Lisa and I stopped by Barnes & Noble last night to browse a bit. They had lots of big stacks of books we didn't want or need - stocked, I suppose, in the hope that someone would buy them. We finally found a small connect-the-dots book for the 6-year-old's birthday and trekked all the way back across the store to the checkout counter. Half-a-dozen registers there but only one cashier, and she was attempting to sell some discount plan to the customer ahead of us. Selling these things is a long process when you're next in line waiting for the one open register, and it takes even longer when the customer realizes she will have to fork over 25 bucks for the privilege of saving money. She balked at the price, which she hadn't heard during the hurried sales spiel. Paperwork then had to be undone, a phone call (?!) had to be made, and it dragged on and on while we waited and the line grew behind us like cobwebs in an empty house. Which the bookstore was, pretty much - there were so few customers we parked two spaces from the door. Just our little band of unhappy customers and the annoying jazz they piped in to hide the silence.
During the long wait while we listened to crappy jazz, I formulated White's Axiom: the longer the wait in a bookstore line, the better amazon.com looks.