The Future of Barnes & Noble

image of people in a bookstore

Barnes & Noble Sold

I just heard that Barnes & Noble was sold to Elliot, a venture capital firm that also owns the U.K. bookseller Waterstones.

I have had a tenuous, love/hate kind of relationship with B&N, and have blogged about it in the past. I’m not a fan of the way Barnes & Noble annihilated numerous other book retailers and mom&pop shops through the late 1990’s and 2K’s (similar to Blockbuster Video), but it’s nice to have an option besides Amazon if my local indie book seller can’t get what I want. Plus, I’m still one of those weirdos who reads “enthusiast magazines” and B&N is literally the only brick and mortar retailer I know who stocks a variety of those.

Venture capital firm purchases are almost always dicey, but at least B&N will still exist.

What I’d like to see happen

  • Get some personality: The pitch is a more “decentralized” model where the individual stores have a bit more autonomy. I think this is a great idea, and knowing some actual real-life B&N employees, I think its for the best. I have three Barnes & Noble in my general vicinity, and the one that does best allows its workers to inject personality and unique style into the space. It makes the place feel a bit more like a large indie book store, and feels inviting.
  • Re-focus on books: Get rid of the toys, games, Funko Pop figurines, and all that other junk, and add a wider selection of things to read! I’m still all for book-related gifts like Moleskines, bookmarks, and reading lights. That’s fine. But if I want vinyl I’ll go to a record store. Give me a horror and expanded literature section.
  • Kill the Nook: Just do it. Please. Put the thing into the landfill with all those copies of “E.T.” for the Atari.
  • Engage local reading and and writing communities: More local author readings, more book clubs, more big names stopping in on their book tours. All of it. Give readers a reason to drop by.

Better Than Nothing

I’m still a proponent of local independent bookstores over Barnes & Noble (support your local indie!) but it’s better than having no stores at all. Amazon is just the coldest experience possible. No tactile feel, no page whoosh, no book smell.

I guess we’ll see what the future holds for Barnes & Noble, and I hope it’s a turn for the better.

2 thoughts on “The Future of Barnes & Noble”

  1. How is it that I hadn’t heard this? I feel much the same way. It’s not like going to your local indie bookstore where everyone who works there is as into books as you are. But they can always get what I want, if they don’t have it, and they’re nice at my local B&N. A writer/reader friend of mine from out of state just had the most unpleasant rude experience at a very prominent indie bookstore in D.C. The one thing that a corporate store seems to do right is train people on friendliness! I think giving individual stores their own personality sounds right–and yes, more author visits and readings. A big store like that should be able to get big names. And, I’d never thought about the fact that there probably isn’t a Horror section, even in the biggest of retail bookstores. That seems like a travesty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like a pretty recent development. I heard about it on a writing podcast actually. Yeah, with independent shops you need to take the good with the bad, and I’ve always had decent service at B&N although after they had a round of layoffs there are far fewer employees maintaining the large stores. It will be interesting to see how it plays out of the next few years.

      Liked by 1 person

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