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Tech-Unfriendly Cafes Say No Kindles Allowed 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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Tech-Unfriendly Cafes Say No Kindles Allowed

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  • by Neil_Brown ( 1568845 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @12:43PM (#35186810) Homepage

    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.

  • Re:I, for one... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @12:45PM (#35186822) Homepage
    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... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 12, 2011 @12:51PM (#35186870)

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

  • by wertarbyte ( 811674 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @12:59PM (#35186960) Homepage
    There is a location here in the city of Essen, germany that resembles your idea: [] 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 :-)
  • by Anonymous Psychopath ( 18031 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @01:08PM (#35187022) Homepage

    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?

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @01:18PM (#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.

  • by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @03:29PM (#35187972) Homepage

    Give the manager control of the hot spot. If he is running out seats, set the wifi to kick MAC addresses off after 15min and not allow them back on for 2hrs (earlier if he turns the enforcement off). You can defeat this by switching MAC addresses but the people who set up office during rush hours should get the message.

    FIve or six people setting up office can ruin a Starbucks. They spread things all over the tables forcing you to ask them to clear off a spot for you to use. Then they make comments about not spilling anything on their precious work. Some of them are pretty rude about it. It completely ruins the experience by putting you in the spot of invading their office or you have to drink standing. I've learned which coffee shops have this problem and I'll walk farther to get to ones that are more coffee friendly. Of course that's not much fun in three feet of snow.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @05:25PM (#35188746) Homepage

    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.

    Except you can still do that if you have a paper book. This has nothing to do with table space, your rant is completely offtopic.

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