People Gotta Eat: Laptop Loitering in NYC Coffeehouses

A sign of the times in New York City: the Wall Street Journal reports that coffeehouses are limiting laptop usage to discourage loitering over a latte for hours, taking up space.

As one coffee shop in Brooklyn puts it, “Dear customers, we are absolutely thrilled that you like us so much that you want to spend the day… [but] people gotta eat, and to eat they gotta sit.”

For now the trend seems limited to NYC’s independent coffeehouses. Bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble don’t plan to follow suit. It makes sense. Just like restaurants, coffeehouses make money with customer turnover. NYC real estate is expensive.  The rent isn’t cheap and neither are the chairs occupied by leisurely sippers and surfers. It’s not much different than a diner asking you to shove off to the New York Public Library if you’re gonna read the paper and not buy anything.

Big bookstores, like Borders and Barnes and Noble, are a different ballgame.

Borders charges customers for WiFi; Barnes and Noble doesn’t. But more importantly, given the change in how people buy books — and read them — these store may have a niche market: bibliophiles and freelancers without offices.

Can Kindle cubicles with coffee be far behind?