Friday, June 05, 2009

Background Music

Perhaps, if I got out more, I would not be so terribly sensitive to background music. I confess that there have been times that I have enjoyed background music, which leads me to imagine that perhaps, with the general desensitization to music and its constant availability that has quietly (and not so quietly) changed the way a lot of people think about music in the marketplace, perhaps background music has changed. Or, perhaps, it is actually being used for a certain kind of manipulation.

I used to enjoy going to book stores. Sometimes the people working at book stores would have a radio up by the register, and I would enjoy the counterpoint between what was on the radio (over at the front of the store) and what I was thinking of reading. It used to be local programming--recordings put on a turntable or a CD machine by a person sitting in a radio booth somewhere within a 50-100 mile radius, who knew that part of the listening audience was made of people in book stores. Once in a while, during the CD age, people would bring in CDs that they wanted to listen to while they were working. And they tended to be sensitive to their customers.

I would spend both hours and money in book stores (which I refuse to call "bookstores," by the way). Yesterday's book store experience (which I suppose, being at a mega-chain book store, should be called a "bookstore" experience), made it impossible for me to spend either time or money.

The very loud country music that played over who knows how many speakers, along with horrible progressive-lens-unfriendly-lighting that made me wonder if I needed new glasses, or even a new prescription, made it impossible for me to concentrate. The rest of my family (all people who enjoy reading, by the way) found it impossible to stay in there as well.

I contemplated the idea that the marketing overlords of this "bookstore" might be thinking of making the "bookstore" a place that would be uncomfortable to read, the way fast-food restaurants engineer their furniture in a way that makes it uncomfortable to sit for much longer than the length of a fast-food meal. Perhaps they want to discourage browsing, making it necessary for you to buy a book in order to decide whether you want to read it.

1 comment:

Michael Leddy said...

The background music in said store has really become foreground music.