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Tech-Unfriendly Cafes Say No Kindles Allowed

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the and-no-coffee-either dept.

Books 375

theodp writes "At the risk of pulling-a-Groupon, I have a dream that one day my children will not be judged by their e-readers, but by the content of their character. The NY Times' Virginia Heffernan complains that many indie New York City cafes now heavily restrict, or ban outright, the use of Kindles, Nooks and iPads. Evidently, she says, too many coffee shops have had their ambience wrecked when itinerant word processors with laptops turn the tables into office space. Full-dress computers are one thing, says Heffernan, but banning devices the size of books is going too far, and it's anathema to the character and history of cafes. By contrast, Starbucks offers free, one-click, unlimited wireless service to their patrons, making it in Heffernan's eyes 'a flawed franchise that is squarely in the public good.'"

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It's a free country (4, Informative)

Relyx (52619) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186724)

Those cafes are quite free to ban eReaders, iPads and the like. Whether it will actually be enforced is another question entirely. Even if the management comes down hard, there is nothing stopping their customers going elsewhere.

No one's saying it isn't (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186740)

That's not the point.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (2, Insightful)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186812)

Yeah, it is.
- In a free country the Citizen owning the shop can ban any damn thing he wants to ban, just as I can invite your into my home, but ban you from wearing shoes.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186898)

Are they free to ban niggers?

Re:No one's saying it isn't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186952)

Hey guys! I said NIGGER, am I funny yet!?!

Re:No one's saying it isn't (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186984)

Not to start a flame war, but -

Maybe they should be. I mean, if we are TRULY free, than we should be free to discriminate if we wish. There's usually backlash, but still ...

Re:No one's saying it isn't (4, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186980)

It's a cop-out and intellectual laziness to just say the cafe/shop owners can do whatever they want--we already know that. The discussion of weighing the benefits versus the disadvantages is nonetheless an interesting one. And, perhaps such discussions will give cafe owners food for thought in making their business decisions.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187124)

Alright, I won't cop out. Cafe owners are in business for the same reason most other people are in business: to make a living, or money. Having been a truck driver for years, I spent MANY an hour in truck stop diners, reading the news, reading a book, or just killing time in some other manner. Uncountable hours. But - I wouldn't DREAM of sitting in the diner during their lunch rush hour, taking up space, while I read another chapter or six of Asimov's Foundation. As friendly and chummy as most truck stop waitresses, managers, and owners are toward truck driver's needs - THEY NEED THAT SPACE at rush hour! The average cafe desperately needs all the space available during meal times. And, between meals, many cafes are frantically busy with cleaning up, and preparing for the next onslaught. That is to say, unless the owner makes a policy of welcoming the idle into his establishment, his business space is BUSINESS space. Of course, I know how valuable it is to court those idle people with time to kill, reading a book. Make them welcome today, let them slurp coffee as long as they want, and they'll come back when they are hungry. Some places, anyway. All the same - if you want them to welcome your little distractions, you should take the time to educate them about how your distraction might benefit them in some way. I mean - do you stop at that cafe 3 or more times a week? Are the waitresses familiar with you? Have you ever TALKED to the manager? No, no, and no? Well - this seems to to indicate that you have little, if any value to the store owner. Hey, I'll bet that if you eat at the same restaurant every week, at least twice, the manager WILL remember you before long. Then, ban or no ban, if you pull your reader out for thirty minutes during non-rush hours, he ain't gonna say a WORD to you about it. In short - stop expecting a free ride. You gotta give a little to get a little in this world.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (-1, Troll)

Jezza (39441) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186986)

What about disabled people with their large clumsy wheelchairs? Or non-white people? Or Women? What about Muslims? What they have one down the street?

I know the Nazis burned the books, so modern fascists burn Kindles?

Still feel like a free country?

Re:No one's saying it isn't (4, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187036)

What about disabled people with their large clumsy wheelchairs? Or non-white people? Or Women? What about Muslims? What they have one down the street?

I know the Nazis burned the books, so modern fascists burn Kindles?

Still feel like a free country?

That's a stupid argument. For one, disabled people in wheelchars, non-blacks, woment, Muslims, etc, have rights that are enforced under law. Nobody has the right to read a kindle or use a laptop or cell phone wherever they want to.

Second, the coffee shop, being privately owned is perfectly within its right to say if you don't wear shoes or shirt we will not serve you. If you smoke, we will not serve you and yes, if you use a kindle, we will not serve you.

The said coffee shops in the articles are doing this for very good business reasons. They have found that when people camp out at a table or booth for hours working on their laptop or reading a kindle, they don't get much revenue. They way the potential for lost revenue by kindle customers getting upset and going elsewhere with the actual loss they were experiencing.

If you don't like it, you are free to frequent other coffee shops or even start your own that caters to kindle users. That's what it means to live in a free country.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (2)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187136)

They have found that when people camp out at a table or booth for hours working on their laptop or reading a kindle, they don't get much revenue.

Exactly. This is why many coffee shops that start out with friendly living room furnishings - like low comfy sofas - end up with tall hard stools at a counter. I go to a lot of coffee shops where students sit for hours with their one drink. I think its rude, frankly - it's a business, not your house.

However, I often use a laptop in these places, and I don't think its unreasonable so long as I only stay for the time it takes to eat my food and drink. Of course, with more people imagining they are 'digital nomads' or some such nonsense, there will be some who sit there all day.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (2, Informative)

cyn1c77 (928549) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187178)

The said coffee shops in the articles are doing this for very good business reasons. They have found that when people camp out at a table or booth for hours working on their laptop or reading a kindle, they don't get much revenue. They way the potential for lost revenue by kindle customers getting upset and going elsewhere with the actual loss they were experiencing.

If you don't like it, you are free to frequent other coffee shops or even start your own that caters to kindle users. That's what it means to live in a free country.

I support this as a customer too. It is annoying as hell when you buy a coffee and there are no seats... purely because 15 people have setup their mobile offices on all of the tables.

If you want to work (or read for an hour), go to your office or the library. There will be less distractions and you will work faster.

Re:No one's saying it isn't (0)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187040)

Still feel like a free country?

Yes!

Re:No one's saying it isn't (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187096)

What about banning people that can afford your offerings, but they can't afford designer clothes?
How about banning people that aren't wearing your gang colors?
People with digital wristwatches?
People who smoke? (Actually that one actually affects other people, so it's not really in the same category.)

Of course, they aren't refusing service, they are telling customers what they can and can't do (outside of legal restrictions) in the cafe. Unfortunately what they are banning is one of the 3 things cafes are known for, a light culinary experience, casual conversation, and reading. Or perhaps you can say they are trying to control how you do that exact activity, even though it has no effect on anyone else. Next thing you know, they'll be demanding you wear proper 18th century English or Parisian attire while in their establishment to ensure the correct atmosphere.

Do you think that is acceptable? Will that kind of attitude cause you to reduce/avoid or increase your patronage of those cafes? If so, why? If not, again, why?

Re:It's a free country (5, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186742)

You've hit the nail on the head. If Cafe X bans the tablets then they'll see their customers walk down the street to Cafe Y, which welcomes them. There's nothing that says you have to do business with the cafe that bans the devices.

Re:It's a free country (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186884)

Absolutely.

I think this has more to do with economics than ambiance. People with multifunction devices are more likely to plant themselves to a seat than a customer with a paperback. I'm sure there are people with traditional books that spend all day at a cafe, but they are outnumbered by the people with the electronic devices. More new customers equate to more revenue.

I also think that as soon as more customers go to a competitor in sufficient numbers that generates empty seats, the cafe owner would reconsider their stance against customers with e-readers.

Re:It's a free country (1)

jonsmirl (114798) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187112)

I've walked out of Starbucks dozens of times since there are no seats to enjoy my coffee. I don't want to use my electronics, I'm trying to drink a cup of coffee. A couple of Starbucks near me are always occupied with long-term seat sitters and I won't visit them any more. I've come back two hours later and the same people are still in the seats.

Re:It's a free country (2)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186932)

Or cafe X will see an uptick in business as their tables turn quicker. Either way, it's the free market economy at its best.

(Side note: this only works because in a place like NYC, there is a lot of competition. If you lived in a small town with only one coffeeshop, then this would be a completely different deal. (I'm looking at you Time Warner Cable.))

Re:It's a free country (5, Interesting)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187106)

Or cafe X will see an uptick in business as their tables turn quicker. Either way, it's the free market economy at its best.

(Side note: this only works because in a place like NYC, there is a lot of competition. If you lived in a small town with only one coffeeshop, then this would be a completely different deal. (I'm looking at you Time Warner Cable.))

But even in a small town, the store owner would be in their right to not allow kindles and other devices. A small town, probably has a smaller coffee shop, which probably has fewer seats that need to be turned over just as quickly as in NYC to be profitable. I've lived in a town of 30,000 that had a Panera's coffee shop. It was next to impossible to eat their during normal lunch hours because of their free wifi and all of the college kids sitting around on their laptops with a cup of coffee for hours on end. $2 for a cup of coffee for 3 or 4 hours of internet wasn't a bad deal for the kids, but it sure impacted business for the store.

Their solution? During the lunch hours 11:00 - 1:30, you could only use laptops in one relatively small section of the place. They even had free internet terminals at some of the tables if you wanted. It turns out that the same amount of people were using the internet, but instead of one per table or booth, they all shared the tables and booths in that area. In that way, the store could still serve it's paying customers.

The whole point of the above story is that it impacts even small towns.

Re:It's a free country (1)

OnlyJedi (709288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187212)

The other point is that there is a happy medium between a shop being overrun by customers buying one coffee and staying for 3-4 hours, and the same shop banning all electronic devices, books, newspapers, and anything else that might keep customers in the store for longer. Your local Panera's seems to have found one such happy medium.

Re:It's a free country (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187164)

I'm quite familiar with small towns and the sole restaurants that serve them. Some serve better food than others - some have better service than others - and some actually reserve a table or group of tables for the general riff-raff. (Old men playing checkers, loggers off work due to weather, whatever, the riff-raff) There are some restaurants that will WELCOME a guy coming in, sitting in the community area, ordering a cup of coffee, then checking his email, maybe browsing a bit, checking in at the office - as long as it's not overdone. They may not welcome the guy 6 days a week, if he holds that spot down right through meal times, and only spends 6 dollars all week long. Other places, they'll tell you REAL QUICK that this isn't the library or a school, and you better order or leave. Such places, I don't return to, even if I'm hungry, LOL

I hope they do walk down the street (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187162)

Coffee shops used to be about going to meet people, sitting down with a good cup of coffee or tea. Now, if my local Starbucks is any example, its a computer room. You can't get a table in my local Starbucks a few hours after they open because they are all hogged by laptop wielding customers. It really ruins the idea behind what these places used to (granted Starbucks ain't all that great for many people). Instead of hearing people talking, that background sound which shows life of the establishment, all you here is the click clack of keyboards.

Its not what these places were supposed to be about and those that forget it are quickly forgotten. Let someone else have the boring tech crowd - it is silly how they just congregate to not talk.

Re:It's a free country (2)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186762)

So, I can read a book, but not a Kindle?

Kindle goes in book jacket cover, problem solved.

Re:It's a free country (4, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186832)

Yes, you can read a book, but at MY cafe, only books that have been handwritten on velum are allowed... I don't allow any of them high-falootin' printing press -produced monstrosities. I demand my customers use the written word as God meant it to be used... produced by monks.
 

Re:It's a free country (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187174)

Vellum? You're a progressive, right? What is wrong with good old papyrus?

Re:It's a free country (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187362)

Papyrus? If I used that for writing, what would I use for toilet paper???

Re:It's a free country (1)

nomoreunusednickname (1471615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186852)

I would like to see them try to enforce that. Say, i walk in, buy a coffee, sit down... take out my kindle. Then what are they gonna do? Kick me out, while the guy next to me has 3 square meters of newspaper spread out?

Re:It's a free country (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186938)

Their practical ability to do so is, naturally, bounded by customer sentiment and their continued desire to have customers; but there is absolutely nothing requiring them to satisfy anybody's notions of logical consistency in expelling people. They ask you to leave. You leave or are trespassing.

If their customer base is alienated by that, the establishment may encounter solvency issues. If they approve, they've got a selling point.

Re:It's a free country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187028)

Say, i walk in, buy a coffee, sit down... take out my kindle.

They ask you to leave. You leave or are trespassing.

Do they have to pay back my coffee when they ask me to leave?

Re:It's a free country (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187126)

I don't know if that has been settled. I assume that the management would just sidestep any potential legal complications by having the most grating asshole currently on shift dump it into a paper cup for you. All the alienation, if not more, and very cheap in bulk.

Re:It's a free country (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187114)

They will ask you to leave, and if it escalates, I imagine they call the manager, who may in turn call whatever kind of security they have / the police if you continue to resist. Its not complicated, and probably not much different than if you made a scene.

This is much like if a restaurant wants to enforce a dress code; they are perfectly free to kick you out if you do not conform to it. I dont get why this is a story.

Re:It's a free country (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187378)

yeah, when I was younger... I misunderstood that "no shoes, no shirts, no service" police
one day I sat down with no pants on... what the hell, they called the cops on me.
I boycott their milkshake

Re:It's a free country (2)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186868)

Who really cares though? I go to cafes to eat and drink, not play with my Nook or check my e-mail.

Re:It's a free country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187090)

Yes! thank you, you hit it right on the head!

I know this is difficult... (1, Redundant)

flogger (524072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186726)

I know this is difficult, but if you don't like it, don't patronize the place there.

Re:I know this is difficult... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186826)

I know this is even more difficult, but just because you are free to patronize a different establishment doesn't mean you can't complaint about the former establishment.

Starbucks advert? (3, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186752)

To summarise the article: indie cafes bad, but on the First of Some Month Starbucks will give you free internet for as long as you want. Not "a major chain of coffee houses" but STARBUCKS.

How much was this person being paid to plug a company's offerings?

Re:Starbucks advert? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186834)

I would also like to point out that the article offers no real examples or evidence of these bans. As a Manhattan resident who frequents a number of coffee shops, I see Kindles, iPads and laptops in all of them. There might be a few avant garde, anti tech coffee shops here and there, but they are by far the exception. Meanwhile the article makes every attempt to imply it's standard practice, which is complete and utter bullshit.

Re:Starbucks advert? (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186900)

>avant garde
>anti tech
what is this i dont even

-uso.

Re:Starbucks advert? (2)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186876)

To summarise the article: indie cafes bad, but on the First of Some Month Starbucks will give you free internet for as long as you want. Not "a major chain of coffee houses" but STARBUCKS.

How much was this person being paid to plug a company's offerings?

I feel the opposite way. When an article obfuscatorily refers to "a major player in the [whatever] industry" I think it sounds weirder than when they just say which particular business they mean.

Re:Starbucks advert? (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186880)

To summarise the article: indie cafes bad, but on the First of Some Month Starbucks will give you free internet for as long as you want. Not "a major chain of coffee houses" but STARBUCKS.

How much was this person being paid to plug a company's offerings?

Let's just stop putting the name of ANY corporation in Slashdot comments. We can talk about a fruit distributor's smartphone offering and how it is now available on a CDMA network. Hell, we might as well go all the way and stop using names altogether... like how a large North American country's national law enforcement bureau is requesting telephone records of its citizens, and how the aforementioned country has proposed budgetary cuts to their space program, weather programs, nuclear energy research, and their disease monitoring agency.

stfu

Re:Starbucks advert? (0)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186950)

This is why people drink corporate coffee and imbibe corporate jam. Corporate products are all about the masses, what they want, with as little controversy and variation as possible. This can be very good as it allows people to focus on other things

Indie Jam, OTOH, is often about creating a tension. This is good as it differentiates the bussiness from corporate, as well as provide places for people o go who don't want corporate.

What irritates me is when an indie place complains that hey are being overrun by corporate overlords when differentiation becomes dogma and hey no longer serve a profitable purpose. We have enough churches leeching off he public good will, we don't need coffe shops. What is also irritating is corporate shops pretending to be indie shops. Powell's comes to mind, as does Whole Foods, though they are becoming more honest.

Re:Starbucks advert? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186982)

Still too easy to guess. To really hide all the players involved I think you should summarise as

"Some businesses are bad, but sometimes, another business will give you something."

I, for one... (1, Troll)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186754)

...am far more likely to go somewhere which bans all this junk. It's like passive smoking, except being surrounded by pretentious jack-offs with unnecessary toys is painful to my mental health.

Re:I, for one... (3, Interesting)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186822)

I agree to an extent - I don't think the dedicated e-readers should be a concern as they are equivalent to bringing a book to read - no typing, sound or other flashiness. Of course, real or electronic, book reading takes up space and if you aren't buying multiple cups of coffee you're a loss.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187104)

Of course, real or electronic, book reading takes up space and if you aren't buying multiple cups of coffee you're a loss.

At $5 per coffee serving it can't be that big of a loss.

Re:I, for one... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186870)

Good, stay the fuck away from the rest of us you pseudo chic pretentious motherfucker.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Rossman (593924) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186894)

Amen to that!

Re:I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186896)

...am far more likely to go somewhere which bans all this junk. It's like passive smoking, except being surrounded by pretentious jack-offs with unnecessary toys is painful to my mental health.

Yea, having access to my whole library anywhere is STUPID. Being able to buy a book and have it instantly is STUPID. Spending money on things that make your life easier is STUPID. ...lol. Judging people for an item is just as stupid as judging yourself because you HAVE an item. Stupid.

Re:I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186904)

That's one of the times I wish a post gets modded to +5 Flamebait so that the sheer ridiculousness of it is up there for everyone to see, so I can point at it and say what constitutes an awful way of thinking.

Smoking? I understand - It's unpleasant and it stinks. People talking on the phone? I understand - it's annoying.

But someone reading a book or an article, or doing something unknown on his gadget, without affecting you in any possible way? You'll agree for something to be banned just because you don't like it? This is the kind of thinking that can only lead to more ridiculous bans that hurt us all. Didn't we have enough already? You know, while one slashdotter thinks it's cool to ban a popular fad that annoys him, the society might decide to ban his hobbies. I guess there won't be enough people to care if someone banned tinkering. What would you say?

From a disturbance perspective, there's more reason to ban talking than to ban gadgets.

Re:I, for one... (3, Funny)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186946)

Smoking? I understand - It's unpleasant and it stinks. People talking on the phone? I understand - it's annoying.

So you only agree with someone else's private establishment banning what you find annoying.

Re:I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187008)

There are people with asthma, people with smoke allergies, and cancer patients who are negatively affected in a physical, quantifiable way by the presence of smokers.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187238)

"negatively affected in a physical, quantifiable way" Alright, quantify and qualify for me. I'm dense. I know asthmatics who smoke. I know people who are allergic to everything from their mother's milk to eggs and peanuts and beef and seafood - who smoke. You're talking out your ass, because you've been brainwashed by the media.

Re:I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187226)

Nice straw man. Where did I say that I agree? I don't, I merely *understand*. I can tolerate both just fine, and I'm against smoke bans, even though I'm not a smoker. But smoking creates an actual inconvenience for everyone else. This doesn't. You just don't like it.

Re:I, for one... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186924)

If it keeps me away from all those a*holes posting witty remarks on Slashdot [pause to take sip of coffee], I'm for it as well.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187248)

Somebody mod this guy funny. He's earned at least a chuckle, alright?

Re:I, for one... (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187094)

This is a perfect example of free market, though. The market should create cafes where people can 'set up shop' and others where no electronics are allowed. There's no "they should do THIS because THAT is wrong" because it's a matter of opinion and both options can be available.

Re:I, for one... (1)

nstlgc (945418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187344)

That was not pretentious at all, you jack-off.

No Loitering, We are trying to make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186756)

There's a reason why the chairs in a lot of restaurants are uncomfortable.
They want you to eat and leave. Thank you for your business, please come again.

Re:No Loitering, We are trying to make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187046)

"They want you to eat and leave."

It's funny - I lived in Argentina in the 1960s, and it took us a long time to get used to the fact that when you went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, your dinner would take 3 to 4 hours. You COULD NOT eat in less than an hour. They would not bring your food that fast. Several courses, and each one would take almost an hour. Once we figured out they WANTED you to sit, relax, and enjoy your company, we really got into it. Wish it was that way here in the States.

Re:No Loitering, We are trying to make money (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187322)

If you go to a fancy restaurant in the states, that is how they operate. They don't expect to get more than two seatings in during an evening, say one at 6PM and another at 8:30-9PM. You're also paying several hundred dollars for a quality of food and service that makes it worthwhile to tie up a table for so long. If you go for your $5.95 buffet at the Golden Food Trough, it's in their best interest to shuffle you through as quickly as possible.

Put in another way, if you're at a restaurant whose menu has any prices other than whole dollar amounts, eat up, get out, and let the wait[er|ress] have another round of tipping customers.

Do they ban books? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186764)

As long as they ban books, magazines and other reading materials that's a good policy - I hate going to my local coffee shop for a quick drink and snack only to find that half of the tables are taken over by 3 person study groups who pushed 4 tiny tables together to make room for their books and papers, or rows of people on their laptops (some working, some just idling browsing the 'net, and that guy in the corner browsing porn).

But to ban a Kindle or Nook just because it's electronic seems like a stretch -- browsing is not a joy on either of those platforms, so it's not like someone is going to be spending hours answering his work email. Though he may spend hours reading an eBook, just like he would do with a paper book if he didn't have a Kindle.

[citation needed] (4, Insightful)

StDoodle (1041630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186766)

Now, I'm not saying I doubt that there are cafes banning such devices. But cafes -- especially indie establishments -- have a long history of having their individual, quirky policies. Is this one or two cafes that have banned said devices, and only said devices? Have the cafes in question banned all extended table-takeover "loitering" (for whatever that means in such a place)? I just find it rather difficult to get worked up over a post with so little information behind it. (Ok, a small amount of info on cafe history... but without the present situation clarified, what good is that?)

Re:[citation needed] (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186840)

Please, sir, be reasonable: requiring "facts", "citations", or (perish the thought) "evidence" of the sort that would earn a passing grade in Stats101 would be the absolute death of the sort of op-ed "journalism" that pads out newspapers across the land. How could you be so cruel?

Were it not for allowing their scribbling hacks to inflate personal grudges and tiny-value-of-N anecdotes into "trends", the NYT would probably have to do something comparatively expensive, like actual investigative reporting, to fill the space. Won't somebody please think of the Lifestyle section?

Re:[citation needed] (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187144)

They also tend to go out of business in droves, then blame it on the corporate shops and their homogenous atmosphere(s).

Quirky? How cute.... and essentially droll. I understand the need for turning tables, yet the thought of some over-caffienated jerk hovering over me as I try to finish a chapter is just a little too much. You remember Seinfeld's Soup Nazi? Welcome to NYC. Have a nice fucking day, and take your little Kindle with you.

I wish there was a cafe... (4, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186772)

where I could use my soldering iron and dremel. Also, the walls would be lined with component and fastener bins.

Re:I wish there was a cafe... (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186856)

I am interested in your idea and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

No seriously - a combination cafe/hackerspace would be awesome.

Re:I wish there was a cafe... (5, Interesting)

wertarbyte (811674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186960)

There is a location here in the city of Essen, germany that resembles your idea: http://www.unperfekthaus.de/e/ [unperfekthaus.de] It's a building housing an interesting combination of a restauraunt, art studio, electronic laboratory, stage etc. You can use most of the equipment for free, provided that you do it openly and thus allow spectators, each paying an entry fee of 5,5 EUR which includes an unlimited supply of coffee and soft drinks. Quite nice for hanging out, learning for an exam or soldering together some new devices. Of course, WLAN connectivity is available as well :-)

Re:I wish there was a cafe... (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187078)

where I could use my soldering iron and dremel. Also, the walls would be lined with component and fastener bins.

And we shall call it Radio Snack.

Re:I wish there was a cafe... (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187260)

"Okay that will be one dielectric latte' ... would you like batteries with that? no... okay, can I have your ZIP code please?"

Re:I wish there was a cafe... (1)

tangelogee (1486597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187360)

And we shall call it Radio Snack.

...or maybe Star-bits? (Yes, I know the technical term would be torx)

There is something nice about a tech-less cafe (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186774)

Imagine, people just maybe reading paper books, having good conversations with friends, being on dates, or just soaking up the smell of roasted coffee and the light perfume of the pleasant woman in the sweater next to you. No clickety-clack, no heads down and eyes glued to a screen, no thumbs frenetically moving over a tiny unearthly rectange, more people over 60 feeling at ease and not alienated, etc.

Nothing wrong with full-on hardcore technology style cafes, either. It's just a choice.

Re:There is something nice about a tech-less cafe (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187116)

Yup, I love the loud shuffle and crinkle of newspapers, the thuds and annoyed mutterings of people dropping books trying to turn book pages while still holding a cup of coffee, those are great. So much better that the absolutely silent, one-handed operation of an e-reader. But nope, none of your high tech gadgets that are improvements in nearly ever way.

Note: I do have a distinct fondness for physical books, and that's part of the reason I don't own an e-reader myself (the other being the DRM issues with a number of them). But while your argument is fine for something like a laptop (even though I don't completely agree with it), it holds no water against kindles and the like.

Indie = Pretentious now? (5, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186804)

I can understand people wanting to avoid the sound of spiders scratching behind earbuds, or bright flashing colours in the corner of one's eye but why ban silent, monochromatic book replacements? This sort of café sounds to me like a gathering place of pompous poseurs (possibly goateed) sat there with tattered - by their previous owners - copies of Milne spouting neo-luddite claptrap.

Here endeth the rant. If these places want to alienate paying customers then that's their right; it's just a shame there probably won't be another article on their inevitable going out of business. Of course, collecting all this sort [youtube.com] just makes it that much easier to avoid them, so I'm at best ambivalent about the whole thing.

P.S. I figure if the only source is a paywalled opinion piece then it shouldn't count as news...

Re:Indie = Pretentious now? (1, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187002)

When has "indie" not connoted "pretentious"?

Turn off the wi-fi (5, Insightful)

qwerty shrdlu (799408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186806)

If they don't want these people hanging out, why go to the trouble of luring them in?

Re:Turn off the wi-fi (1)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187076)

Because if they don't offer it, the customers will go to Starbucks, where the 700% markup on a cup of coffee makes up for the lost business the seatwarmers bring in?

Their cafe, their choice... (5, Interesting)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186810)

If it's made clear before I parted with money for a drink that something non-obvious is prohibited, then I've no problem at all - I can simply take my patronage elsewhere.

If it's only after I've bought a drink and sat down to read that I'm told, then I'm likely to be less impressed, but, at the end of the day, it's not really something I'm going to worry too much about - at worst, if I really do need to read something, I can walk out.

Since I tend to get a bottle of water, and maybe something to eat, I probably haven't lost much either, since I'll take them with me, but I could understand why someone who's not using a takeaway cup might be loathe to leave their (often expensive) coffee behind, but, I do try not to get riled over a few pounds if I can avoid it. Life is too short.

I wish Starbucks would ban freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35186866)

I wish Starbucks would do this to some extent. I had to quit frequenting a local Starbucks, when a group of 4 friends and I would always meet on a couple of times of week to drink coffee and eat pastries, and the last 5 times we were unable to find any seating. All the tables had been taken over by assholes who thought it was their right to setup their home offices there. To make matters worse I never saw 1 Starbucks cup or plate on any of the tables, so those assholes were nothing more than freeloaders showing no respect to the business or anyone else around them.

I told the manager that I know there is nothing she can do about it, but it has become quite clear that her store has been hijacked by low-life freeloaders who probably will have their UPS packages addressed to that place at some point.

I have never been back there.

Look past the device... (3, Insightful)

iceT (68610) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186886)

I'd wager it's not the device... or the table space that a laptop takes up... It's way more physical than that...

It's about CHAIRS and WIFI.

No one wants to go sit in a coffee shop and when you get there, there are no seats because people have 'set up shop' and are there for the long haul. They want you to enjoy your coffee, and LEAVE. Same goes for WIFI. What once was a sales feature to get you INTO the store: Free WiFi, is now something that KEEPS you in the store, but doesn't make any more money for the shops. How many people drink cup after cup of coffee the entire 2-3 hours they're sitting there? nope. they got one $2 cup of coffee, and then tie up the seats and the wifi for hours. And their WiFi is probably over taxed because of it...

Books don't consume WiFi, and most people don't read a book for hours.

Re:Look past the device... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187022)

I'd wager it's not the device... or the table space that a laptop takes up... It's way more physical than that...

It's about CHAIRS and WIFI.

No one wants to go sit in a coffee shop and when you get there, there are no seats because people have 'set up shop' and are there for the long haul. They want you to enjoy your coffee, and LEAVE. Same goes for WIFI. What once was a sales feature to get you INTO the store: Free WiFi, is now something that KEEPS you in the store, but doesn't make any more money for the shops. How many people drink cup after cup of coffee the entire 2-3 hours they're sitting there? nope. they got one $2 cup of coffee, and then tie up the seats and the wifi for hours. And their WiFi is probably over taxed because of it...

Books don't consume WiFi, and most people don't read a book for hours.

Your entire argument assumes that the largest coffee chain in the US can't do simple math. *$ offers free, unlimited wifi for a reason. What do you think that reason is?

Re:Look past the device... (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187240)

Starbucks are generally much larger than an indie coffee shop, plus not offering free wifi would hurt their business a lot more than it would help.

Re:Look past the device... (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187268)

It's not that much of a problem until customers are being turned away because there's nowhere to sit. Maybe you can use the "simple math" to figure out how to cover expenses (with a little left over) when your tables are returning $2-3 per hour at peak times. Note too that they tend to be located in high-traffic locations where rents are high.

It's a bit like airline pricing. The airline may be better off selling you a cheap ticket for a seat that would otherwise be empty, but you're not going to get that fare on flights they expect to fill up. Of course, it would be awkward for a cafe to operate that way.

Re:Look past the device... (1)

OnlyJedi (709288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187270)

Perhaps that reason is that Starbucks has economies of scale in place that small independent coffee shops don't. I'm sure Starbucks got a great deal from AT&T to provide the WiFi service, and is paying far less per month per store than any cafe would from their local ISP.

Re:Look past the device... (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187210)

Kindles don't "consume WiFi" either, unless you're using it to browse the web, in which case you really ought to get a more appropriate tool for the job.

Basically, Kindles are interchangeable with books and newspapers. If the cafe's okay with books, there's no reason to ban Kindles (or Nooks or any other dedicated e-reader).

Re:Look past the device... (2)

OnlyJedi (709288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187236)

e-readers don't normally consume WiFi either. Most have built-in 3G, and even the ones that don't only use WiFi when purchasing new books and the occasional web browsing. And here's a tip: most people don't buy e-readers for web browsing.

Re:Look past the device... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187280)

If people don't read books for hours, then why ban Kindles and Nooks? Those are books they are reading on there after all....

I'm not buying the argument that this is about chairs and wifi. If that's the case, then they would be banning more stuff like textbooks or notebooks, or instituting a maximum time you can sit at a table after a purchase.

Re:Look past the device... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187324)

Here in Santa Cruz there are some coffee shops that have taken a hard look at the numbers and decided to not offer WiFi. I don't know what they are doing with ebook readers, but maybe it's too soon to tell. Lulu Carpenter's [santacruzsentinel.com]

Tempest in a teapot (0)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186962)

An editorial complains about some coffee shops in New York which have taken to restricting the use of devices which the management feels might bother patrons. The editorial suggests that it would be better to return to 16th century conventions wherein coffee houses became forums for loudly expressing disaffection and dissent.

In other news, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and handed over power to the military, ousted by a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who demanded his removal.

Re:Tempest in a teapot (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187024)

Maybe this would be better characterized as a "monsoon in a mug"?

There really is a problem... (1)

grahamlord86 (1603545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35186988)

I've done the whole Sit In Costa Writing My Book On My MacBook thing, not out of pretense, but just because I write well in that environment.

And then one sunday, I walked into the same costa, and every- EVERY single table had at least 3 laptops on it, with school kids on MyFace and trailing charger leads to wall sockets.

I turned around and walked out, not wanted to be part of that horrific sight.

I think it's okay to have one or two laptops in a coffee shop, but it really can get excessive, and then it makes the shop a place to avoid.

Personally though, so long as they're not making noises, I don't see the harm in portable devices (iPad, Kindle, etc...) -they're not nearly so invasive as laptops are.

Re:There really is a problem... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187088)

hypocrite: When I do it it is okay but when other do it, it is unnaceptable

Re:There really is a problem... (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187214)

Where oh where are my mod points?

could they name one cafe? (5, Insightful)

boguslinks (1117203) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187014)

Would it have been too much trouble for the author of the Times piece to actually name a place that is prohibiting Kindles? She managed to get in her Charbucks plug without naming any of the villains.

Here's One That Apparently Unplugged (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187292)

Iris Cafe (Facebook) [facebook.com] : First, the good news! Fall has brought everyone back to the neighborhood and the cafe is bustling with customers old and new! Sadly, this means we are no longer able to offer wifi/computer use at tables. We understand that means some of you will have to go elsewhere, but we hope you'll come by for a coffee or a meal when possible!

Tabloid Fiction? (2)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187020)

This story sounds so tabloid I'm a little embarrassed that it is appearing on /. I'd read the story, except I can't. So I have to assume she cited no actual examples and basically could just as easily be making the entire thing up. You read these stories ALL THE TIME, it is like the cancer story every other week or the "shock action by authority figure" story you see every day.

I bet you'd struggle to find more than half a dozen such places in all of New York STATE. Which, frankly, makes for an entirely non-event. I'm sure you can find just as many private clubs that don't let a certain gender or sexual orientation in at all...

Re:Tabloid Fiction? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187170)

This story sounds so tabloid I'm a little embarrassed that it is appearing on /.

Yeah, you'd hope the /. editors, the true Walter Cronkites of new media, would stick to stories that can only be printed on larger paper sizes. More words make it more truthful!

Why is this bad? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187148)

It used to be that people would hang out in diners and Perkins to read the paper, drink coffee, etc... Then kids started coming in with their fancy laptops and their wifi. What they hell do they think they're doing with their new fangled computer thingys!! So the coffee shops saw a niche, took advantage of it and dinners lost a lot of patrons... Now those kids have gotten older, and they themselves don't want kids coming in and annoying them... what are they doing bringing in those new fangeled tablets? Where's the keyboard?!? It's just not right! Get those kids outa here! These sorts of coffee shops will be on the way out the door as soon as the new "Hang out and show off my techno gadget" shop opens.

Wiener Kaffeehaus (1)

zanian (1621285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187256)

I sort of understand the ambience argument regarding laptops. I live in Montreal and we have a lot of these want-to-be New York style cafes. Some of them are nice and I would understand a ban on such things. However, the kindle/e-book thing is simply an economic manoeuvre as many have said above.

I'm going to be living in Vienna for a year and I was reading up on their coffeehouse culture. I was surprised to find out that, while the drinks are way over priced, it is expected that you only buy one and stay as long as you want. The waiter even comes around periodically and fills/refills a glass of water for you. Even if the place is full, you are never made to feel like you have to leave. The mentality behind this is that you are a guest, and therefore, deserve to be treated as such. It could be true that this is also only a economic manoeuvre (if people are respected they will come back, word of mouth, etc.). However, it seems to just be an old tradition that hasn't changed.

Bah... i understand them.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187278)

There was a time you went into a cafe and talked to the person next to you... today there is starsucks and immitations, where you pay 3 times the price, have your coffee in a stupid plastic can instead of a real cup. There is no service.. no you have to stand in the line to get your coffee.. and well everyone who is in there has his earphones on his head and talks on facebook with the guy who is 300 miles away from you.. instead with the guy who is just around. I'm with the artilce. I'm from Vienna, we enjoy centuries of coffee culture.. and I'm against those people with there electronic devices... cutting them selfs of with those plugs in there ears... beleaving being at starsucks is cool....

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