Thursday, February 28, 2013

Barnes & Noble's real problem

(Photo from Barnes and Noble website)

My daughter is staying with her grandparents for a week so my husband and I had a date night out. By date night I mean we went to Steak and Shake and then went to Barnes & Noble so he could find a programming book.

Literally, I haven't been inside Barnes & Noble for almost a year. I buy A LOT of Ebooks and my paperback and hardcovers are usually bought online because they're cheaper. BUT there is something to be said for actually going into the store and looking for the book that you want.

But here is the problem with B&N, the books that people actually want to sit and look through instead of just purchasing online are in limited quantities.

Example:  My husband likes buying computer books for programming. These things are giant and like fifty bucks each. The computer books section at our local B&N is only a tiny shelf and he spends hours looking through that shelf and usually has to go home and find something he think might help on Amazon.

WHAT? Yeah, a giant book that he wants to spend a ton of money on and they don't have it available? How does that help B&N?

The same thing is true for niche books like baby journals. When we went to look for a baby journal for this latest daughter, there was only a tiny shelf and guess where it was? ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM! Yeah, my big pregnant butt had to sit on the floor just to look through the selection of five baby journals that they had. And, yes, I wanted to actually get one in person not just look online. Why? I want to preview it, see if it has everything I want and not just a two page sample. That is what a real book store is for.

And that adds into B&N next problem. People go into bookstores because they like looking at books. They like grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting in the cafe and reading a magazine or just perusing the stacks. Borders use to have a huge cafe that I loved to go and sit in, but B&N, not so much. It seems like every B&N I've gone to has downsized there cafe so they have a few tables, but they are always crowded. People get there, stack their books high, and then never leave. I would go and sit on a nice comfy chair to check out the baby journal, but they don't even have any sort of sitting areas. It's like they want you to get out of the store ASAP.

I've read recently that B&N is planning to close 20% of their brick and mortar stores. This saddens me because it is the ONLY bookstore in my town and I don't live in a small town, it's a city, actually. There are two major insurance company headquarters and two colleges. You would think we would have more in the realm of books, but sadly we don't. In the digital age more people are buying things online, but there are those things we want to see in person. We want to feel the book store vibe. We want to sit down with a cup of coffee and go through our giant programming books.

And if B&N wants to survive, instead of all their plans to cut stores and push the Nook on us as soon as we walk through the door, they should really focus on those niche things. The things that actually bring us into Barnes & Noble.

Do you still go to your local Barnes & Noble? Have you noticed the lack of niche books?


  1. My little ol' town doesn't have a bookstore unless you count the book barn which has used books. But if I want to go get a new book the closest store is B&N in the next town over. Sometimes I make the trip because I like the experience. I like browsing, gathering five books, reading the first few chapters of each, and then deciding which one to buy. It's a ritual I enjoy and I really wish bookstores would focus more on the experience readers have in their stores than pushing ereaders at them.

    1. "I really wish bookstores would focus more on the experience readers have in their stores than pushing ereaders at them."

      Exactly! You hit the nail on the head!


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