Saturday, October 24, 2015

Barnes & Noble Really Regrets Driving All Those Independent Bookstores Out of Business and Now Wants to Re-create That Experience Via an E-Reader? Gimme a Break

For obvious reasons, Barnes & Nobles is probably considerably more understanding today about how it feels to be forced to close down bookstores than the chain was back in the nineties when it was rather gleefully causing independent bookstores around the country to fall like a chain of dominoes.  "What goes around, comes around" is a cliché that became a cliché for good reason, but the gods of Barnes & Noble management certainly never expected something like an Amazon to come along to so quickly to knock them off the lofty perch they had assumed would be theirs for a while.

Galen Moore over at the website BostInno has an interesting take on precisely that bit of bookstore history:
Now, indie bookstores are back stronger than ever. Borders is gone and Barnes & Noble's future is uncertain. Now the big-box bookstore chain wants to bring back the experience of browsing books in a bookstore with a knowledgeable staff to help with good picks. Except they're bringing it back on an e-reader. 

So Barnes & Nobles wants to bring back that old independent bookstore experience for its customers - even though so many of its bookstore employees don't seem to know squat about books - but they want to do it on their proprietary e-reader, the Nook.  Give me a break, B&N.

Here's my favorite part of Mr. Moore's article:
 Sales of their Nook e-reader keep falling. If current trends persist, at some point there will be more indie bookstores in business than there are Barnes & Noble e-readers in use.

Somewhere way down deep inside me, I would hate to see Barnes & Noble fail to the point where it had to shutdown all of its brick & mortar stores, but it is really, really hard for me to feel sorry for these guys.  Really hard.

6 comments:

  1. I still like my little Nook Simple Touch, but I haven't bought anything from B&N in maybe a couple years, and this isn't likely to change that. 1) They treat their paying customers like potential criminals by making it difficult (or maybe impossible - not sure if the workaround still works) to download their e-books to their computers before sideloading them into their Nooks. 2) Their closest physical store is an hour and a half away from me. 3) When I do go to a physical store, I spend more in their Starbucks than I do on books, because they either don't have what I'm looking for or they have it at list price.

    I admit, BN has lurched along for longer than I expected, but every year I find myself wondering if this will be the year I'll have to look for an acceptable alternative device for EPUB-reading. Too bad I'm not more of a fan of reading on my tablet.

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    1. The whole in-store shopping experience seems to have gone downhill in the last several years. I have two B&N stores within10 miles of me (in different directions). One has devoted so much space to the Nook, toys, puzzles, and the coffee shop that the book selection has greatly suffered. And they took out all the seating except for benches in the magazine area. The other does not devote as much space to the Nook, but a tremendous amount of space to CDs and DVDs. Again, add in the toys and puzzles, and book choice has suffered. Almost no seating, but not as bad as the other store. Anyway, I used to spend at least 90 minutes per trip just browsing and buying. Now it's 15 minutes, max, and I usually leave empty-handed. Heck, the dumbest thing is the number of books that are much, much cheaper at the B&N website than they are in a store...even if I can find them in the store. I buy way too many books to pay more than I have to, especially when B&N offers free postage to members. Seems crazy and it's probably why they are losing so much money every quarter.

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  2. While I do remember how they drove smaller stores out of business back in the day, at this point they are the only show in town for a lot of folks out there. I do wish it was a better show.

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    1. Very true, James. But they try so hard to compete with Amazon now that the show is getting more and more boring every month. It's the only good bookstore within easy driving distance of me because if I don't want to face all the traffic inside Houston's 610 Loop, it's B&N or pretty much nothing else.

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  3. I used to love shopping at their stores when they sold books. I stopped going to their stores a couple years ago because I got tired of going in to buy a book and having it not be there. I do shop them online though. I do not have a Nook.

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  4. It has become frustrating for sure, Stefanie. I suppose the changes helped the company's bottom line but as a BOOK customer, I hate it. Selection has gone all to hell, for sure. And have you noticed how many books are much, much cheaper at their online store than in the brick & mortar locations? I find that to be strange.

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