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Old 01-11-2013, 10:51 PM   #1
JxK
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The Wrong Goodbye of Barnes and Noble

An interesting blog post about the state of B&N and the publishing industry.

Quote:
Publishers are on a crash course learning how to survive without any volume booksellers, and in an environment with one retailer (oh, guess) representing as much of its business as — well, who knows? Eighty percent? More? That alone is likely to make publishers give up on printing books — there’s no sense in printing books if your main outlet isn’t going to order any until they sell them — and join the digital “revolution.”

In short, B&N’s scorched earth policy of the 1990s has ultimately left us with, well, scorched earth. If the book is going to survive it, it’s going to take some real revolutionary activity, indeed.
Worth reading, at any rate.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:15 PM   #2
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I miss the 1, 2 or even 3 book stores in the Malls.

Each had a niche usually, and you could browse to discover what you might like.

B&N took that over, and everything is gone.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:27 AM   #3
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If B&N does disappear, I think we'll see a lot more of those independent bookstores spring up.

But it is curious that the article concludes that because Amazon doesn't buy a title until it's sold, the publishers will give up printing the books to begin with. Nothing like concluding that because you're selling millions of copies, it's time to get out of the business altogether...

As for showrooming, I do that at the library.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaKing View Post
I miss the 1, 2 or even 3 book stores in the Malls.

Each had a niche usually, and you could browse to discover what you might like.

B&N took that over, and everything is gone.
Exactly the same thing happened in the UK. The chain that dominates here is Waterstones - virtually all the independent bookshops have gone.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:52 AM   #5
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How is Waterstones doing? Is it facing issues like Barnes and Noble?

Anyway, about the article. I'm not sure I buy that B&N is failing because they're stocking too many non-book items. A lot of their loss recently was because of Nook problems. I'm not sure how the author thinks B&N can avoid store closure when ebook adoption growth has not yet stopped.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:52 AM   #6
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It's very interesting! Thank you for sharing JxK.
The more I read articles like that, the less I know where I stand regarding my buying habits. I look for good prices while trying to remember that the lower one isn't necessary the best move in the long run, but...
I'll try to keep indie stores in mind a little bit more
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:54 AM   #7
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Same ol' story. As Dylan said, "The Times they are a-changin'"

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Last edited by kennyc; 01-12-2013 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charmian View Post
Anyway, about the article. I'm not sure I buy that B&N is failing because they're stocking too many non-book items. A lot of their loss recently was because of Nook problems. I'm not sure how the author thinks B&N can avoid store closure when ebook adoption growth has not yet stopped.
I understand it as being because of poor strategy and that *a* part of that strategy was to be too short-sighted when creating a desert land in the bookseller industry in the USA (if that makes sense).
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
Exactly.
The dust has yet to settle so everything is obscured by the disruption.
Sometimes the attempts to get ahead of change do more harm than good.

One thing, though, writing an epitaph for B&N is premature.
Yes, they just fell flat on their face and now their aura of relevance is questioned. A good thing; too much of B&N's role has been tied up in their "last bookstore standing" mystique and the idea that they were too indispensable to fail. Now it is clear that they are *not* indispensable nor are they too big to fail. More, the company as it is now structured and run is looking very much non-viable.
The good news is they're not so close to the edge that they *must* go over.
"Betting on retail" doesn't seem to be working so it may be time for B&N managers to, instead, "Bet on print". There is time for a new and more customer-focused strategy.

Or not.

Maybe B&N does go over the edge.
Won't be the end of the world.
Maybe we go back to the 70's, before the big chains, before the warehouse stores... To newstands and general retailers and indies.

There are still lots and lots of indies out there.
And, going back to the Borders implosion, there was interest in buying up a lot of the stores (at the right price) so there are people keeping an eye on B&M pbook retailing as a business.

Out of the ashes of the (still unlikely) fall of B&N might come a new era of leaner, smarter book retailers and a new national chain or two. (For those that think a national chain is a good idea.)

Times *are* changing and in the open and competitive US market it is the needs and interests of consumers that decide. And if pbook B&M consumers decide they'd rather give their money to Inndie retailers, well, that is their privilege. And their power.

B&N worries overmuch over the future of publishing and they are forever looking to please their BPH overlords. But of consumers' concerns and needs they don't speak of much.

They make a big fuss over not carrying in print what they can't carry in ebook... but only when its Amazon or DC on the other end. When its Mighty MacMillan... Well, then they just look the other way.

This must change.
Or not.
(shrug)

B&N is not indispensable to consumers. And that is why they are where they are, because they don't even try to be.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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I've heard that Amazon really wants the Big Publishers to provide them with digital files, and they'll POD book orders they get. The Big Publishers so far have been resisting, maybe because then there will be no way to know how many books are actually sold (a game the BPHs play with their authors, I understand).

The last time I was in a B&N store, all I saw was 50 shades being stressed. I bought a travel mug. I couldn't find any of the books I was looking for.

The last time I was in an indy bookstore, I was sneered at for reading romances.

If people at Amazon criticize my reading tastes, they don't do it to my face, so I don't mind.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:53 AM   #11
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I certainly found it easier to browse for books in the physical store rather than on-line.

One of the biggest problems that indies have it the expense associated with having inventory, especially with the various tax laws regarding inventory.

One other thing to consider is that when the mega publishing groups have to start dealing with more than a couple of mega chains, all of a sudden being a mega publisher isn't quite so advantageous. I can see genre publishers (SF/F, mystery, romance, etc...) being spun back off again.

It's going to be interesting to see how it all breaks out. A lot will depend on who steps into the void and what solutions they offer. If someone steps up with a better way to match readers to books that they may want to purchase, be it dead tree or ebooks, then they could really take off. You also have to think about which market one is talking about. There are a lot of different type of consumers out there.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwalker8 View Post
I certainly found it easier to browse for books in the physical store rather than on-line.
...
My experience is just the opposite. At least with Amazon. I find that their recommendations for similar books based on the one I'm looking at and suggestions based on my wish list or buying habits etc are excellent and give me much to browse and learn about, in fact I often find myself spending way too much time following suggestions, and browsing books.

This could never happen in a physical book store arranged by category and author.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:17 PM   #13
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Mine, too, KennyC.

And I don't have a Kindle, but when buying ebooks, I choose Amazon every time over B&N.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:17 PM   #14
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When MS buys B&N, they will add bestsellers to their MS stores and everything else will be available for order. They may even print and bind books at the store. When you order a book (which will be shipped free to your home or store), MS will send en e-book to your account.

What % of book sales are to schools and libraries these days? The publishers still have customers. It's just the B&M stores that are under pressure.
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Old 01-12-2013, 02:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
My experience is just the opposite. At least with Amazon. I find that their recommendations for similar books based on the one I'm looking at and suggestions based on my wish list or buying habits etc are excellent and give me much to browse and learn about, in fact I often find myself spending way too much time following suggestions, and browsing books.

This could never happen in a physical book store arranged by category and author.
I entirely agree. Amazon's web site is great for browsing. They really do know how to sell books. (And pretty much everything else, for that matter.)
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