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Old 07-23-2014, 05:44 PM   #31
rcentros
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I'm going to throw a flag on this common misconception. To my knowledge, B&N has never "run" anyone out of business. To my mind, that implies a targeted, conscious, concerted effort to drive others out of business.

Most of the book stores I've seen suffer and go under from competition with B&N was a product of their own choices. Many of the owners/managers were nice people, who got into it because they loved books, but had no great head for business. They had survived in a certain type of market, where they were the only choice around. Then faced with the competition of a bigger, stronger business they caved.

Some would say that B&N's bestseller pricing was predatory, but it was not below cost. Many indys were able to adapt and change. Many didn't.
I lived in several cities and towns growing up. Almost all of them had healthy, local bookstores which competed fine with the mall stores, PickWick, B. Dalton's, Waldenbooks, etc. When B&N came to town, they almost all went out of business within a year or two -- as did the smaller mall bookstores. So it really doesn't matter to me if B&N was particularly "predatory" or not, the end result is that they ran out the smaller bookstores. Hence, I don't feel that sorry for them if they refuse to compete with Amazon. And I don't really consider Amazon particularly "predatory" either -- they just want to sell their books.
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:59 PM   #32
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I lived in several cities and towns growing up. Almost all of them had healthy, local bookstores which competed fine with the mall stores, PickWick, B. Dalton's, Waldenbooks, etc. When B&N came to town, they almost all went out of business within a year or two -- as did the smaller mall bookstores. So it really doesn't matter to me if B&N was particularly "predatory" or not, the end result is that they ran out the smaller bookstores. Hence, I don't feel that sorry for them if they refuse to compete with Amazon. And I don't really consider Amazon particularly "predatory" either -- they just want to sell their books.
True enough. I remember when there was shoe repair store in every neighbourhood, and specialty candy stores, and a mom and pop grocery store nearby no matter where you were. Their numbers have dwindled to the point that they are hard to find. But some still seem to have thrived, or at least survived. And other businesses have become more prolific. Specialty cookware and linen stores, are everywhere it seems, and specialty clothing stores and specialty furniture stores have become more common despite big box stores selling the same items both online and B&M. And restaurants of course and health food stores......

Going into business is risky, requires hard work and adaptability, plus location and luck to name a few factors, but then I think it always was.

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Old 07-23-2014, 07:59 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by rcentros View Post
I lived in several cities and towns growing up. Almost all of them had healthy, local bookstores which competed fine with the mall stores, PickWick, B. Dalton's, Waldenbooks, etc. When B&N came to town, they almost all went out of business within a year or two -- as did the smaller mall bookstores. So it really doesn't matter to me if B&N was particularly "predatory" or not, the end result is that they ran out the smaller bookstores. Hence, I don't feel that sorry for them if they refuse to compete with Amazon. And I don't really consider Amazon particularly "predatory" either -- they just want to sell their books.
Same story here.
My favorite local bookstore coexisted with the mall chains for decades.
They went under in less than a year after the warehouses came to town.

Was it B&N's fault? Borders?
Or maybe it was the publishers' fault for supporting the system of volume based discounts that lets consumers buy books cheaper at B&N (and Amazon) than the indies can buy them from their distributor.

I've even heard of some indies fullfiling special orders by buying through Amazon prime. (Shhh!)

Cheaper and way faster delivery.
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Old 07-24-2014, 12:33 PM   #34
RHWright
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Originally Posted by rcentros View Post
I lived in several cities and towns growing up. Almost all of them had healthy, local bookstores which competed fine with the mall stores, PickWick, B. Dalton's, Waldenbooks, etc. When B&N came to town, they almost all went out of business within a year or two -- as did the smaller mall bookstores. So it really doesn't matter to me if B&N was particularly "predatory" or not, the end result is that they ran out the smaller bookstores. Hence, I don't feel that sorry for them if they refuse to compete with Amazon. And I don't really consider Amazon particularly "predatory" either -- they just want to sell their books.
I'm not saying bookstores didn't close in the wake of B&N's spread across the national marketplace with their superstores.

I'm simply saying that it was a confluence of market forces that caused it. I have never seen proof that there was a particular plan on B&N's part to run other booksellers, either in general or in specific, out of business.

B&N, at least back in the 90s when they made the nationwide leap, offered some things that consumers wanted:
  • A larger selection than most markets had seen before
  • Better pricing on bestsellers
  • Generally, stores that were well-staffed with knowledgeable and helpful booksellers

B&N has pretty much moved away from 2/3 of this and only maintains what discounting it does to stay competitive with the internet.

The end result, as you say, is fewer bookstores overall. But this was really the result of market and consumer choices.

Many indys adapted and continue to thrive.

Some got caught out for the mediocre business operators they were. I've encountered too many bookstore owners/shops who:
  • Confused their personal and business finances and got in deep trouble.
  • Had other "habits" that put their finances in trouble.
  • Were unhelpful or downright rude to customers.
  • Were horribly maintained/stocked/organized/merchandised.
  • Treated their employees terribly.
  • Refused to carry anything they "didn't like".
  • Bad mouthed (using quite colorful language) their competitors large & small in front of and to customers.

I've also seen quite talented and worthy bookstore owners adapt to the times and marketplace.

Heck, Dawn Treader books in Ann Arbor http://www.dawntreaderbooks.com/index.html is on the same block as the main Borders used to be. They competed with and outlasted that giant who, along with B&N, was often blamed for running small bookstores out of business.

The mega retailers and the internet changed the bookselling marketplace, no doubt. And the results have not always been good, especially if you liked things the way they were. But times change. Retailers either adapt or eventually fail.

B&N itself is suffering from this fact, as the heyday of the big box mall retailer is seeing its sunset with the rise of the internet. So, while I don't feel sorry for them, I don't think it's accurate to say they ran others out and are getting their comeuppance now.

What I miss more is a plethora of good used bookstores. Too many have gone out of business or closed up their storefronts and gone internet-only. The interwebs make it pretty easy to find whatever out-of-print or used book you want, and pretty cheaply unless it's a really rare collectible. But the thrill of trolling several used bookstores, hunting down what you are looking for has mostly gone away.

Last edited by RHWright; 07-24-2014 at 12:38 PM.
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