Barnes and Noble Circling the Drain

Well, this comes as little surprise:

On Monday morning, every single Barnes & Noble location – that’s 781 stores – told their full-time employees to pack up and leave. The eliminated positions were as follows: the head cashiers (those are the people responsible for handling the money), the receiving managers (the people responsible for bringing in product and making sure it goes where it should), the digital leads (the people responsible for solving Nook problems), the newsstand leads (the people responsible for distributing the magazines), and the bargain leads (the people responsible for keeping up the massive discount sections). A few of the larger stores were able to spare their head cashiers and their receiving managers, but not many.

Just about everyone lost between 3 and 7 employees. The unofficial numbers put the total around 1,800 people.


Go here to read the rest.  This is the type of decision that a chain makes just before it goes under.  A mass firing of experienced full time people, and attempting to replace them with cheap part timers, is never a long term solution, but rather an attempt to prop up the corporate bottom line just before a corporation heads to the La Brea tarpits.  I knew that the chain was not long for this world last year when it stopped having new books in separate sections in each subject category.  This, of course, ticked off customers who would have to search for the new books among the old books.  For Barnes and Noble this served two purposes:  force the customers to take another look at the old books in hopes they will buy them,  and disguise the fact that the number of new books they were getting in was dwindling.  This is the type of cutting off your nose to spite your face move that a business makes only in extremis.

The idiots at the top of Barnes and Noble have been making bad decisions for a very long time, including losing out to Amazon Kindle, disastrous marketing of their Nook e-reader, filling their stores with cheap junk to cater to non-book readers, selling overpriced food and drink, and the list could go on and on.  I confess to some sadness over this.  Memories of going to the big box bookstores, remember Borders, with my bride and kids are quite pleasant, but sentiment and business are two separate things.  This is an opportunity for small chains like Half-Price Books, and no market niche remains unfilled for long in a capitalist system.  Amazon is going in for the kill with brick and mortar stores and we will see how many Barnes and Noble store locations they acquire after the inevitable bankruptcy.



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  1. I gave up on B&N several months ago when they had a book with a vile word, formerly not spoken in polite society, prominently displayed. I complained in writing and person multiple times — keep your book, I said, but don’t display it where my grandchildren can see it. I got the brush off every time. Now they have 3 such books prominently displayed. Sheesh . . .

  2. For me, the nail in the coffin is the fact that they won’t price match Amazon, or even come close. Why would anyone pay full price for a book when it’s one-third off online and can be delivered to your doorstep in 48 hours? I understand paying a premium to support local jobs, but full MSRP is not realistic in comparison to Amazon.

    The overpriced food and drinks is another thing. A real opportunity there for legitimate coffee, but it never seemed like anything other than another Starbucks. In fact, I think they were Starbucks? Book nerds and coffee nerds alike are not attracted to Starbucks. Imagine if they allowed a local business to operate in that space.

    So many businesses are run out of Wall Street by people who have no clue what the customer actually wants. It’s one of the reasons most products stink these days.

  3. Just in time to pay them back for deciding to carry Amerika Magazine. Good riddance I say. Amazon is borderline satanic as well, given Bezos, but as you say, perhaps other retailers will arise to fill the gap. There must be a workable model for brick-and-mortar book sellers. Or am I delusional? Dunno.

  4. Hate to see it. Many fond memories with the kids in B&N. But then I have many fond memories of old Waldenbooks, and I can see where that went.

  5. I gave up on them back in December of 2006 when I spent six hours in one and didn’t find a single book I wanted to buy. If I’d been buying books prior to that it’d be one thing, but for the last several years before that I’d only had access to Amazon (infrequently) and the base exchange. I could fit one of every non-Bible book in the exchange into a seabag…..

  6. Though I live 70 miles from the nearest book store, I will miss a brick and mortar book store. Luckily our part of VA has a wonderful library system. A good library and a Catholic church were the deal breakers when we bought our farm; in walking distance from both.
    Even Fairfax County in northern VA is excellent though I did take issue with the Blade being on a low shelf where children could have access.

  7. I love Barnes and Noble. Wish this weren’t so.
    I wanted to get a new Nook as well. My old Tab 4 simply does not handle the web well, including TAC.

  8. Not only did they not price match Amazon, they didn’t even price match their own website. That made them lose sales to customers who otherwise would have supported them, and if you come in to get a book at the online price, there’s always the chance that you’ll buy something else while you’re there. In their defense, there is another book seller that undermined Barnes and Noble. I was in a local B&N with my grandson last week because he wanted a book for his birthday. The book was one in a series, and B&N only had it in hard cover. The reason it wasn’t in a more affordable paperback was because Scholastic won’t let them sell paperbacks. That’s Scholastic working against the customer, and I hope Scholastic pays for that. I would have gotten him several paperbacks but had to settle for just one hard cover. Lame.

  9. Oh boo-hoo. B&N destroyed the independent booksellers long before Amazon came along. Rough justice, to be sure, but justice nonetheless.

  10. The reason it wasn’t in a more affordable paperback was because Scholastic won’t let them sell paperbacks. That’s Scholastic working against the customer, and I hope Scholastic pays for that.

    Check the prices Scholastic asks for e-books. There was a bit of a to-do when one of their authors was hollering about how much piracy there was for her e-books…they cost more than the hard back. Um. That’s really not an “everybody does this” thing, that’s a “I charged my customers an arm and a leg, and then they didn’t feel bad about sharing it with a couple of friends a paperbook average price.”

    I suspect that the explanation of Scholastic not letting them sell it was a little false, but I’d bet that they wouldn’t give them the usual deal where they send paperbacks in, it sits there six weeks, then they rip the cover off and send that back for a full refund.

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