For me, the decision as to whether or not I’ll drop into a book store ( or any other shop, for that matter), always comes down to one thing: Its smell. I don’t care if your walls need a new coat of paint, or it looks as though you should’ve replaced your carpet twenty years ago — but if your business stinks, I’ll simply leave.
Now, there are bad smells and there are bad smells. If the person running the show is paying dearly for the bean burrito he or she just had for lunch, that’s one thing; if the entire place is haunted by the spirit of your Great Aunt Beatrice’s over-flowing ashtray, that’s quite another.
I have encountered at least one store where it seems the owner is happily defying anti-smoking laws. Stale smoke clings to the air, plaster and books; it gags those of us who don’t burn through 5 packs a day. Perhaps he or she believes that as long as they light up in the privacy of their back-of-store office, no one will notice. Or, perhaps, they don’t give a flying dutchman. Whatever the mentality/logic behind his or her behaviour, they have lost a potential return customer because of it.
So, if you find people don’t linger as long as they used to — or no longer come at all — there’s a chance that something is rotten in the book shop.