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The 2016 Barnes and Noble Death Spiral

October 16, 2015 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Not Exactly Random  0 Comments

Barnes and Noble is closing their flagship Washington D.C. store in December.

Borders was the herald of the mega-bookstore apocalypse and everything after it is simply the end-game, including the inevitable B&N death spiral.

Borders and their other chain stores used to be the place you can go where you had local people buying and selling books of regional interest and popularity. At that one magical moment in time, they were just the right size with all the wonderful books. I could browse for hours and frequently spent $100 or more.

That gradually changed when the older bookworms were all fired because they cost too much and replaced by hippsters who would look at you funny if you asked for help. If you could find one to ask for help. Soon the store was stocked with books that didn’t mean anything to the people who used to shop there. Then they added DVDs just when digital distribution of movies started to take off (dudes, really?) and toys. Toys.

While the staff at the local B&N is actually friendly and bookish, Amazon remains a very reader-centric place to buy books. Barnes and Noble is not. They have a horrid frequent-buyer’s discount card that cost money and while they are less prone to the Borders centralized stock list, the B&N’s around here don’t stock and display their wears like the indie bookstores with their reader-centric focus on book clubs and regional best-sellers list.

And the problems with their customer service, especially with the Nook, is legion.

B&N can’t compete with Amazon’s “buy any book you can find and you can find anything.” They can’t compete with prices, and they can’t compete with the indie bookstores and their personalized customer service. It is just a matter of time, and if I was a landlord I would boot B&N out of my space as soon as their lease was up, too, because at some point they won’t be able to pay the rent.

It’s not just the landlords who need to plan ahead. If anybody has a business model that relies on B&N, now is the time to really start planning an exit strategy.

This is all very sad. And predictable.



June 27, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Not Exactly Random, The Craft  3 Comments

rtc_bordersWent to Borders because I felt like I was the only person who did not own his own copy of The Hunger Games. While I was there I bought The Forest of Hands and Teeth (I read the first chapter online and was floored) and a few other books I have been meaning to add to my library.

I have been avoiding Borders. The Redmond Town Center store had crammed spaces, yet still hanging to the corporate, soulless look. It also had the feel of the doomed. Massive space was dedicated to video and other crap that I can get cheaper and better selection at other places. Indeed, I was counting down the sad, sad days until I read the store or corporation had gone TU. Borders going TU will be a herald of the Apocalypse. Mark my words.FoHaT

If you’re going to cattle-chute me, give the damn store some character! Creaky hardwood floors. Pretty clerks with tattoos. Anything except the blood-drained look that sapped your buying will the moment you opened the door!

But since I was running errands in the area, I stopped by anyway.


They have been remodeling. They still have the weird over-stocked DVD/music section, but it seemed smaller. And the store was much easier to navigate, I felt less claustrophobic. And the YA book section was expanded greatly—it looked like they were still remodeling to expand it further. Their YA section was ginormous. Literally, it was the largest YA book section I have ever been in, anywhere. Books and books and books, many of them new authors. Books other stores were hiding because of their proactive nature were proudly on display.

And the manga section. WOW. Just, WOW.

And the people! It’s a sunny day here in the Seattle area. But that did not stop the multitude of people from buying books. One woman towing two children was clutching five books as if they were a life raft.

A pretty girl was in the YA section agonizing which hardcover to get. She was only allowed one. Her mother said so. Several times, despite the pleading.

The twhunger_gameso teen boys, clearly athletes, looking for science-fiction. They were so intent on finding that novel.

The little boy and girl jumping up and down as Daddy led them to the children section.

This is life with books.

This is capitalism at it’s best.

I spent $30 more than I planned. It was as if I was helpless.

I love books.

I love people reading books.

What a lovely, lovely Saturday!

The Redmond Town Center Borders got a literary boob job.