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I find it fascinating that so far we're talking about bookstores. Are bookstores the new libraries? It would seem that way.

Carolyn Ann -- I agree with you on the Borders store in downtown Philadelphia. It has such a prominent spot on Broad Street and yet is is so unfriendly in its layout. That's were design of space means design of experience. What do you want people to do? User experience off line, if you will. I use the Nordstrom in King of Prussia for my shoe purchases ;-)

Karen -- I like how you follow consideration of online space with physical space and draw parallels in your closing. So much can be communicated with a wise use of design. It is easier to be nice when you don't feel crowded by close hallways and spaces, for example.

Valeria

Interesting conversations with Mario. I too am a believer as to the implications of social science on the world of commerce. The implications go far beyond brick and mortar businesses and touch the online world as well. A well-designed website that addresses our needs will provide a good experience and will entice viewers to come back and take a second look.

In Canada, my favourite store would have to be the Chapters/Indigo chain of bookstores. The stores are well laid out, and any deals are promoted as you walk in the door. Staff is courteous and friendly, and if you can't find the book you need, they will help you find alternatives.

After browsing the books, it's nice to be able to go to the Starbucks kiosk to sip some fresh-brewed java. The chain also offers a rewards program with discounts on books bought both online as well as through the stores.

The experience is always a good one, and I even drop by just to "chill" a little to take a break from a hectic day.

Layout and design, courteous service, quality product and an environment designed for tranquility all combine to create a positive experience for the customer.

My favorite store is the Borders in Wilmington, Delaware. Lots of choice, good coffee served near the magazines and the bathrooms! (Barnes & Noble put the bathrooms elsewhere, usually forcing you walk through the store. An usually trivial point, but it can be important!)

My least favorite is also a Borders: the one in central Philadelphia. It's got a great selection, but you have to go up 3 floors to get to it, music is the first thing you see (it's a bookstore!), and the books aren't arranged very well; it's not laid out as logically as it could be. Plus, the aisles are a little crowded. And the cafe: what a disaster! Instead of it being in a reasonable place, you have to go down a floor - not so bad, except I've yet to locate where the baskets are, so I have an armful of books all the time - and the bathrooms are back up a floor. I don't know where the magazines are.

I do buy a lot of books, and the layout of the store has to be conducive to that. Barnes & Noble on Union Sq in Manhattan has some of the same issues as the Borders in Phillie, but it's nowhere nearly as awkward to "use".

Nordstrom's are good! Even I've bought shoes there. :-)
Carolyn Ann

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