Barnes & Noble: Will The Bookseller Survive?
Books have played an important role not only in spreading the idea of democracy but also in connecting us to new ideas to both our reality and fantasy experiences. Advances in technology seem to happen quicker and quicker with each passing day forcing change to what may or may not be a standard in today’s society. Not so long ago cell phones were new and the size of bricks. Only the elite were fortunate to have a cell phone. Today kids younger than ten have cell phones. Without the development of printing presses and books, the idea of democracy would be hard to imagine. With about eighteen thousand outlets selling books in the US, traditional bookstores and book sales are dominated by two large chains: Borders Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble (Bettina, 2012). These chains operate hundreds of stores each and account for about one quarter of all book sales. This paper aims to discuss the critical processes within the growth and survival of Barnes and Noble into the digital age. With the advancement of technology, businesses must adapt and evolve to survive or risk of being phased out, not intentionally but as a side effect to not offering things either quickly enough or efficient enough. The internet is a wonderful thing and what is even more wonderful is the ability to shop at home and never have to leave your house. One area of the retail store market which has seen much conflict is the book industry. However, shopping mall bookstores have boosted book sales since the late 1960s (Bettina, 2012). The idea was to adapt the large retail store concept, such as Home Depot or Walmart, to the book trade. A typical superstore now stocks up to 200,000 titles, compared with the 20,000 titles found in older mall stores (Bettina). As superstores expanded, they began to sell recorded music and feature coffee shops and live performances. Borders had grown from 14 superstores in 1991 to more than 508 superstores by 2012, but the company was losing money and began closing underperforming stores (Bettina, 2012). Barnes and Nobles was one of the few in better financial shape and one of or even the biggest retail book store in the country. It operated 720 superstores and 637 college bookstores (Bettina, 2012) when online books and e-books began pulling customers away especially when it became a major competitor with Amazon.com, one of the largest book sellers on the internet. Some of the changes made to adapt to an internet crazed community over the years include, establishing coffee houses next or in their book stores, the ability to publish their own books, opening up a site of their own, price slashing, increased customer service, member cards, providing a bright lit and comfortable atmosphere to browse and read, community involved reading programs, and increased variety of all types of reading material. Before Amazon came on to the scene in 1997, Barnes and Noble was a major power house in the book selling industry (Barnes, 2011). To become so, the company purchased one of its biggest rival companies, B. Dalton books, combining their customer base. B. Dalton at the time was a popular fixture in malls and shopping centers (Bettina, 2012). The acquisition easily made them the dominant retailer across the county and consequently pushed private book selling establishments out of business as well. The ability to publish their own literature and have in house editors has given the retail giant another edge. Even though they started publishing their own literature in the 1980’s, they continued to pursue this activity today. The early 1990s would be a time of remarkable growth and change for Barnes & Noble. Here they would revolutionize once again by opening up a series of superstores that each boasted a daily inventory of as many as one hundred fifty thousand titles. Common areas with coffee bars and children’s play spots were added to these giant stores in order to promote a...
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