Why Bookstores Are My Office

Another Day Another Bookstore

I work in bookstores and coffee shops most often. Sometimes, I work in airplanes, and other times, I work in my hotel room. I almost never go to my actual office space south of Boston. There are lots of reasons why.

  • Bookstores have books, which are full of ideas. When I work here, I can pluck a book off the shelf, get an idea, and get a new perspective on my project.
  • Bookstores and coffeeshops have fresh food and lots of people anxious to serve me the food. It means I can focus on what I’m doing and not worry about the sustenance part.
  • Bookstores have big parking lots and lots of room to hold brief, cafe-shaped meetings with a few people. They’re not the best place to conduct official business, but they’re perfect for brainstorming and idea gathering and status delivering.
  • Bookstores are usually staffed with pleasant people who don’t do what I do, so they’re willing to chat for a few minutes, but won’t bury me in the details.
  • Bookstores are actually fun. How many people’s offices are fun?

What surprises me more is the answer to this question: how come so many people still go to the office?

People’s biggest answer usually relates to collaboration. It’s harder to get stuff done when everyone’s spread out. The second answer seems often to be “we can’t tell when people are working or not.” That’s the one that bugs me. It just means that management and measurements need tweaking.

So what about you? What does the whole web commuting experience mean to what you’re doing? What is the value of your office (the place, not the people)?

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  • http://freelancewritinggigs.com Deb Ng

    I enjoy working at the library for the same reason. it’s quiet, there’s free wifi and handy reference materials are all over. The coffee shop is missing but that’s why Starbucks is on the way. Because I work at home along all day, I often work at the library just to be around people.

    I think in this economy more employers should consider allowing employees to work remotely, not only to save expenses, but because of higher productivity and morale.

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  • http://awebslife.tumblr.com/ Kyle Webs

    Bookstores are a pretty good choice because there aren't people getting up all the time and walking around, so it's less distracting than, say, a Starbucks.

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  • Lee

    Interesting article. More interesting is that I don't see co-working at people's homes or anything about the Jelly movement (workatjelly.com). I thought those ideas were great but I've never participated in them either. I love Panera and Atlanta Bread Company but find that if I go to one too close to my house that I end up working for a short time and then going back home, so I usually travel a distance to get to one so that I'm not tempted to go home and do laundry while I work. I often use my Bose noise cancelling headphones to drown out the din at these places and sometimes listen to instrumental music to keep motivated. Lately I've been listening to the PodRunner Workout Podcast to get my heart rate up so that I can increase my writing speed and find that 136-145 bpm is about right for me. Anything around 172 bpm or more and I'm afraid I'll set my keyboard on fire by typing too fast. Also, I've recently found that using DarkRoom for the PC (freeware) allows me to CRANK on writing because I can focus on the content, not the formatting. I frustrate the heck out of my co-workers by not keeping my e-mail client live 24/7, but forget them…I'm judged on my output, not whether I answer e-mail in sub 3 milliseconds. I check email about three times a day, once in the morning (when I'm the most creative) and two or three times in the afternoon (when I'm coming down from my sugar high). I try to support local shops rather than chains but the chains usually have better wi-fi. I find it beneficial to work in a location where there isn't wi-fi too, so that I'm forced to focus on what I have to do rather than get on the web and pay bills, make travel arrangements, etc.

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  • Paul

    I agree. It is important to support places like B&N and Borders. Even if there prices aren't as good as Amazon, whenever I'm there I support them by buying magazines, coffees or books.

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  • http://twitter.com/Turnstone_bySCS Turnstone Furniture

    I totally agree that our favorite places to work are generally outside the office. Yet, we still need the office collaboration and time with co-workers. As a furniture manufacturer our solution has been to re-invent office furniture around the way we like to work outside of the office. We've had some good results and we're really trying to create a movement around this idea.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Young/100000292682379 David Young

    The best 2 places to work and meet clients outside your home office is the coffee shop and library.

  • Wesleymales

    I am looking for the Nostradamus Bible. 

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