A few years ago, a friend of mine was the publisher of a fetish-oriented magazine (In Uniform Magazine; not hard-core porn, but still “adult”), and he sometimes used other people whom I knew personally to do illustrations for the magazine. I didn’t buy the magazine regularly (uniforms aren’t my thing), but if it had art from one of the people I knew, I would pick it up.
One shop (A Taste of Leather in San Francisco [no website, apparently]) I went into had the latest issue, which I hadn’t seen yet. They had two racks of magainzes: the new magazines were wrapped in plastic, in a rack behind the counter, and another one was in the back of the store with thumbed-through (to the point of uselessness) jumble of other magazines, presumably used stock which they didn’r curate at all. (It was probably worse in that shop that just about anything outside a stuffed-full comics spinner rack, though, indicating that they considered that other magazine rack a lost cause and didn’t monitor it at all.)
I asked if I could leaf through the latest issue. I was told that I had to buy it first. I explained my interest in only selected issues, and thus that I needed to briefly see the contents before buying. I was told I would have to buy it first; they didn’t want the issues damaged like the ones on the open rack. I promised to buy it if it had the content I was after, and offered to leaf through it quickly right there at the counter in front of the clerk (and the store was otherwise empty, so that wouldn’t have been a drain on his attention). Nope: I could only see the interior if I bought a copy first, and there were no refunds for any reason.
Needless to say, I left the store. I then wrote a letter of complaint to the store management. They sent me a letter back in just a few days, which impressed me until I read the content: “That is our store policy. You’re welcome to shop elsewhere if you don’t like it. We don’t need your business.” (That’s a paraphrase, of course, although the last sentence was explicitly in their response.) (Note that I don’t blame the individual clerk for adhering to the store’s policy.)
They don’t need my business. Let’s hope not: I’ve never shopped there since.
(I don’t necessarily bring up old grudges like this regularly. But a mailing list I am on had a thread today on the subject of shrink-wrapped CD’s and thus the eventual potential of shrink-wrapped books which would have to be bought to be read — or accessed at an in-store “reading station” — and which then could not be returned except in exchange for a copy of the same title.)
Updated on October 12, 2010