Recently went to my local Books A Million store and boy was it a bit eye-opening! Take a look and see why!
I know I disappeared for a bit. I had shoulder surgery in April. Then my home repairs took nearly a month to complete. But that’s in the past.
Today’s video is about Barnes and Noble and their attempt to dissuade shoppers from buying books there. You probably read that and thought it was a typo, but no! Watch and you’ll see.
Last week it was announced just about everywhere that BN would be releasing a new Nook device in collaboration with Lenovo. Main question: does it make any difference right now? Tell me what you think.
No, this obviously isn’t happening right now with virus cases, as expected, surging once again in most of the US and world. What happens in the next few months will give us all an idea of what to expect in 2021.
What I really want to talk about is bookstores. It was less than a decade ago that Borders closed its doors, mostly on account of e-books. Barnes and Noble and Books-A–Million (the two largest chains remaining in the US) have been struggling for years before the pandemic took customers out of stores. Half Price Books (my personal favorite) seems to be okay because if their doors are open, then they can buy books from the public.
Months ago I told my brother I thought JCPenney and Barnes and Noble would close for good. So far, I’ve been wrong. All the bookstores around me have been reopened since the spring. That doesn’t mean customers have returned or will be doing so. Though we can still buy online, there are lots of people unemployed or furloughed. Books may not be at the top of the list of needed items.
I’ve gotten this far and haven’t mentioned indies. They are probably the most likely to shut their doors during the pandemic. They can’t host author events and even when open, customers may not return.
Recently I was thinking to myself about Half Price Books not having their 20% storewide or coupon week promotions. If you’re familiar, then you know both of these promotions bring in lots of customers over several days. They’ve moved their sales to their website, which isn’t my preference. I was thinking to myself about the few dollars I could be saving if they’d had their promotions. But what’s important is that they’re able to survive (along with all the bookstores around). That won’t happen, but at least they’re still fighting, like many in the country.
To answer my own question, yes I think there will be bookstores next year. The real question is how many.
Serious question. I can name one person off the top of my head who I know buys books fairly regularly from Wal Mart. I’ve definitely done my share of browsing the books at Wal Mart, but my memory tells me I’ve never actually bought a book from there. I usually just look to see if I know which books they’ll have in stock without even thinking about it.
If I set up my tripod near the books and threw Harry’s invisibility cloak over the top of it I’d see just how few people actually stop to take a look at them. I own something like 250 books. But when I think of Wal Mart I think of groceries, essentials, and TVs.
I’ve bought books from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, Half Price Books, Murder by the Book in Houston, and the Wal Mart website. We have so many options at this point that I just don’t see any benefit for a grocery store to sell such a limited number of books. They sell mega bestselling new releases and ultra popular older ones. The problem is that just about anyone who’d be interested in buying these particular books has bought them elsewhere.
Also, Target does a MUCH better job with their books than Wal Mart does. Better titles and better selection in every store I’ve been in. But still, I haven’t bought from there either.
My question still stands. Why does Wal Mart sell books?
Have you ever walked into a bookstore, saw something, and thought, “They sell THAT here?”.I have, though after actually working in one for a year I’m not as impressed with these types of things. But now Barnes and Noble is really trying to change the game.
I’m sure during your college days either recently or long ago you at some point found your way into your university bookstore. I did, though I only bought my books from mine my first semester and then turned to rentals (which you should too!). The bookstore at my school mostly reminded me of CVS. Lots of snacks. Notebooks. School supplies. University apparel. Just basic stuff. And then overpriced textbooks.
But the company behind most college bookstores is adding a new twist. Makeup. LOTS of makeup. I mean, I’ve walked into a Sephora once. It was madness. Imagine a mini Sephora type section of your college bookstore. Imagine all the teens and twenty-somethings in there. To me beauty is what you want it to be. If it’s wearing makeup, then great. If it’s not, then great. But I just read a little bit about sales numbers for makeup in the last year. Yikes. That’s a lot of money. Can’t blame BN for trying to stay relevant on college campuses.
Next up we’ll offer haircuts right next to the fruit snacks
Makeup in college bookstores? What do you think?
As readers we are constantly bombarded with book recommendations. Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Goodreads. PEOPLE. That random guy in the bookstore who saw you glancing at that book on President Reagan. Book bloggers. The list never ends.
And now there’s a new player in the game. Shelfjoy. Which is so pointless it makes me laugh. Shelfjoy is absolutely no different than any other recommendation you’ve ever gotten. It recommends books based on topics you’ve already shown an interest in. Which is exactly what every other site or person does because obviously if you’re interested in a particular title, then you MUST be interested in what I think is “similar”.
They claim every book is hand-curated, but my understanding is it amounts to a bunch of lists on different topics. It isn’t creative. It isn’t groundbreaking. And it isn’t new. And it’s only available on Facebook Messenger, so there’s that. I think you can send them a message and they reply with a book for you to read. How grand.
I’m convinced every book recommendation is someone somewhere trying to infiltrate my brain. What do you think?
Barnes and Noble has made a pretty significant decision. They’ve decided to sell self published books in their stores. It’s quite the turnaround for the company. I know from personal experience. When I self published my book three years ago I went into my local BN store inquiring about the potential to sell my book there. They obviously said no. But now, hmm.
The shift in policy comes with some fairly hefty requirements. First, the book must be self published through Nook Press. Which is BN’s self publishing arm, but definitely not a favorite of any author I’ve interacted with because the Kindle and iBooks have all but killed the Nook. I’m not sure if they require exclusivity, but I can’t imagine it being beneficial to only sell your book on Nook. The Nook is dead. Plain and simple.
Second, the company requires the titles to sell a certain number of copies in either print or digital formats. It’s 500 for one format and 1000 for the other. If your book meets the sales requirements and has been published through Nook Press, then hooray! You could have your book on a shelf at a BN store. But remember that their shelf space is extremely limited and sought after. There’s no guarantee here.
What do you think of BN deciding to give some self published authors the opportunity to sell their books in their stores. I’m not particularly optimistic. I think the sales numbers are the absolute bottom, but I imagine an author having sell many more copies of their books to actually reach the shelf.
I recently walked inside my local Barnes and Noble for the first time in several years. And it simply isn’t the same as I remember it.
The shelves give off the impression that they don’t want to fill them. There are books faced out all over the place. There is space available on a good chunk of the shelves. And most titles had but one copy on the shelf, except for the BN Classics and Shakespeare.
Couple those things with their announcement to start serving alcohol in four new stores starting this year, and it isn’t so hard to believe the company’s financial troubles. Too many poor decisions are being made right now.
I suppose I could be overgeneralizing based on the one store I visited, but I imagine most BN stores are pretty similar.
Have you noticed anything different in your local store?
Barnes and Noble is set to start serving alcohol in four new concept stores this year. You KNOW I have thoughts on this news.
What do YOU think of this new development?