Saturday, November 24, 2007

"People all want a place to go that’s not work and not home"

The never-aired second verse to the Cheers theme song? Or a quote from the world's smartest librarian? Yes! It's the librarian! And why wouldn't Frank Collerius be so smart? His Jefferson Market Library is trying to attract the same people we all are—the elusive 18-54 year old—but you'd think he'd have an advantage. A library's product is free. And still it's a challenge. I think there may be a message in there somewhere about price and perceived value but I can't quite make it out.

What I really can't decide is whether this makes the Jefferson Market Library a late arrival to the Comfy Chair Revolution—"providing inexpensive hangouts may draw business"—or a purer form of it. After all, bookstores are moving the chairs out and bringing in TVs with advertising, somewhat spoiling those quiet utopian dreams of "from each according to his free wifi capability, to each according to his free wifi needs." And if all that hangout space could be more cost-effective as a Rachael Ray book display, maybe the library is a comfy chair's last, best hope.

Or maybe interiors don't matter as much as shared activities and a sense of specialness. Especially if the 18-54 year olds are niche-y. You know, like comic book readers: "any time a comic-inspired movie hits theaters, Keith Colvin buys out one screening so his customers can see it together. Mr. Colvin, who's been in the business since 1989, owns Keith's Comics near Mockingbird Station, plus three suburban stores. Surprisingly, Mr. Colvin said movies starring iconic superheroes don't help his bottom line as much as movies based on lesser-known comic book characters. 'A movie like Spider-Man or Hulk doesn't really move the needle on sales....But something like Sin City or Hellboy does astronomical sales.'" That right there? That makes me wanna hang out with Keith's customers.

No comments: