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B&N’s latest debacle – an update

I promised this the other day and got sidetracked. This is my first chance to get back to it.

By now, everyone’s read  or heard about the latest round of layoffs Barnes & Noble is instituting. Following the “how to slit your own business throat in one easy lesson” plan, it is laying off head cashiers, digital leads and others in their stores who are 1) full-time employees and 2) have the experience and knowledge that helps a store run smoothly. The company says it will save them tens of millions of dollars a year. Which it might, on a protected profit and loss sheet. What those projections don’t show are the number of customers and individual transactions that will be lost because customers can’t get help when needed, can’t get their questions answered and can’t find the books they want because they haven’t been unloaded from their boxes yet.

We’ve heard from BN about the layoffs. Let’s see what some of their employees have to say about it all:

And isn’t this part of everyone’s concern? The remaining employees have just seen a huge round of layoffs and wonder if they’re going to be next. Moreover, they don’t have the experience to do the jobs of those let go. Is it any wonder they are feeling worried and depressed about their work situation?

How? Just how do you let go that sort of experience in a store when you know the entire franchise is struggling? How do you do it across the franchise?

I am staggered at the number of people let go in just this one position. I would dearly love to see the list of ages. Could there be a possible age discrimination suit in the making against BN?

If true, that not only adds insult to injury, but it will help cement in everyone’s minds just how little BN cares about its employees or their families.

All I can say is everyone with any connection to BN, whether as an employee, retiree or an author using its self-publishing platform, needs to keep a close eye on what happens next. If it keeps acting like this, the company won’t be long for the world.

 

99 Comments
  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Nothing here to like. 😦

    February 17, 2018
    • I know and yet a part of me is sitting back and saying “I told you so”. I’ve been saying for years that BN needed to make some drastic changes in its corporate culture and business plan or it wouldn’t survive. They seem dedicated to proving me right.

      February 17, 2018
      • There are times it’s Hell to be right.

        February 18, 2018
  2. 😦

    February 17, 2018
  3. B&N – not only screwing over indy writers, now they’re screwing over their employees. Soon to be screwing over their customers. And when they screw over their shareholders, that will complete the hat-trick.

    February 17, 2018
    • Max #

      I don’t think this is going to screw over indie authors. If B&N (a big holdout against indies) goes belly-up, indie authors suddenly have a lot more power in the publishing world.

      February 17, 2018
      • Actually, in some ways they do. They’ve made it almost impossible to get indie books into the stores or to hold author events there. I gave up on them when their interface for uploading books failed more often than it worked. Shrug.

        February 17, 2018
        • Max #

          Oh no, I didn’t mean in the past sense. B&N has completely screwed indies in the past and, like publishers, tried to keep them out of things. But their going under will, in turn, be good for indies, I think, as one of the largest anti-indie presences will be gone.

          February 17, 2018
      • Perhaps they wouldn’t be in the parlous condition their condition is in, if they had been more welcoming to local indy authors, instead of routinely treating them as if they smelled bad.
        B&N were just f&*king impossible to deal with, from the beginnings of indy. Although there were some stores, in some regions, usually those blessed with a manager who could, you know, look at the book scene and figure out that indy authors with a local appeal might just be a draw for the store.
        Sigh. The trouble is that the other big-box outlets like Hastings and Borders, who were perfectly helpful and supportive about indy authors … well, where are they now?
        Independent book stores – mixed bag. Half-Price Books – again, a mixed bag.
        The chief of the regional author org that I belong to is working very hard, trying to make it easier for local indy authors and publishers to deal with big retail chains – in fact, getting them to change their means of dealing with publishers who are not any of the Big Five. We indies might get something out of it or not.
        At the very least, when B&N goes belly-up, the deals for books and shop furnishings will be awesome!

        February 17, 2018
        • Considering that I stopped going to B & N when I couldn’t find a single book that I would pay anything for, deals on those won’t attract me.

          I’m also in the process of trying to convert as much of the paper library to electrons as I possibly can (space, dust, etc.), so shelving won’t attract me.

          Now, if the big espresso machines were to go on the block… But I think those are a separate company, aren’t they?

          February 18, 2018
          • I also stopped, for similar reason. And they seem to be taking the same path I’ve seen smaller places try without success. “Let’s try to sell additional products that people can get elsewhere for less, while cutting back/out on any variety or local connection in our base product line.”

            February 18, 2018
    • I don’t know about B&N and indie, but this isn’t diddling their employees. It is cutting their own throats, but there’s no suicide hotline for companies. I’ve seen this before and it never ends well. It does raise the question of why the MBA types go for this sort of action.

      February 17, 2018
      • Harold Osler #

        Probably because they’ll make out OK no matter what. B & N paid out millions to upper level executives who had no interest in growing or even maintaining stores. They say this will free up millions in cash–which will then be used for bonuses for execs until they sell off whatever is left.

        February 18, 2018
      • Luke #

        Funding the golden parachute.

        And I’m pretty sure I’m being more accurate than cynical when I say that.

        Unless you have political connections, it’s really hard to get a really high paying job after you’ve destroyed a major company.

        February 19, 2018
    • Mike #

      Having spent a couple of hours in a B&N trying to find a book or two over Christmas, I can tell you that they are already screwing their customers. The only reason I was in a B&N in the first point was to get rid of a gift certificate. The maybe 2000 sq ft used book store I was in before, had a better selection of books, with almost as many as did the 40,000 sq ft B&N.

      February 17, 2018
    • From my perspective indie authors have multiple barriers to access*

      1. Covers. Sorry. But if you haven’t watched the Nick Cole / Anspach YouTube, you’re kidding yourself. If you’re trying to sell to the youth market you’re really screwed. I’ll try to help. I know “what works” but not always why.

      2. Librarians. Because not only the grandparents/parents will think you look “off” but the kids will reject you out of hand — their advocates in the library profession will pick up any kids nonfiction book from TradPub. See that bibliography? The Index. That’s *US*. Million $$ budget. No returns. We got the trad pub to do it, because we trashed them in reviews and wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t. But… We can’t influence you. Huzzah! (Seriously. I mean it). But it’s a market you need to master to your advantage. I’ll help if I can.

      3. Marketing/Reviews. Mass media is controlled by stalinist, anti-rational bigots. Wish I could do more to help. If you have any suggestions, I’ll oblige. I’m dead serious here.

      At another MG post I made a comment about the cover art. It wasn’t well received. This isn’t passive aggressive for y’all had a prog hissy (you’re better than that) but it didn’t work. I didn’t communicate what I needed to. My bad.

      But what I tell you three times is true: I want you to succeed. I want you to succeed. I want you to suceed.

      And I’ll help if I can.

      *I’m deeply embedded in progsville. I can speak comintern at the drop of a hat, need be.

      February 18, 2018
      • Hunting Guy #

        You nailed it on the covers.

        Having said that, I would also add that in my experience, bad covers generally mean that the book needs good story editing and has glaring grammar errors.

        February 18, 2018
        • Zsuzsa #

          I’ve become a fan of the lousy book covers blog. Whenever I see a book there whose title interests me, I’ll click on the link, read the Amazon blurb, and sometimes look inside.

          Alas, so far I’ve found that those lousy covers are an accurate indication of what’s in the book.

          February 18, 2018
          • g2-56799a4506744a20844ec1aba9f974c4 #

            Considering they featured the cover of AFGM, I’m going to take a baseball bat to this. The cover was picked by Baen, done by a professional artist, and I still think THAT book is possibly the best I’ve written.
            You might want to revise your thought. Perhaps you have the sort of mind that’s easily influenced by other people mocking something, even when they’re doing it for political reasons?

            February 19, 2018
            • That comment is from Sarah (as in Hoyt). WP is being weird and not posting under her name.

              February 19, 2018
            • Well…Baen IS known for having execrable covers. (This is not an excuse for it, but.)

              I cannot help but wonder where the hell they manage to find such awful artists and actually PAY them… 😀

              February 20, 2018
              • sarathered, that’s a pretty broad condemnation. Yes, Baen has had some bad covers but it has also had some remarkable ones.

                February 20, 2018
                • This is true, and I shouldn’t have been so broad-sweeping. 😀 It’s just that for a few years, that was all I seemed to hear in some circles.

                  And they seem to have really improved in recent years.

                  February 20, 2018
        • Not true. But I don’t want to torque off the MCG authors I enjoy any further.

          But I would be willing to help any one of them assess a cover design while it’s still tweak-able. I’d offer more, but I still need to learn vector graphics, and that software hurts my brain.

          February 19, 2018
          • You have a funny way of showing it. When you start off with “I don’t want to torque off…”, that’s like saying “I mean no disrespect but…”. I went back over your comments about covers and our responses. I saw nothing — NOTHING — that required this sort of put down for the bloggers here. Yes, I could have said nothing and I’ve sat on my response for a bit. But here’s the thing you have to understand — we aren’t rank amateurs. We know our challenges and we know where we need help. But we also do our homework. Your criticism of the cover of Light Magic was off-base when it comes to the genre it was signaling. Apparently you didn’t like the fact several of us pointed that out. What you have to understand is that we have to make sure our cover first and foremost signals genre. If it doesn’t, genre readers will not look at it.

            As B. Durbin points out, I check the genre I’m writing in and study covers to see what is working and what doesn’t. I am pretty damned sure Sarah and Cedar, who do cover design, do the same thing. So, did you torque us off with your earlier comments? No. But this sort of comment does torque at least this MGC blogger off.

            With regard to getting into libraries, sorry, but that is so far down most of our list of things to worry about that it doesn’t even show up on our lists. Why? Because we know what sort of budgets our local libraries operate under. We establish relationships with our local librarians in order to get our books in the stacks or, better yet, to have author events at the libraries. Having our books in the stacks without something to drive traffic to them really doesn’t help in the grand scheme of things. Also, we can get our books listed with services like Overdrive which allows libraries to offer our e-books.

            February 19, 2018
            • I didn’t have the time to properly reply to the OP to which you refer. 20/20 hindsight is of little use. “I don’t mean torque you off” was “Oh. What I meant convey seemed neutral – to – positive, but… I seem to have erred.” That’s all.

              Like sending in copyedits. But no matter. Mea culpa. Closed topic.

              February 21, 2018
        • Wow, Hunting Guy. Considering how many bad covers I see coming from trad published books, do you hold them to the same standard? Or are you only that snobbish about indie books?

          BTW, what constitutes a “bad cover”? What you feel is bad might be what another reader thinks is great.

          February 19, 2018
      • Y’know, for covers there’s a really good way to go, and that is to find a cover of a book that is selling well in your particular niche and *mimicking that*. Not subject matter, necessarily, but feel, right down to font similarities and title placement.

        And for those who don’t understand what feel is, I invite you to look at the cover for the last Wheel of Time book, a Michael Whelan pastiche of a Darrell K. Sweet cover. Darrell K. Sweet did the covers for all of the Wheel of Time series, but died before the last one was written. The style editors decided that it would be good to have one last cover in that style before redoing all the artwork in a different style, so that loyal fans of the series could have stylistically similar artwork.

        That damned thing breaks my brain. I absolutely adore Whelan’s style and have a rather passionate loathing for DKS’s style (I won’t go into why except to say that there are a lot of artistic sins—from all I’ve heard, the man himself was a lovely person, and you can’t argue with his work ethic.) I’m getting all the DKS signals from the color choice and situation, yet it’s rendered by an artist whose work I deeply respect. The cross-signals are an artifact of my personal preferences, but it tells you how important feel is.

        February 18, 2018
        • YES!!!!

          This! The DMs motto: Steal from the best.

          February 19, 2018
        • AesopFan #

          I got the same kind of disconnect reading the last volumes of WoT, conceived by Robert Jordan but written by Branden Sanderson. Kind of different, kind of the same, kind of nuanced.

          February 19, 2018
  4. They ain’t long for this world. And to think I once seriously considered buying a Nook. Glad I got a Fire instead. Next one will be my fifth. (Gifts for the grandkid, etc.)

    February 17, 2018
    • I know. I considered it as well at one point. I didn’t because even then, my non-Baen books were from Amazon. I’m really glad I didn’t make the change.

      February 17, 2018
    • SheSellsSeashells #

      I bought a Nook but gave up on them and pretty much all things B&N after the second time they redesigned their charger cables to fit the Hot New Model and quit manufacturing the ones thatt support the Boring Old Model. I’m not but SO stupid…

      February 18, 2018
  5. How not to save a business… Damn, you don’t get rid of your employees that are making you money. They might have “saved” 40 million, somehow I think they are going to be losing at least five times that. Then there’s going to be the employee turnover. Dollars to donuts the store hiring is going to be come a revolving door of epic proportions.

    February 17, 2018
    • Tprice #

      Since there are basically entry-level part time work or salaried store manager and not really anything in between now. Rumor i saw is the assistant store managers are worried they are on the block as the next group to go… So why stick around if there really is no chance of promotion or a full time steady job?

      Also their new financial year starts at the end of April and B&N has a couple of hundred leases up next FY. How many of those are going to be renewed and how many just closed is an interesting question isn’t it since the economy is rising so rents will be as well.

      February 17, 2018
  6. Joe in PNG #

    Did the Board of Directors receive a case study of how to go out of business, and mistook it as an actual business plan?

    February 17, 2018
    • tprice #

      Probably about that Circuit City chain they heard so much about and how it was fighting back against the evil Amazon… ‘They are still going strong right?’ says the board member who has people to do such pedestrian things as actually shopping in their stead. 😉

      February 17, 2018
    • Cervisia #

      The Board of Directors (and the CEO) obviously do not care about the long term. And that implies that they know that there is no long term.

      In other words, they see that bankruptcy is not far off.

      February 18, 2018
  7. CACS #

    I am part of a group that has been meeting weekly at one of the B&Ns in the county since it opened over twenty years ago.  This might explain a number of changes I noticed the last couple of times we gathered.

    No, it does not bode well.  Not at all.

    February 17, 2018
  8. That non-compete clause sounds illegal.

    February 17, 2018
    • I don’t think it’s technically illegal if they only make it a condition of receiving the severance payout. They would be owed their last paychecks regardless, but would not get the extra that everyone who signed the agreement did (I didn’t read the article, so I don’t know if that’s how it’s worded or not).

      Then again, depending on circumstances, non-compete clauses don’t necessarily hold up well a lot of the time, especially for lower-level employees, who wouldn’t really have much in the way of specialized skills.

      February 17, 2018
      • Yeah for low level employees, even up to store manager though… it seems suss. It could be easily interpreted as “You agree to never work in retail again.” I’m going by the quote from the blog though, so…

        February 17, 2018
        • Randy Wilde #

          I thought the no-compete clause sounded idiotic. What does it say, that people can’t work someplace that sells books?

          “Hey, you know Lisa who used to a cashier at B&N? I heard she’s at a grocery store now… what say we head over and see if they have any books!”

          February 17, 2018
          • I know of a case of a man who owned a computer business, sold it with a non-compete clause, and was then called on it over something just this inane.

            February 17, 2018
            • snelson134 #

              THIS. Non-compete clauses in my experience tend to get enforced depending on the competence of the fired, and the vindictiveness of the firer.

              February 18, 2018
          • There are some groceries that sell some books; the Coles I used to go to back in Townsville had a surprisingly varied (for a grocery) book selection; a few thrillers, romances, mysteries, biographies, books for YA and children (Harry Potter, (number) story treehouse; Minecraft stuff.) Cookbooks and magazines too.

            And that’s in Townsville.

            So yeah, the no-compete clause is retarded.

            February 19, 2018
        • Technically, any company that’s not going out of business doesn’t compete with B&N, so they should be fine.

          -j

          February 18, 2018
    • TRX #

      In the USA, it varies by state law.

      February 18, 2018
  9. Christopher M. Chupik #

    And Roc Books is folding, to boot.

    https://www.blackgate.com/2018/02/16/a-farewell-to-roc-books/

    February 17, 2018
    • NOOOOO! That’s Jim Butcher’s publisher! T_T I hope he goes to somewhere NOT Tor!

      February 17, 2018
      • According to the article, the ROC titles will be rolled over into Ace. We’ll see how that works.

        February 17, 2018
      • If you’re publishing Jim Butcher and you’re going under, you’ve done something wrong.

        February 17, 2018
        • sam57l0 #

          I would presume he’s seen the Dark Forces at TOR these last few years.

          February 17, 2018
        • Christopher M. Chupik #

          I would think he’s doing well. I just worry about, say, Taylor Anderson. I hope the Destroyermen series doesn’t get lost in limbo because of this.

          February 17, 2018
          • I also hope the Taylor Anderson and the Destroyermen series keep on going, though at some point there is enough cachet for an author to launch another series. The l;ocal B&N has an SF section, not smaller than it used to be. For paperbacks B&N and Roc also faced competition from the likes of Createspace…the order I made last week for author’s copies shipped yesterday, without the rumored delays.

            February 18, 2018
            • Brett Baker #

              Is yours like the one in Boardman, Ohio? Fair SFF selection, with a huge YA SFF section?

              February 18, 2018
  10. It’s pretty sad. When I was a kid B&N was the Platonic ideal of a bookstore; going to NYC, visiting the store, with multiple floors stocked with books, was a dream come true. Now, I’ve been on a B&N once in the past five years, and I didn’t buy anything.

    They never seemed to get the hang on how to compete with Amazon, and this latest move is worse than playing the band while the Titanic sings; more like shooting holes in the hull. Those “savings” are only going to accelerate the decay. Especially when every employee left must be quietly updating their resumes and hitting Monster.com instead of doing their work.

    February 17, 2018
    • TRX #

      Among their othe problems, they had lots of books… but they weren’t books anyone was burning to buy.

      Big tubs of remainders, the usual Top 40 titles everyone else stocked, mountains of cookbooks and travel books, and a random selection of stuff they probably got cheap.

      February 18, 2018
  11. Draven #

    There is a B&N here near the mall
    Haven’t been into it.

    Of course, technically, haven’t been into the mall, since it is open air… an open air mall in central VA, an area where we do actually get cold weather and freezing temperatures…. the developer needs to ask the architect for their money back. The mall was too cold to go to, two weeks before Christmas, including two points where there were several inches of snow on the ground, or ice left over from snow that melted and refroze…

    February 17, 2018
    • That wouldn’t have been built that way if the developer hadn’t asked the architect for such a design. They seem to be the new old thing here in Ohio – I haven’t seen a new enclosed mall in ages, but between Cincinnati and Dayton three such things have popped up in the last 15 years or so, at I-75 exits 19, 29, and 41. The outlet mall at exit 29 does have canopies over portions of the walkways between buildings.

      February 17, 2018
      • lfox328 #

        Enclosed malls are invaded (I use that word deliberately) by thugs who vandalize, steal, push around and fight with other customers, and intimidate other shoppers.
        I’ve known several malls to close due to those problems.

        February 18, 2018
        • adventuresfantastic #

          We had a shooting at our mall not too long ago. I’m sure the tattoo parlor among the empty storefronts had nothing to do with it.

          February 18, 2018
        • snelson134 #

          Especially when any attempt to enforce the law is met by cries of “raaaaacist!!!!” followed by lawsuits.

          February 19, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      The open air malls have pretty much completely taken over at this point. I think it’s been 15 years since they last built an indoor mall around here.

      WHY they have completely taken over is another story, especially in the colder areas of the country. In my area, one of the last malls built before the complete takeover of the open air mall was a hybrid: mostly indoors but with an extended outdoor section. Currently, the indoor section is thriving, despite being 15 years old, while half of the outdoor section has been torn down and the other half is empty storefronts. I’m not sure why it was that all of the other malls in the area looked at this and said, “Yep, I think we need to imitate the part that’s empty and falling down.”

      February 17, 2018
      • They used to call them shopping centers, and then after the mall craze started calling them strip malls. They tend to be cheaper for stores, and have a bit of advertising simply by having store fronts visible from the street and parking lots.

        Both need anchor businesses, a big name that’s a draw that gets the customers there. Besides maintenance costs and associated higher rent, most of the anchor business are companies that aren’t doing so hot. That was survivable when there were other big names ready to move into a vacated space, but such isn’t the case anymore. So what you end up with are a bunch of smaller stores without the big draw to bring in customers, and without a store front presence to attract customers who no longer come to the mall. Yes, you have that same problem with strip malls, but smaller businesses still have their visible store fronts, with lower rent to boot.

        February 17, 2018
        • TRX #

          Traditionally your anchors were Sears, J.C. Penny, Woolworth’s, Montgomery Ward, Dillard’s…

          The ones that are still alive are pretty sick.

          February 18, 2018
          • Joe in PNG #

            Ubergiant Florida retirement city “The Villages” has quite a few of these “outdoor malls”, called “town squares”, with each trying to look like an upscale downtown area.
            They seem to do fairly well, but it’s the perfect market- super dense populations of retirees in easy golf cart distance.

            February 18, 2018
        • I’m not sure about Draven and Zsuzsa’s examples, but the ones I’m thinking about aren’t really like a 50’s shopping center or the modern strip mall. Some seem to be trying to imitate a commercial district of a small city of the mid-20th century, with multiple buildings and storefronts in varying architectures. Others seem arranged more like an enclosed mall, but without the roof over the area in between the stores, such that things are split up into multiple buildings with wide walkways in between. Most of the parking is around the periphery even for the “city-like” ones, with many or even most stores “hidden” until you get to the walkway or internal roads.

          Here’s a link to one example, from a bit east of Dayton.

          https://www.google.com/maps/@39.6948249,-84.1035278,3a,75y,177.05h,96.43t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1smSz2t3IQory0oCJqYakgqA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

          February 18, 2018
          • Draven #

            this is the one i am referring to…

            https://www.google.com/maps/@37.6551484,-77.6169576,727m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

            You’ll get a better idea in satellite view. Front the outside, it looks sorta like a regular mall, with open entrances, but… you go in and discover there is no roof, and no AC, which when i was a teenager and in my early 20s was always a reason to go hang out at the mall and spend money.

            February 18, 2018
        • Draven #

          Nope, the store fronts are not visible from the street or parking lot. The only ‘fronts’ you see are the exterior fronts for the anchor stores.

          February 18, 2018
      • Draven #

        I dunno, its stupid, and one of the hybrid malls around here, they bulldozed the hybrid part and made it more outdoor stores. With that bulldozing also when their food court…

        February 18, 2018
        • Draven #

          *went*

          February 18, 2018
    • RCPete #

      One factor for outdoor malls versus enclosed in heavy snow country is maintenance. Snow removal can be an issue in a heavy year (alas, not this year), and the big expanse of an enclosed mall can be a gold-plated bastard to clear. I can’t remember if the old mall had a collapse before it was torn down (when your anchor is going toes up, you’re toast), but an old repurposed car dealership downtown was destroyed after a heavy snowstorm a few years back. Somebody neglected to have the snow removed. Long span trusses have their limitations…

      The strip centers that replaced the enclosed have had a mix of medium sized stores. Some turnover (Borders and Office Depot went out/under, with Joann and others replacing them.)
      These stores seem to be easier to repurpose than the stand-alone stores. As usual, we have much more retail space than tenants to fill them, but the clusters seem to be doing better than the solitaires.

      February 18, 2018
    • They built an open-air mall in Littleton, Colorado around the turn of the century. That wasn’t the surprising part. The surprising part is that the walkways aren’t even covered over. You’re completely exposed in between stores in the Denver-area winter.

      I have no idea why they thought *that* was a good idea. (They also have those silly “two-story” buildings that have no upper floor—not for offices or anything. Why?)

      February 18, 2018
      • RCPete #

        My rough guess is that the walls cover up the air handlers and heating/ventilation equipment.

        February 18, 2018
  12. We can backseat drive the gritty details of B&N circling the drain, but could any of us have done any better? Might as well dissect the failure of Blockbuster’s. NO management tricks would have saved B&N in the face of the tech pressures changing the face of the industry. This is like wondering why whalers went belly up in the face of the growing use of petroleum. ALL brick and mortar bookstores are dying, save those few odd rare/antique/collector boutiques. But, schadenfreude tastes good, and has few calories. 🙂

    February 18, 2018
  13. There are severl new large malls locally. They are outdoor malls with parking almost up to the door. If nothing else, security is much better. I do note that the local B&N is following the large local book store that closed. The quality of the SF section seems to have fallen markedly, though the fault for this may belong to the publishers. Apparently there is a large market for stories (to judge from the covers) about modern urban women waving broadswords and gifted with the superpower ‘immunity to frostbite of the navel”.

    February 18, 2018
  14. SheSellsSeashells #

    I have been unimpressed with B&N for some time, but I am eyeing the nearby one with avarice and anticipation so I can get my Christmas shopping done in one swell foop when it goes under. At my house, we call it “vulture shopping”.

    February 18, 2018
  15. Brett Baker #

    How will this affect their university bookstores? YSU is bragging about their new B&N bookstore.

    February 18, 2018
    • adventuresfantastic #

      I’m wondering that myself. B&N is the campus bookstore at the large university where I work.

      February 18, 2018
      • IIRC, the university bookstores are a separate entity from the main BN stores.

        February 19, 2018
        • I think that’s true, but there is still some connection. I’m just not sure how closely they are tied together.

          February 19, 2018
  16. blink #

    I’ve been reading about the layoff situation, and aside from personal sadness, I’m just not getting the ethical dilemma here. Barnes and Nobles is losing money. The only way to survive is cut expenses. If there’s no money to pay employees, employees don’t get paid. So, employees don’t get paid.

    Where’s the dilemma? Seems like an obvious solution.

    The personal stories also just don’t quite add up. ’84 years experience among 5 people.’ That’s 16 years for each person, as essentially a cashier? I get liking books, but a cashier in a bookstore, while perhaps more personally gratifying, is no different from a cashier in a Taco Bell. You really should have done something else with yourself after 3 years or so.

    The personal, emotional attachment to B&N is, frankly, falling flat. I grew up with Waldenbooks in the mall (and others grew up with indie bookstores). B&N justifiably drove them out of business (small and limited selection). I liked B&N because it was big-not because I established some kind of personal attachment to the cashiers (and even if I did: well, people move. I live nowhere near where I lived in college 30 years ago. If the cashier is still there, more power to him!). B&N seems to be going under due to Amazon. But that’s ok. There are other coffee shops in town, there is a tremendous supply of books on Amazon. And even with bookstores: there’s still Half Price Books and another one (Books a Million? Million Books? something like that).

    So, I get fearing change, and not wanting to leave the comfortable. But if its time to go, its time to go.

    anon

    February 20, 2018
    • No one is condemning them for wanting to cut costs. What I — and many others — have issues with is how they have chosen to do it. They aren’t just releasing employees. They are releasing full-time employees and thinking they can get the same work quality and loyalty — not to mention product knowledge — from part-timers. They do this without cutting the fat from their corporate offices. They do it while continuing to try to hang onto stores so large they are no longer cost-effective.

      As for you claiming the numbers don’t add up on years in service, you are wrong. These aren’t “just cashiers”. These were the supervisors. These were the digital leads and the supervisors in the backroom where deliveries were made. Believe it or not but there are folks who are happy in those roles and who work in them for years.

      As an author, Half-Price books is one of those good news bad news sort of things. Good news because our books might — MIGHT — be there for people to find and buy. However, we get nothing from those sales, at least not until someone goes out and buys a new book or e-book from us. As for Books-a-Million, they are few and far between, at least in my part of the country. In fact, I checked their store locator and there are 2 in a 100 mile radius of where I live. I would much prefer BN to stop trying to hold onto the past and take a very hard look at why they have been losing money (and it goes far beyond the change in the publishing landscape) and respond effectively to is.

      February 20, 2018
    • GWB #

      a cashier in a bookstore … is no different from a cashier in a Taco Bell
      Uh, no. At least not a good one.

      February 20, 2018
  17. Micha Elyi #

    Even the experienced B&N employees couldn’t tell me where the Men’s History section of the store was. There’s usually a Women’s Interests, Women’s Studies, and a Women’s History section in every B&N store.

    I haven’t bought anything at B&N for almost 20 years.

    February 20, 2018
  18. Rolf Hawkins #

    It’s Circuit City all over again.

    February 20, 2018
  19. GWB #

    A non-compete clause? Just who are they going to work for that is in competition to B&N? Will it prevent them from working in an Amazon warehouse? Or in the second-hand bookstore? (Neither one of which could rightly be considered the same as B&N.)

    I’d dearly love to see some brick&mortar competition to B&N. I love the feel of actual paper. I love picking up books to scan and read the blurbs. *sigh*

    February 20, 2018
  20. I worked for BN for almost six years and have been gone for about three, even then the writing was on the wall. Less space dedicated to books and no staff to keep the remaining books organized. I had many customer try to shop with us, only to leave frustrated because we didn’t have the book and to ship it would be over a week and at full retail. Don’t get me started on the amount floor space still dedicated to over-priced CD’s and DVD’s

    February 20, 2018
  21. I closed my bookstore after twenty odd years, and it wasn’t simply because of Amazon. A colleague of mine pointed out years ago that people have a much wider choice of how to use their leisure time these days. Video games, surfing the internet, watching DVDs, you name it.

    As far as B&N firing their best people: There used to be an on line board for B&N employees to compare notes and complain. One of the most common complaints was that the company didn’t want their people to actually read the books they sold; they wanted their people to spout the company line about the books it wanted to sell. Publishers pay for displaying and selling their books. The people B&N fired were the people who most likely read actual books and recommended books B&N was not being paid to sell. Plus, of course, they were also the people being paid the most per hour and had the biggest bennie packages.

    B&N has been circling the drain for years. Everyone in the business knew the stores had become nothing but show rooms for the Nook. Brouse a physical book, then download it. Len Riggio has been fighting hostile buy out offers for ages. B&N’s real estate holdings are worth more than the company itself, and he knows it. It’s why he built a “poison pill” clause into the company’s charter a few years back. But it’s a corpse that just doesn’t realize it’s dead.

    February 20, 2018

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