Manga fans need kokua at stores
This week's column topic comes courtesy of a longtime friend with whom I recently had lunch. This friend, who works at a bookstore that will remain nameless save for how the chain's name rhymes with "quarters," and I were talking about some of our pet peeves when it comes to the store's manga section and the people who patronize and/or work in it.
So before we get too far into this shopping season, here are some of my biggest gripes about bookstore manga sections. Perhaps if we can correct some of these bad habits, we really can start moving toward the holiday ideal of "peace on Earth, good will to men" ... and maintain that ideal for the rest of the year, too.
The "manga lounge" phenomenon. OK. So. I realize that there are some people who simply must know, for example, what happens to Naruto and his friends every time a new volume comes out ... or, as has been happening for the past few months with that particular series, every time three new volumes come out at once. But must these people plop themselves in the middle of the aisle to read the whole thing?
Free reading's for the library, kids; sampling's OK, but these stores are here to make money.
And speaking of the library mentality ...
Store return policy abuse. It's this pet peeve that inspired this column in the first place; apparently, according to my friend, there are people out there who will buy large chunks of a manga series, read it and then come back a few days later to return the books for a refund.
That's just flat-out abuse of the refund policy. Plus, it'll make stores more suspicious of people who actually have legitimate reasons for returning manga -- for example, those who accidentally buy two copies of the same volume on different trips. Like me.
Mis-shelved books. If you take a book off the shelf and change your mind about it later, put it back exactly where you found it. That should be common courtesy. Also, if the book you put back also happens to be the only copy left in the store, it'll help the next person looking for it find it with minimal fuss.
Those magnetic security strips. Most of these complaints have focused on the customers, but bookstores aren't guilt-free, either. My main issue is with those inch-long rigid strips inserted into books to prevent people from walking out with them.
Now, I have no problem with preventing shoplifting by any means possible. The problem comes when those strips are stuck on top of a key piece of artwork or dialogue. Trying to remove them can be a tricky proposition, too, often resulting in ripped pages.
Some stores are more guilty of doing this than others, so for the guilty ones, I offer this advice: Follow the lead of the stores that place those security strips on the inside cover or on one of the blank pages instead of in the middle. It'll save customers quite a bit of aggravation later ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao