Author Topic: Barnes and Noble  (Read 1282 times)

dismalist

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2022, 02:43:31 PM »

Vet, vet? Hell, we do the vetting! If we don't like it, we don't buy it. End of story.

They may not teach this in business school any more, but typically you must buy the product (/book) before you can use (/read) it.

And you don't buy like products anymore from a moronic retailer.

 The marketing problem is called versioning, first formulated by an economist. In the book trade, it's been solved.

Amazon gives you samples of the product on line.

Borders let you sit in places thumbing through the books, including their own cafes.

B&N partnered with Starbucks for the cafes, and one could peruse there, too.

Maybe Borders went down the tubes on account they had inferior cafes.

Look, if there's a problem making profits, somebody will find a solution, and then another, and another, ... . :-)
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secundem_artem

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2022, 02:50:38 PM »
Anybody remember Borders? A palace for books!

We -- the customers, readers -- didn't like Borders' enough to let it survive. I'd always thought B&N a distant second.

We have met the enemy, and they is us.
                                              --Pogo

As I read heard the story, at the dawn of the internet age, Borders was trying to figure out how to move into e-commerce.  Some bright spark in the company recommended they turn their e-commerce sales over to Amazon.  The Borders folks were pleased as punch they had solved a notty business problem and at little cost to them.  Amazon left the same meeting room looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. 

Not sure if this is apocryphal but it sounds believable to me.
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dismalist

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2022, 03:13:27 PM »
Anybody remember Borders? A palace for books!

We -- the customers, readers -- didn't like Borders' enough to let it survive. I'd always thought B&N a distant second.

We have met the enemy, and they is us.
                                              --Pogo

As I read heard the story, at the dawn of the internet age, Borders was trying to figure out how to move into e-commerce.  Some bright spark in the company recommended they turn their e-commerce sales over to Amazon.  The Borders folks were pleased as punch they had solved a notty business problem and at little cost to them.  Amazon left the same meeting room looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. 

Not sure if this is apocryphal but it sounds believable to me.

That story describes only a part of the problem. https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/How-Amazon-factor-killed-retailers-like-6378619.php

Look, I wanna' run a railroad, not a bookstore, like silly Jeff Bezos! :-)

That's not even wrong!
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hmaria1609

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2022, 01:51:45 PM »
Yep, I'm another who remembers Borders.  It was a bummer to see them close.

Larimar

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2022, 05:27:11 AM »
I actually worked for Borders while I was in grad school. For a while it was a pretty good job for where I was in life, and the employee discount on books was very nice! Then the company started getting more corporatized and whittled away at the little employee perks that gave the store character and made us feel valued, like the monthly 'employee picks' shelf and getting to specialize in our favorite genres when it came to keeping the sections stocked and neat. Management never noticed morale slowly but steadily sinking. By the time I left, I'd gone from being in charge of the Fiction & Literature section to being vulnerable to having to wash dishes in the cafe. Despite this, I was still sad when they went under.

ergative

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2022, 07:57:36 AM »
Here's an encouraging discussion of Barnes and Noble, which apparently has been doing some good things since Daunt bought it.

larryc

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2023, 11:16:49 AM »
Here's an encouraging discussion of Barnes and Noble, which apparently has been doing some good things since Daunt bought it.

I was about to share that same link. Apparently a new CEO has stopped the slide at B&N by restoring the focus on books and giving local store employees more say over the inventory and displays at each store. They are even opening new locations.

Independent bookstores have been doing a lot better in recent years, we have at least four in my town. I have not been in a B&N in years, but I see that my town still has one. Perhaps I will check it out.

kaysixteen

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2023, 07:42:45 PM »
Sorry I have not yet gotten round to returning to this thread I started last week.  I am wondering exactly what level of social responsibility B&N execs (and, for that matter, proprietors of mom and pop indie bookstores) have to take reasonable steps to prevent obvious slop from hitting the shelves of their stores?  IOW, public librarians have a responsibility, which they ordinarily take very seriously, , to prevent inaccurate material from being purchased by the library and going onto their shelves with formal library call numbers assigned, etc. (I use this caveat because many PLs, such as the one here in Rusty City), have a shelf where the library stocks donated literature that they would never buy, and thus give official library sanction (essentially equals recommendation, promotion, vouching for the accuracy of the info therein, etc.), because most librarians will also not want to be exactly censoring such material, no matter how awful it may well be.

dismalist

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2023, 08:02:19 PM »
Sorry I have not yet gotten round to returning to this thread I started last week.  I am wondering exactly what level of social responsibility B&N execs (and, for that matter, proprietors of mom and pop indie bookstores) have to take reasonable steps to prevent obvious slop from hitting the shelves of their stores?  IOW, public librarians have a responsibility, which they ordinarily take very seriously, , to prevent inaccurate material from being purchased by the library and going onto their shelves with formal library call numbers assigned, etc. (I use this caveat because many PLs, such as the one here in Rusty City), have a shelf where the library stocks donated literature that they would never buy, and thus give official library sanction (essentially equals recommendation, promotion, vouching for the accuracy of the info therein, etc.), because most librarians will also not want to be exactly censoring such material, no matter how awful it may well be.
Quote
steps to prevent obvious slop from hitting the shelves of their stores

Slop obvious to whom?

No worries, the search for profits guarantees that slop will not be put onto the shelves of a particular local bookstore, for such would pollute the rest of the stock of books in the store, and drive away some customers!

That taste will vary from store to store, as the successful decentralization strategy at B&N shows.

People differ.

That's not even wrong!
--Wolfgang Pauli

kaysixteen

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2023, 08:20:50 PM »
I think you know what I am talking about, which has more or less nothing to do with 'taste', as in customer X prefers a BK whopper vs the expensive burger at an overpriced sit-down restaurant, but rather objective 'facts'.   B&N can and should, at least IMO, vet 'non-fiction' books it sells for facts, and refuse to sell 'slop' that peddles 'alternative facts' (one of the books I saw last week was in fact the memoirs of Kellyanne Conway, aka Madame Alternative Facts.

dismalist

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2023, 08:58:20 PM »
I think you know what I am talking about, which has more or less nothing to do with 'taste', as in customer X prefers a BK whopper vs the expensive burger at an overpriced sit-down restaurant, but rather objective 'facts'.   B&N can and should, at least IMO, vet 'non-fiction' books it sells for facts, and refuse to sell 'slop' that peddles 'alternative facts' (one of the books I saw last week was in fact the memoirs of Kellyanne Conway, aka Madame Alternative Facts.

Vet non-fiction books?

Hell, declare them fiction! :-)

As I said upthread, it's the customers that do the vetting.

That's not even wrong!
--Wolfgang Pauli

apl68

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2023, 08:22:46 AM »
Sorry I have not yet gotten round to returning to this thread I started last week.  I am wondering exactly what level of social responsibility B&N execs (and, for that matter, proprietors of mom and pop indie bookstores) have to take reasonable steps to prevent obvious slop from hitting the shelves of their stores?  IOW, public librarians have a responsibility, which they ordinarily take very seriously, , to prevent inaccurate material from being purchased by the library and going onto their shelves with formal library call numbers assigned, etc. (I use this caveat because many PLs, such as the one here in Rusty City), have a shelf where the library stocks donated literature that they would never buy, and thus give official library sanction (essentially equals recommendation, promotion, vouching for the accuracy of the info therein, etc.), because most librarians will also not want to be exactly censoring such material, no matter how awful it may well be.

Well...it's complicated.  We do try to make sure that we have the most authoritative available works on different topics.  We try, when providing reference assistance, to steer patrons in the direction of work by people who know what they're talking about.  That usually anymore means web sites, rather than books, since most patrons asking for reference want quick answers--they don't want to read a whole book on anything.  So, we point them to WebMD, say, not to the Herbalife sales site, or somebody who will sell them magic charms made of crystals.  Our staff members can tell plenty of stories about their efforts to keep patrons, especially older ones, from falling for various kinds of scams.

But, we're obligated to purchase what the public wants.  If people want books on alternative medicine, or crackpot political tracts they've heard about on Fox news, then we have to furnish them. 

I've been thinking about starting a new thread that would address these sorts of concerns in the library world.  Libraries are getting pulled into the culture wars--and there have been developments within the library profession itself that have made this more likely.
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AmLitHist

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2023, 08:29:51 AM »
The whole idea of vetting makes me uncomfortable. For what purpose would the material be vetted?  To keep people from reading untrue/objectionable ideas? And why is the bookseller's idea of what is true/untrue, acceptable/objectionable, something I as a customer should accept? Isn't the potential logical extension of that something like "don't say gay" or book banning? I don't think that's slippery-slope reasoning, necessarily.

Who gets to decide what I as an individual can read? I can decide what to spend (or not spend) my money (and time) on; that's not the job of a corporate or individual bookseller, and I'm loath to relinquish that power. Of course, I know that such vetting already exists in places like Christian bookstores, as an example; I exercise my choice by declining to shop there because they've made choices about what I should/not be able to read via the selections they offer.

I might well, in fact, buy the same books that a Christian bookstore offers, but I'll do so from more "open" or broad-based offerings at other retailers. I consciously and specifically patronize those stores who leave the choice of what I read up to me, rather than financing the places who believe it's their mission/job/business model to try to take those choices away from me.

Finally, it sort of seems like the entire idea of a bookstore refusing to sell "slop" (however that is defined) isn't really a meaningful step toward a more educated, informed citizenry in today's world. The current and growing availability of misinformation online (particularly via very effectively crafted and targeted social media), coupled with spotty critical reading and critical thinking skills among Americans as a whole, seem to me to take a lot of the wind out of the sails of the need for carefully curated bookstore offerings, and of books in general. If the past few years have taught us anything, I'd think it would be that an insistence on objective truth doesn't carry the weight with the masses that it used to (and still does for many of us).


apl68

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2023, 08:46:43 AM »
I understand what kay is talking about when he speaks of "vetting."  Bookstores have to have some kind of standards regarding quality and so forth.  So do libraries.  Neither type of institution has unlimited space or resources, so we have to pick and choose.  We pick what we will acquire, and we pick what we will make a special effort to promote.  If you want to have absolutely everything there is out there at your fingertips, no choosing or judgement, then go to Amazon.  And good luck finding exactly what you want in all those oceans of mess, if you're uncertain of exactly what that is.

Bookstores and libraries offer curated selections of what's available.  That's part of what we do.  It's an essential part of our service.  I take some exception to the singling out of particular types of bookstores for doing this, as if they're doing something wrong.  Every bookstore or library that any one of us here has ever visited has curated its offerings.  Some may simply be more specialized in their offerings, depending on what sort of community they're trying to serve.  All of them have to face decisions, not always easy ones, regarding what they will offer.  Most librarians, and I'm sure bookstore managers, have their ideas about what they'd like to offer the public, or think that the public needs.  And then they learn that the public often wants something very different. 

I understand kay's sense that the standards of what bookstores and libraries are prepared to offer have been declining in recent years.  But I think that speaks to broader cultural issues that neither bookstores nor libraries can "fix."
If any would follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
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paultuttle

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Re: Barnes and Noble
« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2023, 12:48:51 PM »
I understand what kay is talking about when he speaks of "vetting."  Bookstores have to have some kind of standards regarding quality and so forth.  So do libraries.  Neither type of institution has unlimited space or resources, so we have to pick and choose.  We pick what we will acquire, and we pick what we will make a special effort to promote.  If you want to have absolutely everything there is out there at your fingertips, no choosing or judgement, then go to Amazon.  And good luck finding exactly what you want in all those oceans of mess, if you're uncertain of exactly what that is.

Bookstores and libraries offer curated selections of what's available.  That's part of what we do.  It's an essential part of our service.  I take some exception to the singling out of particular types of bookstores for doing this, as if they're doing something wrong.  Every bookstore or library that any one of us here has ever visited has curated its offerings.  Some may simply be more specialized in their offerings, depending on what sort of community they're trying to serve.  All of them have to face decisions, not always easy ones, regarding what they will offer.  Most librarians, and I'm sure bookstore managers, have their ideas about what they'd like to offer the public, or think that the public needs.  And then they learn that the public often wants something very different. 

I understand kay's sense that the standards of what bookstores and libraries are prepared to offer have been declining in recent years.  But I think that speaks to broader cultural issues that neither bookstores nor libraries can "fix."

100% agree/on point/cogent analysis.