B&N & B-A-M

B&N & B-A-M

What happens in the brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) is going to affect us Kindleers.

Right now, the publishers are still more interested in what happens in the bookstores than what happens online, although that is going to change.

If (as?) the bookstores become less of a market factor, the power of Amazon (and other e-tailers) will grow in negotiations with publishers…or at least, with tradpubs (traditional publishers).

When you are looking at the bookstore chains that are still operating in the USA, you look first at Barnes & Noble, and then at Books-A-Million.

That made this

24/7 Wall St. article by Douglas A. McIntyre

interesting, especially its title: “Barnes & Noble Shares Outperform Amazon”.

Now, the share price doesn’t tell the whole story of a company…but it is one measure of performance.

This short excerpt may make you take notice:

“Since the start of 2014, Barnes & Noble’s shares have advanced over 50%, while Amazon’s have fallen 20%.”

However, we are really talking about different scales. Barnes & Nobles’ current share price is $23.86…Amazon’s is $339.04.

Still, that article makes the point that investors may really be pressuring Amazon to start making more profit, which could mean a raise in prices and/or more fights with suppliers to try to keep costs down.

When you look back over five years instead of just one year, Amazon is crushing B&N…but this recent trend is not insignificant.

As for Books-A-Million, its recent financials sent the stock down.

I think this

Seeking Alpha article by Josh Arnold

offers a thoughtful perspective and a good analysis (note: you will need to complete a free registration to read the entire article).

Bottom line: Arnold does not view this stock as a good investment, and sees a bleak future for the company.

I read quite a bit of news on bookstores, and my sense is that some smaller, independent stores with unique “personalities” are doing quite well. What I call the “dinostores” (the big stores where the main attraction is the size of the selection) aren’t.

I’ll give my advice again to bookstore owners: you have to make the experience such that your customers will willingly and knowingly (and cheerfully) pay more to buy a book at your store than they would at Amazon, because they want to support you.

People will support customer service, they will support expertise, they will support a pleasant and unusual experience while shopping…and they may support you because of your “story”.

You won’t beat Amazon on price or selection…and beat your expenses.

It’s pretty simple: if you can’t tell me why people will pay more to shop at your store than at Amazon, you are going to have a tough time making it. If you can, and you are right, your future is bright.

What do you think? Do you shop at the dinostores? Are there other stores that you do patronize? Are you wondering why I didn’t mention Half Price Books? Well, I can answer that…it’s a privately held company, so I don’t have comparable stock price information. 😉 Tell me about a store (not necessarily a bookstore) where you wanted to give them extra money over the price you knew you could get somewhere else…and why that was the case. You can share your thoughts with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


5 Responses to “B&N & B-A-M”

  1. Karen Says:

    Before buying a Kindle, I would visit a bookstore 2 – 3 times a week, and buy 5 or 6 books a week. Now, I may go once every couple of months, and just buy coffee. I go to see if missed anything while browsing in the Kindle store. I only buy physical books if I have no other choice. So, I probably buy 5 physical books a year. For me, there is nothing that a bookstore could offer me that would entice me to come back on a regular basis.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      Gee, I used to be in a bookstore up to seven days a week…of course, I was managing it. 😉

      As a customer, though, I would frequently go into bookstores. Now, I haven’t been in one for months. I haven’t been buying physical books for some time, except as gifts (and one out of print one). We like to give Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as a physical book for baby showers. 🙂

      • Karen Says:

        I used to work in a bookstore too for about 10 years (not a manager though). I was also a librarian for about 12 years. I am a Unix Systems Administrator now. This may be an awful thing to say, but I do not miss reading physical books.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Karen!

        It’s not an awful thing at all. The book is not the medium in which it appears: it is the words. I have to say, when I was reading paperbooks, I never felt guilty for not reading vellum scrolls. 😉 It is very much analogous.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Since I got my first kindle (KDX), I have gone cold turkey as far as B&M bookstores are concerned.

    However, recently a trip to Switzerland for the 125th anniversary of my high school prompted me to search for some detailed Swiss survey maps in anticipation of some planned map reading jaunts in NE Switzerland with classmates and teachers.

    I first looked on Amazon, and found nothing useful; then on a whim, I visited my local B&N store, and didn’t find much there either — although I did find (strangely) a European-published map of Switzerland which was helpful in planning another event: 4 countries in 4 hours (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein).

    I left the map reading stuff until I got to St Gallen — there I visited two bookstores: one quite small had no maps, but I did manage to pick up a slim German grammar (in German — I had gotten a couple of these on Amazon for my KF 8.9 in English, but the German one was much more concise and usable for me — also a lot cheaper).

    Across the walkway from the first store was a second bookstore — much bigger, on two levels, about the size of a medium B&N store in the US. They had a whole map section laid out as big tables with drawers underneath containing every kind of map imaginable. You could take a map out of the drawer and open it up on the table to see if it was what you wanted. I ended up buying 5 maps (at a cost of $120 :ouch :grin).

    The shopping experience in both the Swiss bookstores were miles ahead of any US store I’ve ever been in. They were unbelievably neat and clean with colorful well-designed displays of product — no coffee shop, no muzak, but chairs to sit — both stores were crowded — perhaps eBooks haven’t made it to Switzerland yet?

    One might ask why not use Google or Bing maps? One of the “walks” was about a mile and a half start to finish. Both Google and Bing said it would take 45-60 minutes to do. The maps on my laptop made it look like duck soup. What internet maps do a lousy job of is dealing with changes in elevation. That simple walk involved elevation changes of 300-500 meters — not exactly a walk in the park for our group of 60-80 year olds (:grin).

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