Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Books News

Barnes and Noble Bookstore Chain Put In Play 414

Posted by kdawson
from the more-clicks-less-bricks dept.
suraj.sun sends in word that the country's largest bookstore chain, Barnes and Noble, will put itself up for sale. "The news surprised analysts and alarmed publishers, who have watched as the book business has increasingly shifted to online retailers and e-book sales, leaving both chains and independent sellers struggling. ... For years, Barnes & Noble has been battered by large shifts in the publishing industry and the retail environment. Book sales have moved toward big-box stores like Costco, Wal-Mart and Target, and away from mall-based stores like B. Dalton, which Barnes & Noble acquired in the late 1980s. 'There's been a long series of pressures,' said David Schick, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore. 'The market has not been kind to bookstores, and it's for new reasons like competition with Apple and Amazon, and it's for old reasons, like what we believe has been a decline in reading for the last 20 years. Americans have devoted less of what we call media time to books.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Barnes and Noble Bookstore Chain Put In Play

Comments Filter:
  • Let me tell you... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brouski (827510) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:17AM (#33136220)

    I sure feel great about my Nook purchase this week.

    • Funny you mention it. I was considering the Nook too. Although it is nice that you can load Border's app to it from what I've read.
      • by jaymz666 (34050)

        have you been inside a borders lately? They look like they have been barely scraping by for years...

        • The Borders in my area seem to be doing rather well.
          • by ProppaT (557551)

            If you consider people coming in to drink coffee and read books and magazines in store without purchasing, they've been doing FANTASTIC!

            • by east coast (590680) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:22AM (#33136838)
              Sorry but you don't know this store, obviously. While there are a number of the coffee house crowd it normally does have a flow to the checkout line as well.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by clampolo (1159617)
                Maybe you are lucky to be in an area without moochers. I never even bother going to the Cafe at the local B&N's. Things are full of people doing their homework or reading magazines. It's getting so bad that now people are starting to camp out spots on the floor in less traveled areas to do their homework. I think there are a lot of paying customers like me that take their business elsewhere because there is never a seat. If they were more aggressive in chasing moochers out, their business would be
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jaymz666 (34050)

            really? They don't have big gaping holes in their floorplan from where all the DVDs and CDs used to be from their huge back collections?

            All of the Borders in my area stripped most of their DVDs and CDs out a few years ago, and haven't replaced the floorspace with anything else.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by east coast (590680)
              They have replaced most of that space. Yes. It's an active store with a BN located about 6 miles away.
            • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:36AM (#33136968)

              I've not been to a Borders in years, but I've never even got the point of the DVD/CD section in the local bookstores here (which in this area are typically B&N and Books-a-million). They rarely have stuff that other places like Best Buy don't, and the prices are ridiculous. Boxed sets that are $30 at a regular store will be $65 in Barnes and Noble. Sure, they'll sometimes run a sale, and they have those "membership" cards to give some discounts, but even after you factor in all that stuff you're still typically paying more.

              Reality check to them: you're never going to get by selling the same thing everybody else does for double the price because it's in a trendy setting. Bookstores excel in one area: having the books that aren't necessarily the latest teen craze. I'm not exactly going to find a copy of Dandelion Wine down at Wal-mart, but I can at B&N.

              Stock those hard to find books, and for goodness sakes sort them in same sane fashion(sorting by category can be confusing - sometimes science fiction novels end up in "Literature" instead of the "Science Fiction/Fantasy" section for example). Put in a terminal that allows customers to look up what books you have in stock and show what shelf it's located on.

              And if they really wanted to pull in some extra customers - run a free e-book special for purchases in the brick and mortar store. I can imagine a lot more people buying there if Barnes and Noble had a code included with the books sold in their store that allowed you a free e-book copy of the work for your Nook - only for books purchased in the physical store (and naturally using that "no value until activated at the register" scheme so that people couldn't copy the codes out of the books).

              • Local bookstores (Score:3, Informative)

                by wandazulu (265281)

                Those hard to find books are typically at the funky local book store you might find in the "arty" part of town, and while they're feeling it as much as B&N, they've responded the same way I think a lot of local record stores have, focusing on having those hard-to-find books as well as readings, events, etc.

                I stopped buying from B&N and similar stores years ago when they started stocking a bajillion copies of the latest tell-all of the celeb du jour, and relegated everything else to a couple of rows

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by interval1066 (668936)
                If they want to stay in the business of selling books they need to start selling the books I want in eBook format, which they often don't, and not charge a ridiculous $10 per title. I know it doesn't cost them that to produce the damn format . I usually either find the book I want in that format already for free or I go without. It can be any format; pdf, e-Ink, I don't care. I refuse now to do without the convenience of being able to carry my entire library in my pocket, being able to book mark electronica
                • On Site Publishing (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by sycodon (149926)

                  Another alternative is to print and bind books well as burn CDs on premises.

                  I go to a book store for two reasons, kill time while in a shopping center or because I need a book now, not two days from now.

                  Also:

                  * All manner of publications, even out of print, could be available with minimal wait time.
                  * Nothing would ever be out of stock.
                  * Theoretically, the books would cost less after equipment costs are amortized because of less shipping.
                  * Custom mix CDs would be a big hit, but the music industry would probab

              • by Psmylie (169236) * on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @10:52AM (#33137936) Homepage

                They don't even have to give e-book copies away for free. Allow me to purchase both the physical book and the e-book for, say, an additional $1 or $2 over the physical book's cover price, and I will be happy as a clam. Not only would I buy a Nook (which I don't have now) but I would also do all of my shopping at B&N rather than at Amazon, even doing in-store orders rather than ordering online for items not currently in stock. Non-B&N brick-and-mortar stores could ally up together to offer downloads for a similar pricing structure for books purchased in stores. Heck, the publishing industry in general should get behind it. It makes sense. Why in the world would I buy an e-book for very nearly the same cost as a hard copy, without some kind of added perk?

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by Chyeld (713439)

                  Sadly, the publishers, who set the price for the ebook, would either keel over as all the blood vessels in their head exploded or would nuke the store off the map in a fit of apoplectic rage. They want to pretend that e-books are worth just as much or more than a paper book, so attempting to roll a '2 fer 1' deal will never pass muster till they agree to open their eyes.

                  Look back on the past three years of news on things like Google Books and the Amazon vs Apple ebook wars, and tell me you think that'll be

                  • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                    by Sethumme (1313479)
                    Perhaps the publishers should have a deal for the e-books then. Include a free print-out of the e-book. Maybe bind it all together in a tough outer shell and slap an attractive design on the outside. Now there's a perk.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by Psmylie (169236) *

                    I agree, the publishing industry has been even slower than the music industry in adapting to the change brought about by the internet. They're traditionalists, but that's no longer an excuse. The internet has been a major part of our culture for at least 15 years, and what's killing there business is that they never embraced and adapted to what it can offer them.

                    No, basically, we have to wait for the old, slow dinosaurs to die off to make room for the new, fast mammals. It's just a pity. If they were willi

              • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @12:13PM (#33138906)

                Reality check to them: you're never going to get by selling the same thing everybody else does for double the price because it's in a trendy setting.

                Starbucks might disagree with you.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by HappyEngineer (888000)
                All those hard to find books are easy to find online at amazon.com and odds are good that they will be available used for a very low price plus shipping.

                Offline stores are good for only one thing: paging through a book before you buy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          The UK subsidiary went out of business in December last year - all the staff lost their jobs on Christmas Eve.
    • by chill (34294) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:36AM (#33136374) Journal

      Here's the link on how to crack the DRM on the ePubs that Barnes and Nobel delivers their eBooks in, if you buy one.

      http://i-u2665-cabbages.blogspot.com/2009/12/circumventing-barnes-noble-drm-for-epub.html [blogspot.com]

      • You're not kidding. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by crovira (10242)

        We're going to have to eschew DRM because there is no guaranteed survival for any content distributor.

        The shift to ebooks will accelerate, whether anybody likes to read them or not.

        The book and news publishing industry, a form of 1:N broad casting using paper as it's medium, is reaching the tipping point where the economic pressures on the content producers will make the old methods of production "not worth pursuing" because of the real devastation of the existing distribution channels by the internet.

    • by jockeys (753885) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:07AM (#33136678) Journal
      I'm in the same boat as you, but I bought the nook with no intention of ever buying ebooks from B&N so I'm not really too upset about it. There are many places to get ebooks. Also, if you haven't tried Calibre to manage your library, you owe it to yourself to try it out.
    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:18AM (#33136784)

      I sure feel great about my Nook purchase this week.

      I bought a nook for Christmas this year. Part of my thought process was how useful will the device be if the parent company goes out of business.

      The nook has wi-fi, so I don't need to rely on the 3G working. The nook has a user-replaceable battery. It reads open formats like PDF and ebup natively, so I don't need to rely on the B&N storefront to buy my books. The nook runs Android, and is relatively easy to jailbreak, so I don't have to rely on B&N for software updates.

      So, I figure that the nook is still going to be a handy device even if B&N goes out of business.

  • by ClaraBow (212734) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:23AM (#33136258)
    It is extremely hard for our kids to even have an opportunity to learn to love books! They are exposed to so many competing media at such an early age that books get relegated to schools as something they use. I teach and every year it gets harder and harder to get kids to read the simplest of texts. It is very sad as books offer a very personal relationship and intimate relationship with characters that no other medium can provide.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:39AM (#33136396)

      We have a PS3, an xbox 360 and a Wii, plus a PSP and an NDS. We have several hundred DVDs and blu-ray titles, plus on demand FiOS, several computers around the house and netflix. Our two kids spend more time in books than on all those combined. Don't blame the options available, blame the parents.

    • by DrSkwid (118965) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:41AM (#33136412) Homepage Journal

      If your parents read to you, more chance you'll grow up liking books & reading.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:09AM (#33136694)

        Also getting them books they enjoy. Something I see far too much, particularly from schools, is this emphasis on "classics." They want kids to read "good" literature and thus try to cram stuff they don't like at them. This very much leads to a books = boring kind of mentality. Let kids read what they want to read, even if you don't consider it to have literary value. I'm not saying don't offer them classic books, but if they don't want them leave it alone.

        For that matter, maybe what they are reading now will be classic some day. More than a couple of the "great" books we were made to read in school really weren't in my opinion. Wuthering Heights is basically a trash romance novel, it just happens to be an OLD trash romance novel and one that people latched on to as being "classic" for that reason.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sockatume (732728)

          Expecting someone to learn to love reading by starting at the classics, is like expecting someone to learn to love mathematics by starting at the Riemann zeta hypothesis.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by IICV (652597)

          Wuthering Heights is basically a trash romance novel, it just happens to be an OLD trash romance novel and one that people latched on to as being "classic" for that reason.

          Yeah, that's the problem a lot of classics have - Wuthering Heights was the first trash romance novel, and it defined the genre that we now think of as "trash romance novels".

          I'm not saying you should force kids to read things they don't want to - hell, I didn't start reading novels until I found the Belgariad in middle school, and that t

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @11:34AM (#33138442)

            It's not a matter of being "cliche" or "done before" or anything like that, it is a matter of being good or bad in my book. A novel can be the millionth of its type, but if it is a good novel then great.

            My objection are the "classics" that suck. They are not good stories. It just seems to be because they are old, who wrote them, and a bit of luck that they get labeled as some kind of great literature, where a modern novel will be passed over simply because it is new.

            When I was in high school, there was no sci fi at all on any of the reading lists unless you want to count 1984, which isn't really sci fi. This is not because there were no great sci fi novels, this was only back in the mid 90s, but because all the crusty academics that put together these lists can't consider anything made after their birth to be good to read.

            My objection to Wuthering Heights is that it is a crap romance story, not that it is a romance story. It is extremely poorly done. I don't care if it was the first trash romance novel, that doesn't make it any better.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          For that matter, maybe what they are reading now will be classic some day.

          A good read from cracked.com, 6 Great novels that were hated in their time [cracked.com]

  • A sad day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lostros (260405) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:27AM (#33136294)

    I know that i will certainly miss the ability to wander through a bookstore and pick up authors or titles I might not have otherwise. I love brick and mortor stores and I for one am not ready to see them go.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by muridae (966931)

      I know that i will certainly miss the ability to wander through a bookstore and pick up authors or titles I might not have otherwise.

      If by that you mean the limited selection that happens to be on the shelves. I love brick and mortar book stores, but the B&Ns in driving distance are horrible. If the book is not part of some reading club book of the month, or by an author that was featured on one of those lists, or it is not a major seller, they do not have it. The staff is always happy to order it for me and have it shipped directly to my house, but they can't look up a price on it to let me know how much that will cost. I know books

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:27AM (#33136298) Homepage Journal
    Last time I went into a B&N store I was looking for something to read on an intercontiental flight, I found something but a quick check on amazon.com(not even bothering to look for anything that may even be cheaper) they had about a 50% markup and thats not even including the sales tax(shipping from Amazon was free). Now I understand having to pay a couple of bucks more for the convenience of walking out of the store with the book, but 50% is just insane. Their online store isn't much better, 95+% of the time they are considerably more expensive than amazon. They aren't dying solely because of factors outside of their control, they are dying because they feel entitled to margins that the more successful players in the industry have known to be unreasonable for a long while.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:43AM (#33136430) Homepage

      They aren't dying solely because of factors outside of their control, they are dying because they feel entitled to margins that the more successful players in the industry have known to be unreasonable for a long while.

      Well, I think more accurately what happens is what you're describing is factors outside of their control.

      I don't think they need those margins because they feel 'entitled' to them, so much as Amazon has been able to rely on its sheet size to work on smaller margins. B&N is now simply being squeezed out so badly, they they can't compete.

      For them to sell at the same price as Amazon, they'd likely have to do it at an even greater loss -- which will squeeze them dry even faster.

      Amazon has truly been able to exploit Economies of scale [wikipedia.org], and B&N has not. With fewer people buying books overall, and Amazon being able to sell a much larger volume at a lower price, B&N has been squeezed from both ends.

      This isn't about entitlement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)

      If Borders in the UK were anything to go by, "entitled to margins" isn't really the problem. There's every possibility the structure of the entire business is such that they essentially have to charge that much or they'll be making a whacking loss.

      An example: Virtually every book these days has a barcode, right? The barcode identifies the book, you can either use an existing database or build your own as you acquire stock. You can then scan your stock as it comes in and again at the checkout as it sells

      • by khchung (462899) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:32AM (#33136928) Journal

        If Borders in the UK were anything to go by, "entitled to margins" isn't really the problem. There's every possibility the structure of the entire business is such that they essentially have to charge that much or they'll be making a whacking loss.

        Borders used their own specific barcode labels. Which means every book had to have a separate barcode label which they'd have to pay someone £X/hr to apply, [...]

        That's exactly what GP's "entitled to margins" means.

        If you are a sane manager, unless you think you are "entitled" to huge margins, you would be changing your business practices so your costs stay within your margin (which should be in line with your competitors')

        By keeping their business structured in the way to requires more margin that their competitors, and keeping the high margin on the prices, they are thinking they are "entitled" to such margins, and are in fact slowly killing the company.

    • by Manip (656104)
      That's just silly. Amazon's typical markup is approx. 10%, a brick and mortar like B&N has a typical markup of around 25%. But keep in mind these are markups on the price the suppliers charge to these companies. If Amazon for example sells 10K of this book, and B&N sell 5K then the initial price is higher. As soon as Amazon got ahead then it is likely to stay ahead and consumer pressure will only re-enforce that.

      You claim B&N charges 50% because they feel "entitled" but realistically Amazon
    • by bertoelcon (1557907) * <berto.el.conNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:02AM (#33136610)
      That would explain why the Half-Price Books around here are doing great. They are usually the same price as Amazon with a brick and mortar store.
    • by confused one (671304) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:03AM (#33136616)
      Amazon works out of a series of large, fairly automated warehouses. This allows them to keep their costs low. B&N, in comparison, has to maintain large storefronts on expensive retail real-estate, staffed by a crew of sales people, managers and maintenance staff. Based on my experience, B&N tends to maintain their stores at a level above that of their competition. B&N's real costs are considerably higher than Amazon's. That markup you speak of is, in part, a reflection of that.
    • by cappp (1822388) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:21AM (#33136818)
      That’s because B&N are competing with the likes of Amazon and Costco who can exploit their strengths and easily outcompete. Amazon doesn’t pay sales tax in large portions of the US, maintains a smaller inventory, doesn’t pay for stores, has a tiny staff, and offers a huge range of goods through which to earn money. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve been supported by investors for the who were willing to see consistent annual losses with the hope of eventual stellar profits. Costco stocks a tiny portion of available titles, specifically those targeted at mass the mass audience, and sidesteps the problem of placing anything with questionable star-potential on its shelves.

      A little digging [bookfinder.com] suggests that a book selling at its list price will give the retailer approximately 45% profit.

      Based on a list price of $27.95
      $3.55 - Pre-production - This amount covers editors, graphic designers, and the like
      $2.83 - Printing - Ink, glue, paper, etc
      $2.00 - Marketing - Book tour, NYT Book Review ad, printing and shipping galleys to journalists
      $2.80 - Wholesaler - The take of the middlemen who handle distribution for publishers
      $4.19 - Author Royalties - A bestseller like Grisham will net about 15% in royalties, lesser known authors get less. Also the author will be paying a slice of this pie piece to his agent, publicist, etc.
      This leaves $12.58, Money magazine calls this the profit margin for the retailer, however when was the last time you saw a bestselling novel sold at its cover price.

      Assuming the previous is correct, your local Barnes and Noble has to stretch that money to cover all those incidental costs of running a physical, specialist store – rent, local taxes, utilities, sales taxes, staffing costs, benefits, insurance, stocking cost, inventory and so on. Their prices are a real kick in the pocketbook but I don’t think they’re exactly swimming in profits either. Indeed, a quick look at their wikinvest page [wikinvest.com] reveals that

      company-wide operating margin fell from 2.8% to 1.3% in FY2010

      . My econ’ tends to be on the weak side, and correct me if I’m wrong, but that means they’re making a profit of approximately 1c on every dollar sold (couldn't find the figure for Amazon but it looks like Apple has an operating margin of 29.1% and Microsoft has 39%).

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:28AM (#33136304) Homepage

    Sorry but I stopped buying books at B&N for one reason... Obscene prices. sorry but $69.99 for a book on Python programming is robbery. When I can get the same book on Amazon.com for $29.95.

    Or how about the photography books ranging from $49.99 to $129.99 for an Ansel Adams coffee table book... Exact same books on Amazon.com for less than 1/4 the price.

    I'm sorry. But I buy almost nothing from them.... Except their clearance books, those are honest pricing. Everything else I buy elsewhere.

    • You are blaming the store for charging the MSRP - the _MANUFACTURER'S suggested retail price. While I agree that the price of some books are insane but that's hardly B&N's, or any other book store's fault.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't care if it's Jesus's suggested retail price. If it's less than half the cost somewhere else, it's moronic.

        Are you trying to say that stores are required to sell at MSRP? They aren't.

        • by Tim C (15259)

          No, they're not required to sell at the suggested price - but they are required to sell at a price that covers their costs and allows them to make a reasonable profit.

          Chances are their costs are simply higher than those of Amazon, and they're not able to make the same volumes to pull in the money they need based on higher volume and lower margins.

          None of which means you should pay more and buy from them of course; it just means that it's not moronic, it's simply a business model that's failing in the face o

      • MSRP is just what the manufacturer says someone might like to charge. In some industries, it is a guideline, but in most cases it is deliberately inflated to make stores look good. Pro audio gear loves this. You'll see MSRPs that are double, sometimes more, what you actually pay. It isn't because the store is taking a loss or whatever, it is because the manufacturer has a stupidly high MSRP on purpose to let the stores pretend to give people a great deal.

        Book MSRPs are additionally stupid because you'll not

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          MSRP is just what the manufacturer says someone might like to charge.

          Book stores actually buy their inventory up front, if my days in a book store aren't too hazy from the passage of time. So, a store with an inventory has a fairly big cost invested in the actual books. Someone like Amazon can buy them as they need them and exploit supply chain savings.

          So if Amazon can make a profit (and they do make a good profit) charging half of MSRP, then B&N charging full MSRP means they are ripping you off.

          No, i

      • by Pahroza (24427)

        Well then, whose fault is it? After all, it's only a "suggested" retail price.

        It's up to the bookstore to to get an appropriate contract with the manufacturer/distributor and ensure they're still capable of profitability. They should be working on selling as much product as possible, not raising the cost due to lack of volume.

      • by gorzek (647352)

        I'm sorry, but only idiots charge MSRP for anything in this day and age.

      • MSRP is *suggested*. It's pretty much always inflated. It's a meaningless joke and an often-cruel one, too, in nearly every industry.

        These days, charging MSRP for anything is almost always a way to drive away customers.

        So, yes, I blame bookstores if they're stupid enough to charge MSRP.

    • Yeah, I have to agree with you. The retail prices for new books in general are too high for me. I would love to buy more from Barnes and Nobles because I do like the store, but I just can't bring myself to pay the prices. It seems like my wife is always asking me to go to the used book chain Half Price Books (we have been to two different Half Price Books stores already the past seven days), but she almost never wants to go to B&N because of the prices. My miserliness usually wins out over my enthus

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by StripedCow (776465)

      sorry but $69.99 for a book on Python programming is robbery. When I can get the same book on Amazon.com for $29.95.

      ...which also is like robbery, considering that you can find most information on the internet.

    • Bleh, Amazon is the Wal-Mart of bookstores. Some of there low price comes from not having stores, but a lot of it comes from their size allowing them to push around publishers and authors. Cheap and convenient as it is, I have basically given up buying books, or anything else from them. Which reminds me, I should delete my wishlist over there...

  • Mom and Pop (Score:5, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:28AM (#33136306)
    And, with this shift, we will see the resurgence of the mom and pop bookstore that sells new and used books in a loving environment which was previously squeezed out by the mega chains. And I'm fine with that.

    Sadly, we'll also see the resurgence of those bookstores with five cats wandering around the store making the place smell like stale cat urine. I'm less fine with that...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by edremy (36408)
      Sorry, we won't. Amazon is killing B&N the same way it will kill M&P stores- selection and price. You can't compete on price with them for new books, and with affiliates Amazon can own the used book market too.

      They're amazingly efficient for used stuff- for his birthday my son wanted an old LIFE book, now out of print. I found a used copy on Amazon, in perfect condition, in about 5 minutes. $8 + shipping. There's no way I could do that with used book stores in the area- I can't even enter half

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Daetrin (576516)
        There's certainly a strong argument for Amazon having an adverse effect on mom & pop stores, but i'm not sure the used book market is that argument. Half the time i get used stuff from Amazon the purchase is actually routed to some small and presumably independent bookstore that i've never heard of before. Maybe you can't physically enter your local used book store because of dust and mold issues, but it's possible that they're selling a fair number of used books via Amazon.
      • Funny enough... (Score:5, Informative)

        by wandazulu (265281) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @10:50AM (#33137908)

        It's very possible that old LIFE book came from a mom-n-pop store that also sells online. I know a woman who has a small bookstore in upstate New York and she keeps the actual storefront open to give her a place to go (she's pushing 80), as a place for book readings, but also as warehouse; she sells most of her stuff via Amazon, with apparently one or two really rare things going on ebay.

        If anything, it was a brilliant move on Amazon's part to adopt this model; now lots of mom-n-pops can stay open and be more of a social place (if only for the cats) and still have give people the opportunity to browse.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:29AM (#33136312) Homepage

    Norman Spinrad has some interesting points [blogspot.com] about how the publishing and book sales businesses operate. They're like the music industry, only a lot worse in how they calculate the acceptable level of risk... even if an author has proved to be a fairly safe bet.

  • Sad Day for Print (Score:4, Interesting)

    by radicalpi (1407259) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:29AM (#33136316)
    I love reading, unfortunately I don't make enough time for it. I consider myself a very technical and electronic-savvy person. However, I have no intention of purchasing eBooks anytime in the future. There is something about owning a paperback and curling up with it as you flip through the pages. eBooks lack this personal touch. Browsing an online catalog doesn't compare to rummaging through the stacks and perusing a bookstore's inventory. It scares me greatly that we may, within my lifetime reach the point where we see the closure of the last brick and mortar bookstore.
  • Saw this coming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cereal Box (4286) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:30AM (#33136326)

    I remember seeing B&N devote a rather substantial amount of space to toys, games, etc. around a year or so ago, figured the writing was on the wall.

    • What you saw was always there, in the form of a kids "zone". They expanded it or you just noticed it for some reason.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cereal Box (4286)

        No, I'm referring to the expanded section for board games (they actually started selling popular Euro board games, very cool of them) and the GREATLY expanded kids area. Plus they seem to have added a bunch of other random shit I've never seen them selling before, like $90 Lego sets. This is all based on my local store, but still. They definitely have branched out from books substantially, and when a business starts moving away from their core that much, things aren't looking good.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:32AM (#33136352) Homepage Journal

    There is a large free standing B&N up the street from me and a similarly large Borders not far down the road. The B&N has a Starbucks which probably draws a good number of people to the B&N on its own.

    While book pricing isn't bad its not great. New releases usually can be found cheaper elsewhere and they lord over you the fact that you can buy into their membership with a low $25 fee to get books at better prices. This is where they lose me, I don't want to be badgered into being a member of their store, let alone pay for the privilege. Throw in the horrendous pricing in their DVD and CD section and suddenly I find myself comparing all prices or desiring to hit the net to see if I can find it cheaper. Membership "rewards" never come across as friendly, let alone one I have to pay for.

    While I do laud them for having an atmosphere that encourages spending time there, reading, sipping coffee, and etc, they need to work on their pricing and ditch this pay for membership to get a discount routine. Just ditch the requirement to get a discount on books entirely.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is a large free standing B&N up the street from me and a similarly large Borders not far down the road. The B&N has a Starbucks which probably draws a good number of people to the B&N on its own.

      While book pricing isn't bad its not great. New releases usually can be found cheaper elsewhere and they lord over you the fact that you can buy into their membership with a low $25 fee to get books at better prices. This is where they lose me, I don't want to be badgered into being a member of their store, let alone pay for the privilege. Throw in the horrendous pricing in their DVD and CD section and suddenly I find myself comparing all prices or desiring to hit the net to see if I can find it cheaper. Membership "rewards" never come across as friendly, let alone one I have to pay for.

      While I do laud them for having an atmosphere that encourages spending time there, reading, sipping coffee, and etc, they need to work on their pricing and ditch this pay for membership to get a discount routine. Just ditch the requirement to get a discount on books entirely.

      I can understand why they badger you into memberships. I have a good friend who had her hours cut severely (like from 35+ to way less than 15 per week), causing her to lose her health benefits (badly needed at that) because of a failure to meet an insanely high requirement for new and renewal of memberships.

      They badger you because their incomes and benefits hang on it.

    • This is where they lose me, I don't want to be badgered into being a member of their store, let alone pay for the privilege. Throw in the horrendous pricing in their DVD and CD section and suddenly I find myself comparing all prices or desiring to hit the net to see if I can find it cheaper. Membership "rewards" never come across as friendly, let alone one I have to pay for.

      My wife is a lead at our local B&N, so let me see if I can enlighten you a bit...

      Paying $25 for a B&N membership does make a lot of sense for some people. It's a 10% discount on everything bought there (including the coffee and ON TOP of the 30-40% discount on things like new hardcovers), so if you spend $251.00 in a year at B&N, you've made money back. Now most people WON'T spend $250.00 a year there, but there are people who regularly spend over $250.00 a MONTH in there, and not taking the card would be insane. My wife has been flabbergasted by customers who are making a $500.00 purchase and won't take the card (essentially getting paid $25 to take it) because "You don't have to pay for Borders' card!" Last I checked, Borders' card is a "Rewards Card" type deal that eventually gives you a gift certificate after so many dollars worth of purchases as opposed to a flat discount, so I can understand why you don't have to pay for it... Removing the $25 fee, though, would be functionally equivalent to reducing their income by 10%, which doesn't seem to be a smart move for a chain trying to stay in business...

      Secondly, the CD and DVD section isn't there to sell you the latest popular movies/albums (though they happily eat up the obscene profits from people buying them there). Why would you buy Avatar from them for $30 when it's available at Best Buy for $22 (Or the Wal-Mart double disc pack for $20)? What they do provide is an insanely large back-catalog of old/obscure films and audio. The kid at Best Buy looked at me cross-eyed when I asked him to order me "Hard Boiled" ("Order? You mean like online? And what's 'Hard Boiled'?"), while B&N offered for me to have it shipped to my house or brought in for in-store-pickup. Want that ten disc set of great violen concerts at Carnegie Hall? Good luck finding that Best Buy or Sam Goody, but you'd better believe B&N can get it for you. Looking for indie albums with very small releases? They can get it shipped to you from the store where that artists plays. Yes, plays, as in B&N music sections go out of their way to stock local artists and bring them in for signings and performances.

      So I completely understand why B&N's membership service and Music section are not for you, but believe me when I say that there ARE people who enjoy them very much.

  • What a pity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:35AM (#33136366)
    I have a soft spot in my heart for B&N ever since I dug up an old volume II of a four volume set of some first hand accounts of the U.S. Civil War. They were out of print, and I couldn't find them in any new or used book store I searched at. A few weeks later B&N had them show up on their web-page. Somehow they had gotten some in stock. Now whenever I'm book shopping, I try to pick B&N over their competitors now. I have to admit though, it's a LOT easier to just go to amazon and click on things than go looking for a brick and mortar book store. Also, consistent with the summary, I do spend less time reading than I used to. This is something I've recognized and am trying to change. Of course, I have a lot more money than I did when I was younger, so I can afford to buy things like hardbacks of new titles rather than paperbacks in the bargain bin so I bet I spend more money on books than I ever did.
  • by hal2814 (725639) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:53AM (#33136506)

    About 12 years ago Napster made downloading music easy. We had easy ways to take that downloaded music and integrate it with our existing habits via CD burners. Legal alternatives soon followed. Eventually record shops closed their doors. Not due to piracy but to due to uselessness. Now we have devices like MP3 players and iPods that let us enjoy our downloaded music in a more efficient manner than the old burn-to-CD method.

    Thanks to codecs like Divx, movies became downloadable in a semi-reasonable amount of time. Later technologies like Hulu made streaming possible. Rentals stores are taking a beating and stores specializing in selling movies and TV shows have all but disappeared. Originally like CDs, you had to burn your movies to DVDs to watch them on a TV but thanks to HDTV and to set-top boxes, there are more efficient ways to enjoy downloaded TV and movies.

    With books there was always a rub: There was no simple way to integrate them with out existing habits. You could print something but it would likely be on single-sided 8.5"x11" paper. You could read it off the screen but that's a lot less comfortable and convenient. With books, we had to wait for the more efficient device in order for electronic distribution to become feasible. I imagine we'll see a very rapid shift now that such devices exist and are becoming affordable. It'll be like the near-overnight industrialization that happens in nations these days compared to the slow, drawn-out process it was when Britain industrialized.

    Barnes and Noble is in trouble and they know it. It's a good time to sell.

  • by grumling (94709) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:01AM (#33136600) Homepage

    The bookstores wanted a lot of repeat business, so they pushed frequent buyer cards and book clubs (like Columbia House records in the '80s). Because they gave a "discount" price to frequent buyers, the publishers were free to jack up the price to keep margins high. When a casual buyer came in to get a book, it was priced at $16-20, which is just on the edge of an impulse buy. This was to push you into signing up for the frequent buyer club (which as others point out, wasn't free at B&N), even though you had no intention of using the card enough to make it pay. You may have bought that $20 book, but you weren't likely to go back either.

    As for WalMart and Target, well, they found a niche and filled it. Now the casual buyer has a place to get a book once in a while. The high end book addict will eventually head to e-books. Or maybe sooner than later. I basically haven't bought a book for years, but suddenly I have the Amazon Kindle app on my new phone, which I used to get 3 books on the first day without even giving it a second thought... that's slippery economics. The quality of the screen is just fine for reading, too (Samsung Galaxy-S). The hardcore reader will give up the "paper experience" when they realize they no longer have to trudge down to the store, stand in line, and all the other stuff to get books. And if Amazon keeps beating up the publishers on price for all books, not just the popular ones, we should see a resurgence of reading.

    And I don't buy the story that people don't read. They may not read novels, but given that the guest on The Daily Show is an author, and the first step in running for president of the US is to publish a book of some sort, there are readers out there.

  • by rla3rd (596810) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:07AM (#33136676)
    The one thing that I will surely miss is being able to leaf through a book before i decide to put down my hard earned cash for it.

    This is one thing that keeps me coming back to B&N when purchasing a book. Yes, there are time when I leaf through a book in the store, only then to note the title and then buy it cheaper through Amazon. But there are also times that I will use Amazon's reviews to narrow down my choices, then head out to B&N to leaf through the books before making my final decision, then purchasing it there on the spot.

    I end up doing the latter for more expensive books. I'd rather spend the extra money knowing that I'm going to like the book, then send my money to amazon to purchase a book that I may find horrendous.
  • by VShael (62735) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:09AM (#33136698) Journal

    a coffee shop (not Starbucks) where people can sit and browse online catalogues, google books, but mostly talk with other knowledgeable people about books. The communication face-to-face will be much faster (and more civil) than the online discussion forums that Amazon tries to run under each books page.

    People will be able to buy their ebooks there, but the place will also have one of those print-on-demand machines, for people who want to print off a hand held copy of a book. Either one bought from the store, or one they've prepared themselves via PDF on a memory stick.

    There won't be any physical books in the book stores of the future.

  • will kill traditional paper books for good and I won't miss them. Over the past 15 years or so, I have been reading very few books (maybe 1 book every 3-4 years). Since I got my iPad recently, I have already read 5. The convinience is simply killer. I am sure I can't be the only one.

  • I love books. I love reading. I'm also the first to admit that a lot of what I read is crap (Science Fiction and Fantasy) but the mileage varies. At last count, since acquiring my iPod touch (with the "Bookshelf" app), followed by and iPhone (with the "Kindle" app) and most recently the iPad (again with "Kindle" - I finally gave in for the larger format) I've read about 300 e-Books in the last 3 years. Yes, it felt a little weird for a while, particularly on the small screen devices, but that didn't t
  • by modi123 (750470) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:44AM (#33137062) Homepage Journal
    I remember seeing an article on CNN back in January about how Borders, *not* B&N, was the one to dive. Honestly I cheered. I *heart* the Green Machine over those Reds every day!

    Here's the closed internet search I could turn up in about ten minute for it:

    Cite [247wallst.com]

    Borders. Borders Group (NYSE:BGP) lost the online and brick-and-mortar bookstore war years ago to Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) and Amazon.com (NYSE:BGP). The company’s stock is down to $1.20 from a 52-week high of $4.48 and its market value is less than $80 million. For the quarter ending in October, the company’s loss from continuing operations was $39.0 million,or $0.65 per share, compared to a loss of $39.0 million, or $0.64 per share, a year ago. Revenue was $595.5 million, down $86.6 million, or 12.7%. Border’s large Waldenbooks division has all but disappeared. That part of Border’s operations is down to 361 stores. With its debt net of cash at $375 million, a competitor like Barnes & Noble could buy $2 billion in annual revenue for a fraction of sales and cut general and administrative costs to improve margins. Borders has been dead for over two years, but no one has been able to dispose of the body.

    FYI: green machine = Barnes and Nobel... Red = Borders... I realized not everyone may color associate like I do.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:48AM (#33137094)

    When I go to B&N it's full of people lounging in chairs/on the floor, reading books.

    While I understand that initially B&N's browser-friendly policy made it very popular, there's a difference between reading 3-4 pages of a book to see if it is a worthwhile purchase, and reading it from cover to cover - which is what a lot of people are very obviously doing. This means that 1) the person won't purchase the book - why should they? and 2) I would be purchasing a "used" book. While being read doesn't fade the letters, there's a difference between new and used in terms of wrinkled pages, smudges, etc. If I'm paying for new, I want new.

  • by MrBandersnatch (544818) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:54AM (#33137154)

    So I hit the nearest town looking for a specific book ("Dragonflies of Surrey" - yes the town was in Surrey) last weekend, heck I would have settled for ANYTHING decent on the subject matter I was looking for. 3 book stores (2 large chains, 1 small specialist store) and not a single book on dragonflies let alone the specific title I was looking for. And I hadnt really expected there to be to be honest.

    Now if publishers had actually grasped new technology by the horns and allowed bookstores to print (and bind) **on demand** titles, browse through their back-catalogue (which is several hundreds of times larger than any store could be reasonable anticipated to stock) etc. etc. then maybe we would be seeing a thriving book industry as book stores competed on the quality of their product (paper, binding, ink quality....smell) and facilities (user friendly search, cafe to sit down and browse in) rather than the almost absolute reliance that we now have on the internet to find any rare or unusual titles.

    The book store industry isnt dying, the publishers are slowly killing it.

  • by jDeepbeep (913892) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @10:59AM (#33138018)
    This isn't a loss in my world. B&N in my area had 7 aisles of "christian inspiration" where "religious studies" should have been, "judaica" consisted of 12 books (of which 4 were holocaust history) "current events" (read sarah palin and rush books) where "political science" should have been, half the store devoted to the bargain section, two rows of way way overpriced journals, the most mainstream programming books that appeal to entry-level, and annoying cashiers reminding me how much i could have saved if i had their loyalty card. My god, I don't remember the last time they were even useful for me. Amazon, otoh, has received maybe 60% of my book purchases in the past 2 years. What can I say besides they have what I'm looking for?
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @12:59PM (#33139480)
    This is not a sign that B&N is in trouble. This is about a fight between Leonard Riggio (the founder of B&N and holder of the largest number of shares) and another investor. Mr. Riggio is facing challenges to his control of the company from another investor who actually wants to buy a bunch of B&N stores for his own company (and is trying to buy enough shares to force the issue). I think it is likely that he will be successful in taking B&N private.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

Working...