Meanwhile, at the second largest USA bookstore chain…

Meanwhile, at the second largest USA bookstore chain…

Okay, yes, Amazon has opened one brick-and-mortar bookstore, and many indie bookstores are doing well, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that a bookstore means a chain bookstore.

They were quite dominant for a while…driven, in no small part, by Barnes & Noble (which is still the largest USA bookstore chain).

The second largest chain, Books-A-Million (AKA BAM!) just reported their financials.

How did they do?

Well, according to this

press release

revenue was down slightly for the past 39 weeks, and the loss (no profit) was bigger. The latter, I believe, is impacted by money they spent in trying to get acquired (not a done deal).

Terrance G. Finley, the CEO (Chief Executive Order), credits adult coloring books to some extent…but Amazon has those, too.

However, another element cited by Finley is something that I think really makes sense for brick-and-mortar bookstores to do (and I’m a former manager of one).

That’s personal appearances.

Sure, Amazon could do virtual things, but it isn’t the same as shaking hands with somebody.

In this case, it was a best-selling author, but also a celebrity: Finley credited multiple appearances by Dr. Ben Carson.

Barnes & Noble is pushing their non-book items this holiday season, in addition to their

Signed Editions by Acclaimed Authors

promotion on Black Friday, which I do think is really cool and was successful for them last year.


I do think it’s important that bookstores tie into local authors and celebrities. Barnes & Noble has always done that, and I assume Books-A-Million does. It’s just that I think that’s important for your customers’ perceptions of you.

I’ve said before, I do think that physical bookstores can succeed in the current (and upcoming) marketplace…you just have to be the kind of place where people are willing to spend more money because they want to support you. They need to like you and the shopping experience, and they need to want to support what they believe are your principles.

BAM! losing more money this year than last is a concern. Making a chain thrive, at this point, is actually more difficult than making an individual independent thrive…and that’s a reversal.

The chains needed those numbers and the similarity from store to store. You wanted to be able to walk into a B&N in any city, be able to find your way around, and have them have what you wanted.

Now, you can shop from Amazon from any city, and it feels familiar.

The indie, on the other hand, can get by on being unusual in what it carries and in how it is presented.

BAM! may get purchased. I don’t see them failing in the next year…and if something serious happens with B&N (which I think is more likely…at least for their physical locations), BAM! would pick up a lot of that business.

Barnes & Noble will do their latest financials webcast on December 3rd at 5:00 PM Eastern…right after the market closes.

Bonus story: big congratulations to my sibling, whose debut novel

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is one of approximately 6,000 books in Amazon’s only physical bookstore! We had a conversation about what that means, and I think it’s very significant. Amazon has a tiny fraction of the books on the website in the physical store…they need to be highly-rated, and/or award winning. One Murder More has 4.7 stars out of 5, with 63 customer reviews. I said to my sibling that that wasn’t enough, though. Having a high rating is like having a qualified resume for a job…if you get 500 resumes, 450 of them might be immediately rejected as unqualified. They still need to decide to hire you, though. 🙂

I also think Amazon doesn’t particularly care if people buy the books in the store…they can discover them there and buy them online (the price is the same), that’s fine with them.

I told my sibling I think the biggest advantage of this is the imprimatur of Amazon having chosen to put it in the store. I said (approximately), “I guarantee that representatives from other bookstores, including the chains, are watching very carefully which books Amazon puts in Amazon Books in Seattle.”

If you walk into Amazon’s physical store, you want them to have books discovered by their millions of customers. You want it to be something different from what your local bookstore has. The local bookstore has the wisdom of the buyer (who is probably the owner). Amazon Books has the wisdom of the crowd…that, at least, is going to be the perception.

We’ll see if this affects the sales. I recommended promoting the fact:  “One of the few books chosen to be in Amazon’s only physical bookstore”.

Whether it does or doesn’t, though, it still deserves a huzzah! 🙂 HUZZAH!

What do you think? Do you shop at BAM!? If so, why do you choose to go there instead of a B&N or a local independent? Do you go to bookstores because of author events? What’s your best story about seeing an author in a bookstore? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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.



3 Responses to “Meanwhile, at the second largest USA bookstore chain…”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    The closest Books a Million closed down long before Borders. I used to shop there a lot. Now, the building is an antiques mall.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I don’t think it’s been a general trend for them to be closing, but some locations have certainly closed.

  2. Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: Q2 financials…not looking good for NOOK books | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] the only remaining brick-and-mortar mass retailer of books…”) with which I would think Books-A-Million would disagree, I agree with most of what it […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: