Another thing that happened, when I was on vacation this month, was the resignation of William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. Leonard Riggio, who is the largest shareholder in the company, proposed to the board a buyout of the bookstores and website but without the Nook and the e-books business. I don’t know what has happened since then - I do own a color Nook but Mr. Riggio isn’t communicating with me although I’m in the phone book - but I’m ready and willing to offer advice for the future of his stores.
True, I’ve never owned, managed or worked in a bookstore. However, I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores, don’t want them to disappear, and I know what I like about them.
In the 80s and 90s, the big chain bookstores, of which B&N seem to be the last, wiped out many small independent stores, but today the American Booksellers Association says small bookstores are making a comeback. I’m all for that, but I want B&N to stay as well. So I’ve made a list of ideas Mr. Riggio should adopt.
To be honest, B&N is already doing some things right. They have unobtrusive music, cafes with Starbucks Coffee and snacks, and free WiFi to customers. It’s fine with me if they also sell Nooks and e-readers (but that’s up to Mr. Riggio) and also offer items such as periodicals and CDs related to books. But no toys or other things not directly related to reading.
What they don’t do yet and, should, in my opinion, is what Amazon cannot do because it doesn’t have a brick and mortar store. (Yet) That is, have authors’ book-signings regularly and advertise these events. (Perhaps there is an occasional book-signing in one of their stores, but it hasn’t happened in mine.)
Next, fill the store with books. And not just traditionally published books. I’d like to see an entire section of the store devoted to self-published books by local authors. They could allow an author to place 3-5 copies of a book for 90 days and if those sold, they could add more. If not, they’d be returned. Self-published authors should also be allowed to hold signings.
Finally, they need to add the scent of chocolate. I’ve just read a blog that revealed greater romance book sales when the smell of chocolate permeated the romance section of the store. Not only that, sales of mysteries increased with the odor of chocolate in the mystery section. I’m not sure about Science Fiction, but, at the very least, there ought to be aroma in the cook book area.
And, oh yes, stop fighting with Simon & Schuster about book placement. When you restrict S&S books, you’re only hurting authors. If you’ve learned nothing from Amazon, learn that making authors happy (the people without whom there would be no books) is one of the keys to success.
Barnes & Noble
Simon & Schuster