Barnes & Noble: Gone By New Year's?
SHARE with Friend
If anyone gives you a Barnes & Noble gift card, be sure to cash it in by the end of the year.
This may be the last year that Barnes & Noble bookstores remain open.
It's bad news for people who love books. It's worse news for the next generation of readers, who may never experience buying a book in a bookstore.
B&N has been closing about 20 stores per year since 2012 and has said it will continue to do so for the next several years. But its financial position is bleak.
This follows a decades-long period of expansion, moving into neighborhoods where privately-owned bookstores thrived, destroying those stores with cut-price best-sellers, and all but owning the book business.
Borders collapsed because of poor choices -- weak locations, an overemphasis on music, and, worst of all, selling off its online bookstore to Amazon for $20 million in the 1990s. Chump change, by today's standards.
So why is B&N on the ropes if it has virtually no competition today from chains or privately owned bookstores?
First, Amazon makes it so easy to buy books.
Second, publishers thrashed B&N by selling best-sellers at deep discounts in non-traditional outlets such as supermarkets, Wal-Mart and Costco, thus removing a key source of revenue for the chain.
Third, the woefully underfunded Nook is competing with Amazon's Kindle, which is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Fourth, the antiquated model of printing books on spec, putting them on trucks, and crossing your fingers that they'll sell doesn't work in the internet print-on-demand era.
And fifth, book buyers want decent customer service. At B&N these days, the only way to find a sales clerk is to attempt to shoplift.
The company that owns QVC nearly bought B&N a couple of years ago, presumably to sell low-cost jewelry and other tsotchkes in B&N's nationwide chain of stores.
That would have been hello collectible coins and bye-bye books.
Now, one of B&N's key investors has cut the level of its financial stake in the company. A wise move, alas.
In many B&N stores, it's actually hard to find books. You've got to wade through toys, umbrellas, Nook displays, chocolate bars, notebooks, birthday cards, and all kinds of other stuff that has stolen shelf space from books.
The publishers have to be running scared. If B&N suddenly shutters its doors, then billions of dollars of books, which the bookstores take on consignment, go into the limbo of bankruptcy court.
But the fate of B&N weighs most heavily on readers. Literary agent David Vigliano says that the disappearance of bookstores, and the move to buying books on Amazon, represents the death of browsing.
Serendipity -- the sweet surprise of happening upon an unexpected book -- is an experience that can happen only in a bookstore.
Yes, Amazon's algorithms can point you to books you may like, but there's no substitute for wandering the aisles of a bookstore, looking into a section you might never have visited before, and finding a new author or subject you had never considered.
That experience is on the verge of disappearing. Barnes & Noble killed privately owned bookstores, and Amazon and technology are killing B&N. It's downright Darwinian.
Can B&N hang on through the holidays? Most likely. But sad to say, once Black Friday gives way to the 12th day of Christmas, a once-proud book chain may well have reached its final chapter.
And that would be chapter 11, of the Bankruptcy Code.
About Michael Levin
New York Times best-selling author, "Shark Tank" contestant and "World's Greatest Writing Teacher" Michael Levin runs www.BooksAreMyBabies.com, the portal to the ultimate 200+ video channel on writing and getting published. Levin has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others; and one that became "Model Behavior," an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week.
- Of Henny Penny and Bookstores: Barnes & Noble CEO Responds (Thursday, May 15, 2014)
If you're in business - no matter what business - you know that having to listen to the odd Henny Penny is an occupational hazard. You remember Henny Penny, the children's storybook character
Print This Article
Placer County News HeadlinesPlacer County Republican Party To Hold 2014 ConventionLOOMIS - The Placer County Republican Party will hold its endorsement convention on Aug. 23 to select which candidates to support for local offices in Placer County.
Job Fair in Roseville August 22ndRoseville, CA -- Multiple community agencies including Brandman University, The City of Roseville Libraries, Placer, Sacramento and El Dorado Counties, Golden Sierra Job Training, and Sacramento Works
Roseville Crime Report Digest Update (7.23.14)The Roseville Police Department weekly crime report digest update for July 23, 2014.
California Limits Full Contact Football for StudentsGovernor Jerry Brown signed into law AB2127 which limits, but does not eliminate full contact football practices for middle and high school students.
Beware of Deceptive Home Improvement OffersThe California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging consumers to be aware of home improvement offers by individuals who use unethical business practices to gain entry into their homes
Continuous Improvement Network: August 6th & 20thSierra College CACT provides Value Stream Mapping Training in Sacramento on August 6 & 20 for the Continuous Improvement Network
Alternative Transportation Programs in Placer CountyPlacer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) is your resource for information about alternative transportation services in Placer County.
Auburn Woman Attacked Inside HomePlacer County sheriff's detectives are looking for a man who attacked a woman at her north Auburn home early this morning.
Western Nationals Softball Tournament in Roseville and LincolnASA Softball is bringing the Western Nationals for the Girls B 10U & 12U divisions to the Placer Valley Area. The event is six days long, taking place from July 28-August 3.
Tahoe Public Projects Garner AttentionTahoe Transportation District has been recognized nationally and by the state of Nevada for its positive impacts, collaborative initiatives, environmental enhancement, and service to the community's
Rocklin National Night Out Events August 5thEach community member is invited to join their neighborhood watch group and the Rocklin Police Department for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Recovery Plan for California Salmon and SteelheadNOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California's Central Valley