The Slow Death of Barnes&Noble

barnes and noble logo

Barnes & Noble recently laid off 1800 employees.

This is one more step along its slow demise along with other “big box” brands being cannibalized by Amazon and other online retailers.

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).

I’m conflicted by this news, because I have something of a love/hate relationship with B&N.

Let’s start with the bad points first

  • I don’t ever want to see people lose their jobs. Ever.
  • B&N handled this really poorly. Not unexpected from a large corporation, but still not right.
  • B&N becoming a victim of “efficiency” and “profitability” at the sake of no longer being an interesting place to drink coffee and peruse books. Ayn Rand ultra-capitalism in action.
  • One less place to purchase books in your neighborhood (eventually), and one less e-reader to foster competition in the online space

Now let’s focus on the “good” points

  • Barnes & Noble (and Borders) all but killed independent bookstores in the 1990’s. Their collapse will create a space for small business owners to rise up
  • The lack of any physical bookstore in an area may drive people back to their local library (we can hope).
  • With proper leadership, maybe Barnes & Noble can save itself and get back to selling books on a smaller scale (instead of toys and board games)

There are a few items I purchase regularly at my local B&N, mainly magazines, that Amazon doesn’t carry. Shocking, I know.

The problem is that Barnes & Noble has begun to reek of desperation, in all the wrong ways. Like other big retailers who had their predatory hay day in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and ignored digital sales ::cough, Gamestop, cough:: they are adopting wildly irritating tactics in an attempt to salvage their remaining customers.

I want to buy a book or magazine. I do not want to

  • sign up for your discount card
  • buy more things to “save money”
  • sign up for your marketing emails under the guise of “getting my receipt emailed to me”

These are all annoyances that make myself, and most customers I bet, just want to shop online even more. This latest move to eliminate their full-time employees aka “the knowledgeable people who will provide customer service” will only hurt their shoppers experience even further.

What do you think? Do you shop at Barnes & Noble? Will you sit on the sidelines, shopping at Amazon until you hear about the going-out-of-business sale to get cheap hardcovers?

I won’t mourn the death of Barnes & Noble specifically, but more what its collapse signifies.

Advertisements

Elements of Style

Following up on last week’s post about “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” I wanted to post up what I still consider the single most valuable craft book in my collection. Elements of Style by Strunk and White. The cheapest, most portable, and infinitely useful little book on “the rules of writing”. It’s also a centerpiece in my kit of writing essentials for under $20 I outlined in an earlier post.

If you don’t own this book (in print), fix that. It will make you better.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Just finished reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. This is a fantastic resource for any author who is struggling with editing their own work or looking for some new knowledge. Written by two professional editors who have been through many a slush pile, it contains excellent advice about the craft using examples that are clear and easy to follow.

The examples are the strongest asset, as they are in context of actual works, not just one-off sentences like many editing and grammar books use.

Highly suggested if you or someone you know is deep in revising that manuscript.

15 Most Anticipated Horror Books of 2018

2018-horror

credit: LitReactor

I wanted to post this excellent list of upcoming 2018 horror releases that I found over on LitReactor.

I liked this collection because it eschewed all mainstream stuff, and incorporated some lesser known authors, as well as a few Bizarro titles! You get everything from a Stephen King release all the way down to some obscure indie stuff. It’s a nice spread to add some chilling variety across the calendar year.

What do you think? Are any of these already on your “to read” list? I’m particularly excited about Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman, and Danger Slater’s He Digs a Hole. Slater is, in my opinion, one of the more talented authors to come out of the Bizarro scene.

The Mysterious Stranger

MYSTERIOUS-STRANGER-7

Claymation is scary sometimes.

That is my response to “The Mysterious Stranger”, a segment from 1985’s The Adventures of Mark Twain.

This clip weirded me out when I first saw it many years ago, and it still does. The premise is this: Mark Twain takes unsuspecting children to meet Satan in some in-between nether realm, and creepiness ensues.

Try to resist watching. I dare you.

Keep in mind, this passed as “edu-tainment” for kids back in the 80’s, along with that Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit that still occasionally gives me nightmares.

I think this weird gem speaks to the level of unshackled creative output (drug abuse?) from that decade. This would never pass focus-testing today, and be cast off into the bowels of YouTube. Rather than being celebrated…in the bowels of YouTube.