I saw a few days ago that Barnes & Noble lost approximately $2.7 million during the first quarter of 2009, a scary number to a guy like me but less than the bookseller was expected to lose by those supposedly in the know. Digging into the details a little, it seems that both store sales and online sales are slipping for B&N, so the company's problems may be growing as the marketing of books continues to evolve.
Is the Kindle starting to impact B&N's online sales? I don't own a Kindle but I do have a first generation Sony eReader and I can truthfully say that I still, after all this time, much prefer owning a hard copy of a book - even the ones I might be disposing of later, or maybe, especially of the ones I am not all that sure I will want to keep. I know that I can get some cash back, or another book in trade, for a hard copy I own, something that seems impossible (or illegal) with e-books. But maybe I'm one of the exceptions to the rule and Kindle and eReader really are starting to impact the online sales of B&N and Borders.
The bigger problem that I observe when I go to Barnes & Noble is that so many people seem to be there to drink coffee, while trashing a few magazines and newspapers, or to do high school or college homework research. I seldom see those same folks at the cash register when I'm checking out. And, too, it seems that it's mostly bestsellers and other books by "hot" authors that are going out the door when I'm around despite the tremendous number of square feet devoted to publisher back lists. I really, really hope that stores like B&N and Borders survive forever, but I'm starting to wonder what they will look like in another ten years - or if they will even exist (remember Crown books?).