Posts Tagged With: booksellers

Is Barnes and Noble a Lost Cause?

I hope not, but after what went down last week that involved firing 1800 full-time employees, things don’t look good. Almost four years ago, I wrote about Barnes & Noble reinventing itself (which was a rewrite of a 2013 post).

Yet little has changed, and much has gotten worse.

Amazon is opening stores, indies have thrived, but Barnes and Noble continues to falter. It seems bound and determined to hold on to this sell-everything-do-everything model from yesteryear. Even Wal-Mart doesn’t do that anymore. Just closing stores and cutting people – without changing your model – doesn’t promote longevity. Just ask Sears and Kmart. Barnes and Noble should be doing this:

Focus on strengths. Narrow the focus back to basics. Be the local, neighborhood bookseller.

Not fire your most experienced people.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

AtS: Hitting the Shelves

First, on-the-shelf, bookstore sighting of Among the Shadows:

This was at indie bookseller, Leana’s Books. I thought I had something else in the picture, but I guess not: J. C. L. Faltot‘s new The Road to Mars is just visible at the extreme right.

To the first of many booksellers!

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated”

With the growth of e-books, the demise of Borders and the shrinking of Barnes & Noble, some thought the bookstore was on its way out. Personally, I disagreed with that sentiment: Anything that skyrockets so fast (e-books) can only come down, the big chains had over-saturated with too many (and too big) stores, and no matter how good on-line shopping becomes, one can still peruse far more books, faster, in person. Sure, I like the best of both worlds, and considering Amazon is opening brick and mortar stores, they get it too.

Lev Grossman wrote “The Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated” in the June 30th issue of Time on the growth of independent bookstores and their sales, at the same time big chains continue to contract. He mentions this revival of indies is in part due to “…new technology [that] makes things like accounting and inventory management easier for small stores. The growth of social media makes it easier to promote events. The demise of the Borders chain in 2011 had the effect, in some markets, of taking competitive pressure off indies.”

Another major part of this growth, I think, is that book buyers have always supported bookstores and the market has never shrunk quite as much as claimed. Borders didn’t simply fail because no one was buying books, they failed more from a poor business model. Barnes & Noble should survive — and I hope they do — if they continue to return to their roots. In other words, they need to be their neighborhood bookstore, not seen as just a big chain.

Authors aren’t overly concerned on how you read their book, on paper or on a screen, but we may have now reached a balance in the market of options. However, Grossman says it best when it comes to the old-school way:

… the paper book – a piece of information technology that has, after all, been tested and honed over the past 2,000 years – has declined to give way that easily.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Indie Bookstores “Rise Again”


According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of member independent bookstores has increased more than 20 percent since the depths of the recession, from 1,651 in 2009 to 2,094 in 2014. Meanwhile, Borders went bankrupt in 2011, and the fate of Barnes & Noble, which failed to make the Nook into a viable e-reader competitor with Amazon’s Kindle, appears murky. What happened?

Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

In other words, the Big Guys got too big too fast and tried to be too much to too many people. People want bookstores, not warehouses.


Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Return of the Local Bookshop?

I’ve seen many “Buy Local” type movements crop up in recent years, including Small Business Saturday this past weekend. The reasoning behind these events and campaigns is that strong local businesses form a foundation for a strong economy. They also know local markets better. Both of these statements are true.

It is also true that vibrant towns have a mix if employers: Local, regional and national. I don’t buy the “big companies are evil” mantra. They are a vital part of our economy. Nor does supporting local business mean blindly doing so. You can’t sell a product significantly higher than the Big Store down the road and expect people to just buy yours just for local sake. You still have to compete. Contrary to popular belief, Wal-Mart doesn’t have everything.

Having wrote all that, independent booksellers are making a comeback in some areas. In spite of the rise of ebooks, there is still a market for paper books. The collapse of Borders left a huge hole in many places for book lovers. Indie bookstores can order any book you want, but they also can supply what you have never seen before. Often local authors, indie presses and other books under the national radar. No matter how well-connected I am on-line with books, I’m constantly surprised by what I find browsing bookstores.

It’s the best of both worlds.

I spend a lot of time in Barnes & Noble and have been ordering from Amazon since before people realized it wasn’t a rainforest. Whenever I can find a small bookstore, however, I check it out and see if it warrants support. Or I spend time wishing someone would open one.

A local bookstore can be a focal point of your town. Seek them out and give them a visit. You never know what treasure you may find.

Categories: Books, What You Can Do, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: