'as the book costs more people need to be able to touch before they buy'
Which is that as the book costs more any damage costs more to absorb- hence staff need to protect it more.
All I think is wrong here is the manner the situation was dealt with. If the staff member had said something like 'sorry, we've had a few books damaged lately so unfortunately im going to have to ask you to put it down, but ill happily tlk you through the book' would we be having this discussion?
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I certainly would be. Browsing is a part of retail, this is why some retailers have changed the way they display stock(shrink-wrapping, dummy cases, inserts etc etc), so if you don't want people to browse, you don't put stock on the floor that they can browse. Nobody is interested in having a staff member who's main purpose is to sell you a product talk you through that product, the reasons why should be self-evident. If I go into GW and I'm considering buy a codex or BL book, I want to pick it up and look through it, I want to check a few of the units, I want to read some of the fluff, I want to see if the author's style is something I'll appreciate; you really think a GW staffer, even if they knew my preferences in advance, is going to say "No dude, don't spend £20 on the new Grey Knight 'dex, you'll hate it, the quality of writing is terrible"? Of course not, but being able to discern such things before making the purchase is pretty much the entire reason brick and mortar stores still exist, other than old people who hate computers, take away that opportunity and all that's left is a 3D web shop that reads out the sales-blurb with an annoying level of enthusiasm.