Barnes & Noble: Gone By New Year's?
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.
Pet Care | Real Estate | Restaurants | Tech | View All | * Add/Upgrade Business
Placer County News HeadlinesRoseville and Rocklin Men among those Caught in StingDuring a two-day sting operation last week (October 19-20, 2016) in Folsom (Sacramento County), investigators from CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) cited 35 people for various illegal contracting charges.
In Roseville: Creating an Ecosystem of EntrepreneurshipWhat do Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, Auburn, Foresthill, Loomis, Colfax, Kings Beach and Tahoe City all have in common?
Solutions sought in North Tahoe Affordable Housing CrisisKINGS BEACH, Calif. -- Placer County continues to work on ways to improve workforce housing in the North Lake Tahoe region.
Send Silence Packing hosted by Sierra CollegeRocklin, CA - Send Silence Packing is a nationally recognized traveling exhibition of 1,100 donated backpacks, representing the number of college students lost to suicide
Harvest Carnival for Deaf Children in RocklinROCKLIN, Calif., - William Jessup University's American Sign Language Program will host a free Harvest Carnival for all children learning or wanting to learn sign language
Over 500,000 Meals for Malnourished ChildrenROCKLIN - A local effort to pack meals for malnourished children around the world successfully packed 505,440 meals over a three-day period
2 Sporting Events Slated for RocklinRocklin, CA - William Jessup University (WJU) in Rocklin will host the 10th Annual Bill Holtz Warrior Classic on Nov. 4-5 and the Golden State Athletic Conference
Placer County Animal Services Center Now OpenAUBURN, Calif. -- Placer County's new Animal Services Center opened its doors to the public today in North Auburn. Now that all the animals have been relocated from their dated
Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation hires Executive Director(Olympic Valley, CA) - Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation (SVSMF) announces that Sandy Chio has joined the organization as Executive Director
Roseville Flash Police Report (10.24.16)Roseville, CA- Roseville police activity and summary report for the period covering October 12-21, 2016.
Subaru Outback features off-road capabilityRoseville, CA- It's considered a sport utility vehicle, but could easily be mistaken for a wagon. I'm guessing the folks at Subaru could care less how the 2017 Subaru Outback
Roseville Gas Price Competition Heats UpRoseville, CA- Gas prices in Roseville have eased slightly during the past week. Competition among the low price leaders has tightened
NEWS: In Case You Missed It