I browse the same two bookstores every weekend, and during the week I usually manage to make one or two other stops at different shops. You might think that would get expensive...and it used to...but the sad truth today is that I walk away empty-handed at least four out of five times I go to a bookstore. The bottom line is that there are fewer local bookstores for me to shop at, they carry fewer titles on the shelves, and they all carry pretty much the same limited selection.
So I come home, crank up the Kindle, and if the e-book version of what I was hoping to find is not too ridiculously priced, download a copy and begin reading it - all in just a few seconds. And take note, Mr. Barnes & Noble bigwig, I said "Kindle," not "Nook." That means that if you want to sell me a book, it is going to have to happen at a cash register housed in a brick and mortar bookstore.
And I'm not expecting obscure titles and huge author back catalogs. Those have always been hard to find, often requiring special orders and patience on the part of the buyer. No, what I'm expecting is to see more of the "big" book titles being released every month instead of four new books that have James Patterson's name slapped on the cover, a few new thrillers by the same old names, and a whole bunch of relatively silly chick-lit titles. (I get it that a huge percentage of books are sold to females...I do, but do try to remember that some men read more than thrillers.) Where is all the serious literary fiction that gets released every month?
Why is this happening? Well, maybe, just maybe, it's because I have to make my way through all the puzzles, toys, vinyl albums, Nooks, greeting cards, and tiny little people crafted to look something like every character from every successful TV show of the last decade before I get to the books. Bookstore managers, you are fast squeezing books right off the floor, aren't you?
While I'm at it, one last thing: if you are going to bother to carry the new hardcover addition to a long-established series, would it kill you to carry the couple of books that preceded the new hardcover? If I haven't read those already, I'm probably not going to buy the hardcover first - and if it takes me forever to find copies of the older ones, your flashy new hardcover might be in paper by the time I'm ready for the new one. But if they are there all at the same time...side by side...I will very likely be tempted to purchase all of them. Think about it. OK?
Barnes & Noble, you got what you wished for. First you killed the smaller bookstore chains in the country, than you killed off the last few remaining big ones. Job well done...from your point of view, I'm sure. But now you seem equally intent on driving away serious book customers at the same rate you killed off the competition. You are really good at creating Kindle sales - and I know you don't want to do that. We need more titles (better chosen ones) on the shelves, not fewer titles than ever.