Does Size Matter?

FTLComm - Winnipeg
July 5, 1999

We have all by now been to super sized food and building materials stores but it is now the North American phenomena to build really huge books stores. The whole concept is dealt with in the romantic comedy movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan

"You've Got Mail". The movie though looking at various aspects of the issue did not prepare me for an encounter with the real thing. This Chapters outlet is located in Winnipeg near the Polo Park mall and within shouting distance of the football field. The idea of a really big book store is interesting and it is unlikely if we can with our limited perspective, determine what this concept does to reading and people buying books. One of the visitors to this store referred to it as a commercial library, for indeed the design and atmosphere is to give the customer that sort of experience.
I was not off the carpet that serves to dust off one's shoes at the front door before one of the eight or so customer service representatives asked me if he could help me find something. His name was "Dave" and he seem pleasant and had a grasp of the stock in the store. When I asked him about taking pictures inside the brought me "Jennifer" who said I could then when I explained the images would appear on a web page she brought me the young supervising manager of the time who said "no" and that I could talk to the general manager about it who would be in on Tuesday. My intention was to give you a QuickTime VR of the place so that you can share in the odd experience of a book store with escalators.
Almost everywhere one looks in the store are banners of the URL for the stories online web site sales site. The company has set up on the second floor (on the left hand side of this picture) a section with computers where customers can browse the Internet. The cost of this service is $15 for a membership and I am not sure what other usage fees are involved.

The store's web site has the ability to search for books in a database and purchase them on line.

As I looked around I was a little overwhelmed with the bank teller lay out for the check out stands and consider the remarkable massive periodical selection as one of the impressive parts of the store. The most interesting section was the music section seen in the upper right of the image below right which has listening stations around the huge selection of CDs for customers to listen to the material.

Fiction and nonfiction sections were excellent but I was disappointed at the computer section and the bargain section. The computer material was fairly extensive but did not have the organisation and detail that I have seen in other book stores. The bargain section had similar displays to what one might see at Coles but the prices were perhaps as much as 20% to 50% more.

These pictures taken, against the wishes of the management, show the atmosphere and as you can see, the numbers of customers on a Sunday afternoon. The place is upscale and gentile, but in the coffee shop the single most impressive thing in the store struck me, $5.50 for a piece of cake.