • Blue Butterfly Journal – Medium
  • Blue Bufferfly Journal – Large

Evidently they’ve crunched the numbers to determine that my demographic doesn’t generally spring for the Anime Flowers Sketchbook – Medium.

I am pretty glad that they drew my attention to the Blue Butterfly Journal – Large, but I think I’ll skip the line and buy it on Amazon.

So there you have it, folks. Barnes & Noble is being run by legions of deficient automatons, and soon we’ll all be reading Dean Koontz paperbacks and Stargate: Atlantis novelizations. The end is near.

Enter for a chance to win! Go ahead, be somebody!