Mirror-filled Chinese bookstore seems infinite

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XL-Muse designed this new bookstore in Hangzhou's Star Avenue commercial center, using mirrors and clever perspective to make its many rooms seem infinite and mind-meltingly weird. Read the rest

Former Starbucks designer on what makes a "third place" feel like home

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Suppose you wanted to design a home away from home. What would you put in? What would you leave out? What kind of seating would you have? (Soft? Hard? Low? High?) What kind of tables — big working slabs or intimate little two-tops?

A good “third place” may seem casually homey, but its design is the end result of a million tiny decisions. This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., it’s a conversation with Kambiz Hemati, who oversaw store design at Starbucks for two years and now owns Love Coffee Bar in Santa Monica, where he gets to think hard — and think small — about what makes a place feel like home.

Thanks for listening. And if you like what you hear, please subscribe and leave us a rating and/or review on the iTunes Store. 

Check out all the great podcasts that Boing Boing has to offer! Read the rest

Used bookstores doing fine, allegedly

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Trendy idea: America's bookstores—Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc—failed not because of Amazon, but from adopting a doomed big-box retail model that cannot be escaped. The evidence: UK bookstore chains are thriving, having located themselves in smaller units surrounded by foot traffic. And it turns out that wee used bookstores are doing great in the U.S, too.

Drew Nelles writes that The Used Bookstore Will Be the Last One Standing, focusing on Topos, a bookcafé in Queens.

Other shops have shuttered, or fled Manhattan in search of cheaper rents. But this has not necessarily been the case for used bookstores, many of which are thriving. “Strangely enough, it’s the big chain bookstores that are more of an anachronism,” Björkenheim said. “Even Strand is having to do a lot more of what Barnes & Noble was desperately doing for the last ten years. I don’t even know what they’re selling now—more tchotchkes and t-shirts and tote bags. Which is something a used bookstore doesn’t necessarily have to resort to.” The whole industry was probably heading in this direction, he added: “smaller used bookstores, rather than enormous megastores.”

Read the rest

Book vending machine takes unwanted Christmas gifts instead of money

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In a clever marketing stunt, German book publisher Bastei Lübbe and bookshop Hugendubel built a vending machine that accepts unwanted Christmas presents as payment for new books. According to TheBookseller.com, the machine will be tour shopping centers in Germany this month. The collected gifts will go to charity. Read the rest

Porn played over Target store loudspeakers

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Shoppers at a Target in Campbell, California on Wednesday were surprised by the sounds of a porn film played over the store's loudspeaker system. Gina Young, shopping with her two 3-year-old children, recorded and posted this recording the event.

“We are actively reviewing the situation with the team to better understand what happened and to help ensure this doesn’t happen again,” a Target spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.

Thing is, it isn't the first time. In July, shoppers at a Target in San Luis Obispo, California heard grunts and moans over the loudspeakers. The store was "evacuated" until the audio was silenced, according to report in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Read the rest

Amazon launches “Etsy-killer” Handmade at Amazon, a marketplace for handmade goods

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Online retail giant Amazon just launched a marketplace for handcrafted goods: Handmade at Amazon. It's “an arts-and-crafts bazaar online that squarely takes aim at a niche but growing market dominated by the Brooklyn-based Etsy,” as the New York Times puts it.

Handmade at Amazon went live early Thursday more than 80,000 items from roughly 5,000 sellers in 60 countries around the world. They're launching with only 6 categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby.

Crafters can sell their crocheted pants or 3D-printed succulent cozies on the new Amazon marketplace, just as they've been able to for years at Etsy, a $2bn-a-year business .

Amazon's business is a lot bigger: $75 billion in annual sales. And Amazon's is growing, while Etsy appears to be challenged. One recent change at Etsy that allowed sellers to outsource their production to others is seen by many as a move away from its maker/seller roots.

Amazon, on the other hand, promises “Genuinely Handmade.” In the launch announcement, Amazon emphasizes that everything will be “crafted and sold directly from artisans.”

“We only approve artisans whose products are handcrafted,” said Amazon in a statement. “We are factory-free.”

Them's fighting words. Is this the end of Etsy as we know it? I hope not, I love Etsy.

Here's the full Amazon press release. And here's a snip from the Times story:

Amazon will start out with six categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby — Mr.

Read the rest

Home Depot reports huge spike in rubber band sales around Burning Man

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Home Depot stores located in the area of Reno, Carson City, and Nevada's Black Rock Desert--where Burning Man takes place--create special Burning Man sections that cater to people who are headed to the annual festival. These stores report huge sales spikes for certain items. Read the rest

Go to Kmart to use the Internet to shop at Kmart

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"Kmart Solutions" in-store video from 1998. Read the rest

The fate of the big box store

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What happens to all the Wal-marts when we have every last Q-tip droned in from Amazon warehouses? Read the rest

Radio Shack bankruptcy update: most customer data will be destroyed, not sold to pay creditors

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When electronics retailer Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy, the chain proposed selling customers' personal data to raise cash and repay creditors. That's not gonna happen, and the news is seen as a win for the right to privacy. Read the rest

End of Radio Shack

Radio Shack is on its deathbed: $62 million in cash left which apparently isn't even enough to close the 1,100 stores it needs to shut down to stay on life support. Read the rest

Boob and sock money not welcome in the sweaty summertime, sorry

From Adam R. Bowser's Nova Scotia-based Twitter feed, a timely retail sign: "Due to the rising summer temperatures...We will NOT accept any BOOB or SOCK money! Sorry for the inconvenience! It's gross. Thanks."

(via JWZ)

(Image: Socks, Quinn Dombrowski, CC-BY) Read the rest

Archway of books

Vivs Ngo snapped this wonderful shot of Los Angeles's Last Bookstore, an exuberant temple of the bookseller's faith. Read the rest

Santa the Hutt: grotesque photo-op Santa

The Betabrand retail store in San Francisco's Mission district now sports a grotesque window display of Santa Claus, entitled Santa the Hutt. Chris from BetaBrand writes, "Our aim: To poke fun at holiday excess and explore anti-Santa sentiment. Our achievement: Over a thousand people have taken holiday photos at our Valencia Street store since rolling him out last week. " Read the rest

How the Strand sells print books to ebook readers

Avi Solomon snapped this pic of the window display at NYC bookstore The Strand lauding the virtues of their "Real books priced lower than ebooks," including the fact that you can read them during take-off and landing.

Real Books... (via Boing Boing Flickr Pool) Read the rest

WalMart's trove of decade-old, massive, low-capacity hard-drives

Consumerist readers Caskey and Sara went digging through the shelves of a WalMart to see what kind of antiquated computer hardware they could find. They were not disappointed: at least one branch of the store is still selling massive, 2.5GB Seagate drives for $79 (for comparison, consider this $70, tiny 1TB hard-drive with 400X the capacity -- I've been using one as my office backup drive for a couple months and can personally attest to its reliability). There was more, too -- Consumerist has a whole series of them. Read the rest

Tokyo's "unmanned stores" - honor-system sheds where farmers sell their surplus produce

In Japan, farmers sell their blemished, surplus and otherwise unmarketable vegetables in unstaffed, honor-system roadside stalls called "Unmanned stores" ("mujin hanbai"). Produce is set out in trays with an anchored cashbox and a note inviting passers-by to take what they please and leave payment in the box. Farmers sometimes add recipes and other serving suggestions. Here's a map of 120+ mujin hanbais, in Nerima ward -- part of greater Tokyo (a city whose sprawl encompasses a surprising amount of farmland). A fascinating, lavishly illustrated article on PingMag explores the use and practice of these stores, including the growing trend to coin-operated lockers. Read the rest

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