Monday, December 07, 2020

Some Thoughts on Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble's new boss tries to save the chain -- and traditional bookselling

 A couple things:

Barnes & Noble Inc. is abandoning the strategy that made it a bookselling behemoth two decades ago -- uniformity designed to create economies of scale and simplify the shopping experience. Instead, the company is empowering store managers to curate their shelves based on local tastes.

Good! Now instead of going to the store, not finding the book I'm looking for, ordering it from the person at the customer service desk...and then never hearing back; perhaps they'll be better able to help me in person.

In Mr. Daunt's view, the very survival of bookstores is on the line. "I don't think we have any God-given right to exist," he recently told a group of publishing-industry professionals. "How is it that bookstores do justify themselves in the age of Amazon? They do so by being places in which you discover books with an enjoyment, with a pleasure, with a serendipity that is simply impossible to replicate online."

Don't get me wrong, I really like my Nook, but the last couple of years I've tended towards more paper over digital. Not that anyone cares, but in 2011 and 2012 I read three times as many books on my Nook as I did paper books. 2013 through 2016 it was pretty much 50/50. Since 2017 I've gone back to reading two or three times as many paper books rather than digital. And yes, there is something special about spending some time browsing in a brick and mortar bookstore.