Ok so everything I am reading, either on the DWB Daily or on MSN or even on MediaBistro indicates that Barnes and Nobles stores as a whole are failing…to me this is entirely disturbing, heck to anyone who enjoys a bookstore this is disturbing. And to add insult to injury stores will be closing over the next decade, not all of them mind you, but a good percentage of them. Um WHAT?!?!? That worries me, one of my favorite places to go on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is the bookstore, if not to browse, to just soak up the atmosphere. Have a coffee and just peruse the shelves. It’s a semi-quiet place to just go and be, if that makes sense? Yet within the last year our store in Mayfaire has transformed, the center area where there once was shelves of books and an information desk is now a central bar (going to borrow a term from the New York New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas) aka Center Bar of nothing but Nook, a semi raised platform where they do nothing but push their Nook tablet/eREader. This Center Bar is sometimes busy and sometimes it’s absolutely Dead. Off to the front of it on the outside is an area dedicated to Board Games – in a bookstore this makes ZERO Sense, and where their music/DVD area once was is now a kids toy department. There they are pushing everything from dolls for little girls to Legos for the boys with a Duplo block building center in the middle and a Thomas the Tank Engine table off to the side. Nevermind the journal/stationary area at the front of the store.
I don’t know if this is the case for all Barnes and Nobles stores, but it would seem that they have their identity confused – are they a book store, a toy store, a Nook store, or a Coffee Shop? I understand diversification, but this takes it to a whole new level – one doesn’t go to a bookstore to be innundated with a department store – no one goes to the mall for that very purpose. So maybe these renovations are in part to blame for the decline of profits to Barnes and Nobles? Or as some experts in the industry would have us believe it’s their lacking sales of the Nook device which is unable to compete with the Kindle, iPad and other eReaders on the market. Not having done any real reasearch into various models of eReaders I cannot speak on either side of this coin. I did have a chance to play with a very basic Nook at a Books a Million several weeks ago and can say it was very difficult to navigate and the touch screen did not want to work more often than it did want to work – it could be just the demo model they had set-up being over used. Or it can be that this device is just that difficult to use…my Mom’s Kindle was easier to navigate than the Nook. Though it can be said they are similar, they look alike, and function basically the same, but they are two very different devices. This is an analysis for a different day though…back to the topic at hand. Can it possibly be one device that is bringing a multi-billion dollar company to its knees…no I think it’s the instore changes, the way people are buying books and how more are going to towards eBooks vs. Traditional print books that is doing some of this in. One can only hope that eventually Barnes and Nobles finds a way to compete in this market…otherwise many a reader will be disappointed.
I am sure many don’t agree with my thoughts, but seriously I have a hard time talking myself into a Barnes and Nobles as of late, I just feel like they no longer want to be that place people can go to to browse for books and instead they want to be an Apple store, a Toys R Us (rather any other specialy toy store) and a Starbucks. Instead I find myself in Books a Million perusing their shelves, drinking their coffee and loitering around their Nook Kiosk (yes people it’s a table no more than 10 feet long and 3 feet wide…not the monstrosity that is Barnes & Nobles’ Center Bar)