October 28, 2014
Waterstones Bookstore organizes a slumber-party
by Bradley Babendir
On Oct. 16, a tourist visiting London found himself in a precarious position: locked inside a Waterstones bookstore. After two hours and a handful of futile escape attempts, he sent out a tweet asking, very politely, to be let out. Soon after, he was set free. In a world that makes sense, this would have been an embarrassing moment for a business. In a world that makes sense, accidentally trapping a consumer in your store after hours should be somewhere on a list of things to not do.
However, we do not live in a world that makes sense. We live in a world where Ned Yost is managing a team in the World Series and Idris Elba agreed to star in No Good Deed (you’re better than that, Idris!). So, instead of being an embarrassment, locking a customer in their store turned out to be a great marketing strategy.
On Friday, Waterstones held a slumber party at their Piccadilly location. Admittance to this affair was much tougher than saving an extra cookie for Suzie Smith at lunch time. Potential attendees had to apply by letting the store know what books they would be interested in reading during their sequestration. When all was said and done, 19 people were selected to voluntarily experience the nightmare of a fellow human.
Unfortunately, instead of anything crazy or whimsical happening, it appears that everyone just had a jolly good time. The slumber-partiers were not left without structure, presumably to prevent the entire situation from devolving into an extended scene from 1994’s The Pagemaster, starring Macauly Culkin, Patrick Stewart and the eternal Whoopi Goldberg.
According to The Guardian, the night started with a tour of the store, and then “they were interrupted by a [Hercule] Poirot lookalike and a [Reginald] Jeeves impersonator, who both read fragments of books for the guests.” After that profound weirdness, Richard Wiseman, a “sleep-expert,” spoke to the crowd about ways to fight the good fight against insomnia and sleep deprivation. Presumably, he did not recommend sleeping in a public space with a bunch of strangers. However, because science never misses an opportunity to ruin a good time, Wiseman asked all present to join in a small scale experiment. Before bed, half of them read a romance story, while the other half read a horror story, and they were told to record their findings regarding how their dreams were affected. Those findings, well, they have to speak for themselves:
“It worked,” said Elcombe Webber, who was given the romantic read. “I had a very fruity dream, with all my friends having sex in an art installation and me telling them off.” She had also been looking at art books earlier in the night. “I blame him entirely.”
Eventually, the guests were shown their sleeping area and encouraged to read whatever they pleased. The Guardian, acting as a surrogate parent for every one of the lucky 19, reported that everyone was able to fall asleep at some point, and while over half read more than 25 pages, none were able to finish a whole book. Though there is no confirmation, it is assumed that nobody ate too much candy, or cut their own hair or anything. All things considered, locking someone in their bookstore proved to be a rousing success.