By now, most readers and writers have at least heard an inkling of the latest Barnes & Noble news announced yesterday:
While I find the news slightly curious, I am thrilled that someone feels so passionately about saving the B&N physical stores. Just last week, I walked through one, looking for a specific book. Of course, I could have gotten it on my Kindle (sorry B&N!), but in this case, I knew I would be meeting the author and I wanted his autograph. Inside, I was reminded why I love bookstores.
Barnes & Noble has certainly done a great job of trying to give the shopper more than books. Many have a Starbucks, wi-fi, a music department, and a kids’ toy/games department. Not quite the one-stop shopping of Walmart, but with a few groceries, it could be (just kidding). In spite of the non-book items, just walking through the aisles, picking up and thumbing through books, I felt a sense of calm contentment. The experience made me want to slow down. Of course, I had other errands to run but I stalled as long as possible, just wanting to spend a little more time looking.
It’s not just nostalgia. Bookstores do serve a purpose and many readers still love them. Apparently, in-store sales have the potential to hold their own, even in a world where e-readers and technology mean declining sales of physical books. The Barnes & Noble e-reader, the Nook, however, may be pushed aside. If Mr. Riggio does buy back the stores (excluding the college stores) and the website, what will become of the Nook business? It’s been reported that the Nook has been a money loser for some time. Amazon has long dominated the e-reader market and Apple’s share is growing. Although it still remains to be seen, it’s possible the Nook may be the ultimate casualty.
I hope Riggio can get the job done. I’d like to see Barnes & Noble survive and thrive for years to come along with online bookstores, independent bookstores, and libraries.
When was the last time you were in a bookstore?