Author Topic: B&N, superhero?  (Read 878 times)

Hopscotch

B&N, superhero?
« on: April 16, 2022, 12:45:22 AM »
How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero
New York Times  April 15, 2022

…Today, virtually the entire publishing industry is rooting for Barnes & Noble — including most independent booksellers. Its unique role in the book ecosystem, where it helps readers discover new titles and publishers stay invested in physical stores, makes it an essential anchor in a world upended by online sales and a much larger player: Amazon….“There’s a real fear that without this book chain, the print business would be way off.”...despite the rise of other formats, the industry still relies on physical books — in 2021, they brought in 76 percent of publishers’ sales revenue, according to the Association of American Publishers. And more than half the physical books in the United States are sold by Amazon….

Buying a book you’re looking for online is easy. You search. You click. You buy. What’s lost in that process are the accidental finds, the book you pick up in a store because of its cover, a paperback you see on a stroll through the thriller section.

No one has quite figured out how to replicate that kind of incidental discovery online.…“The more Amazon’s market share grows, the less discovery there is overall and the less new voices are going to be heard.”...

With so many people stuck at home in 2020, a lot of people bought a lot of books. As the country has opened up, publishers have waited for sales to drop back down again to prepandemic levels. But so far, they haven’t….Right now, something else is behind all that buying.  “At the moment,...it’s being driven by an enthusiasm for reading.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/15/arts/barnes-noble-bookstores.html
 

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2022, 12:51:19 AM »
No one has quite figured out how to replicate that kind of incidental discovery online.…“The more Amazon’s market share grows, the less discovery there is overall and the less new voices are going to be heard.”...

Written by someone who's never used Amazon, obviously.

I find it easier to find a new book or author on Amazon than I ever did in a bookstore.
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Post-Crisis D

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2022, 02:42:00 AM »
No one has quite figured out how to replicate that kind of incidental discovery online.…“The more Amazon’s market share grows, the less discovery there is overall and the less new voices are going to be heard.”...

Written by someone who's never used Amazon, obviously.

I have used Amazon and I agree with that quote.  Amazon used to be my go-to for books and anything else.  Used to be.  It's become a big giant junk store and I only shop there now as a last resort.
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2022, 03:03:41 AM »
I have used Amazon and I agree with that quote.  Amazon used to be my go-to for books and anything else.  Used to be.  It's become a big giant junk store and I only shop there now as a last resort.

I still only use the also-bought and also-viewed sliders.

I ignore the ad sliders.

For other products, Amazon is more and more becoming my goto when my normal stores don't have what I want. I used to use ebay, but Amazon's delivery times within Australia are days, where ebay's are weeks to months.

I honestly don't know where the 'junk store' thing comes from.
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2022, 03:28:29 AM »
Not sure where you are all located, but here in the US, Amazon was becoming ubiquitous as the first stop for all shopping until a couple of years ago.

As much as we try to "buy local" the cost savings using Amazon were not small.

Quick lesson about the US Constitution. It contains something called the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution). Basically, only the Feds can charge national taxes or tariffs. States local municipalities can charge taxes within their boundaries. Our Supreme Court ruled states cannot impose taxes across state lines.

Until a couple of years ago, Amazon did not have a physical presence in many states, including where I live in CO. Everything we bought from Amazon came from out of state, and therefore, free of sales tax/VAT.

With several large cities facing bankruptcy resulting from the revenue loss of local sales taxes, Amazon faced legal battles. To avoid the embarrassment, they started charging sales taxes and, I believe, they now have a physical presence in all 50 states.

Consequently, for us, the 'Zon has reverted to the "only if I can't get it locally, quickly, at a close price" option.

Finally, a commentary on 'Zon's usefulness. If looking for something in their app, or on the WEB, if you don't chose the PRIME filter, you will see a lot of irrelevant and useless options. Choosing to list on the items available at the PRIME discount narrows the search focus significantly.

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2022, 04:47:00 AM »
I honestly don't know where the 'junk store' thing comes from.

As one example, often when you search for a product, you'll get the exact same item being sold by a dozen different sellers under a dozen different brand names but it's the exact same product.  And quite often those are junk.  And sometimes there are two or three or more different ones each being sold by several different sellers each with different brand names and, again, they are all the exact same thing.  And there's a lot you have to wade through to find a decent product that isn't utter junk.

The same thing happens on eBay but it seems to less of an extent because I frequently find it easier to find stuff on eBay than Amazon.

Sometimes, I'll use Amazon as a search engine, find a product and then go directly to the manufacturer of the product and buy direct.

In fact, aside from an eBook I purchased a couple weeks ago, I haven't bought anything on Amazon since 2020.


Quick lesson about the US Constitution. It contains something called the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution). Basically, only the Feds can charge national taxes or tariffs. States local municipalities can charge taxes within their boundaries. Our Supreme Court ruled states cannot impose taxes across state lines.

Until a couple of years ago, Amazon did not have a physical presence in many states, including where I live in CO. Everything we bought from Amazon came from out of state, and therefore, free of sales tax/VAT.

With several large cities facing bankruptcy resulting from the revenue loss of local sales taxes, Amazon faced legal battles. To avoid the embarrassment, they started charging sales taxes and, I believe, they now have a physical presence in all 50 states.

That changed with South Dakota v. Wayfair.  States can now require out of state sellers without a physical presence within the state to collect sales tax as long as the sellers meet a threshold of activity (dollar value and/or quantity of transactions) and the states do not discriminate against or place undue burdens on such commerce.
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2022, 05:25:54 AM »
...

That changed with South Dakota v. Wayfair.  States can now require out of state sellers without a physical presence within the state to collect sales tax as long as the sellers meet a threshold of activity (dollar value and/or quantity of transactions) and the states do not discriminate against or place undue burdens on such commerce.

I had forgotten about that ruling, 2018 (I think).  The writing was on the wall, 'Zon began charging sales tax before the ruling.

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LilyBLily

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2022, 06:52:24 AM »
Still way cheaper for me to buy online from someone than get in the car and drive a minimum of 15 miles one way to the nearest bookstore. Which sells a lot of distracting junk, too.

Edited to add: Nearest B&N to me is 50 miles away. Books-a-Million branches are 15 miles or 25 miles away in two opposite directions. I'm in the middle of nowhere and online shopping is practical. I buy from eBay, too.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2022, 07:14:21 AM by LilyBLily »
 

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2022, 09:40:52 AM »
How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero
New York Times  April 15, 2022

…Today, virtually the entire publishing industry is rooting for Barnes & Noble — including most independent booksellers. Its unique role in the book ecosystem, where it helps readers discover new titles and publishers stay invested in physical stores, makes it an essential anchor in a world upended by online sales and a much larger player: Amazon….“There’s a real fear that without this book chain, the print business would be way off.”...despite the rise of other formats, the industry still relies on physical books — in 2021, they brought in 76 percent of publishers’ sales revenue, according to the Association of American Publishers. And more than half the physical books in the United States are sold by Amazon….

Buying a book you’re looking for online is easy. You search. You click. You buy. What’s lost in that process are the accidental finds, the book you pick up in a store because of its cover, a paperback you see on a stroll through the thriller section.

No one has quite figured out how to replicate that kind of incidental discovery online.…“The more Amazon’s market share grows, the less discovery there is overall and the less new voices are going to be heard.”...

With so many people stuck at home in 2020, a lot of people bought a lot of books. As the country has opened up, publishers have waited for sales to drop back down again to prepandemic levels. But so far, they haven’t….Right now, something else is behind all that buying.  “At the moment,...it’s being driven by an enthusiasm for reading.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/15/arts/barnes-noble-bookstores.html

The problem with B&N, at least any store I've been in for the past decade, is that their selection is so ridiculously limited that they're really only carrying the big names and the books they're being paid to stick on the shelves. The world is so much bigger than any bookstore can stick in the shelves anymore. The last time I went in, just to look through the science fiction books, I was terribly disappointed by the tiny selection they offer. A lot of mainstream books, a lot of graphic novels, nothing that I'd actually want to pick up and read. I walked out empty-handed. I can get everything I want on Amazon and making new discoveries is simple, I don't have to rely on what B&N thinks I ought to want to read, I can find what I actually want to read.
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LilyBLily

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2022, 10:03:32 AM »
This. B&N skimps on genre books and I like to read genre, the more obscure the better. Easy to find on Amazon.
 
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2022, 11:04:26 AM »
...

That changed with South Dakota v. Wayfair.  States can now require out of state sellers without a physical presence within the state to collect sales tax as long as the sellers meet a threshold of activity (dollar value and/or quantity of transactions) and the states do not discriminate against or place undue burdens on such commerce.

I had forgotten about that ruling, 2018 (I think).  The writing was on the wall, 'Zon began charging sales tax before the ruling.

R.C.

About the same time the Australian government cracked down on multinational corporations avoiding paying GST, and Amazon started collecting GST here, so all book prices went up. The same happened in Europe with their various taxes. So it wasn't just a US thing. The world woke up to tax avoidance, and started applying the tax on where the buyer was, rather than where the seller was. Amazon just had to adapt.

The problem with B&N, at least any store I've been in for the past decade, is that their selection is so ridiculously limited that they're really only carrying the big names and the books they're being paid to stick on the shelves. The world is so much bigger than any bookstore can stick in the shelves anymore. The last time I went in, just to look through the science fiction books, I was terribly disappointed by the tiny selection they offer. A lot of mainstream books, a lot of graphic novels, nothing that I'd actually want to pick up and read. I walked out empty-handed. I can get everything I want on Amazon and making new discoveries is simple, I don't have to rely on what B&N thinks I ought to want to read, I can find what I actually want to read.

Same goes for every book store I've ever been in, or even book chain.

Until the advent of Amazon, I'd regularly go into the local bookstores, which kept disappearing over time as their chains folded, and scan the limited shelves of scifi and fantasy desperately looking for something to read. And usually finding nothing.

For a long time the only new books to turn up were the next Star Wars ones, and that's one reason I was so pissed off with Disney, because those books were damned important to me as the only thing keeping me reading for a long time.

Someone gave me  QBD voucher in 2019. I gave it to my mum a couple of weeks ago, because I'd never been able to find a book to buy from them with, even with them being online now. Every single book I might have wanted was out of stock or out of print. And yet the same books were on Amazon for 2 day delivery. My mum does still go into the book stores, and tends to buy the on special books, so she'll likely use the voucher before it expires at the end of this year. I wasn't going to be able to.

Bookstores here didn't stock even a quarter of the books available in the US. As soon as I discovered Kindle (belatedly in 2013) I found so much to read which was Trad published and never came here, and then tons more which was Indie. Now most of what I buy is Indie.

Just one trip to the US, I came back with a heap of the Star Wars books which were never released here. I found them by accident in a bookstore, not even knowing they existed, because the Australian books were printed here, and they changed the timeline in the front to exclude anything not being released here.

I gave up on bricks and mortar book stores years ago. They were always useless for a reader like me. And given my QBD search recently, still are.
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Cephus

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2022, 11:37:23 AM »

Until the advent of Amazon, I'd regularly go into the local bookstores, which kept disappearing over time as their chains folded, and scan the limited shelves of scifi and fantasy desperately looking for something to read. And usually finding nothing.

Recently, yes. Back in the olden pre-Internet days though, it was a different story because there just weren't that many books that came out. I used to go into Crown Books 3-4x a week to look over their shelves and I usually left with something new. There was a "local" (if you consider 90 miles away local) sci-fi and fantasy specialty bookstore called Change of Hobbit that I used to visit at least once or twice a month and come out with an armload. Today though, when there are thousands and thousands of books published every year, not to mention the 7k books published every single day on Amazon, there's no way anyone can conceivably keep up. It costs far too much for bookstores to keep their doors open as it is and they can only risk shelf space for the books most likely to sell quickly. If you're not looking for the most mainstream of the mainstream and the most recent of the books available, you're out of luck. You used to be able to walk into a bookstore and come out with an entire series of books. Now... you're out of luck.

Give me Amazon any day.
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writeway

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2022, 04:53:20 PM »
B&N is nowhere near a hero. Anyone who publishes direct with them can tell you that. Late payments, scammers stealing books and republishing them and B&N taking forever to take them down, customer service doesn't answer, they screw up your tax information even though it was correct all along and then you can't get in contact with anyone there to fix it. Books taking forever to publish lately and then when they finally publish, the cover can take days to show up. B&N has been horrible and full of issues since 2020. And their customer service has always been terrible, which is why so many authors choose to use D2D. Did someone from B&N write this article?  :shocked: Please. Ain't nobody rooting for B&N! They treat authors like dog crap too. And don't forget they always looked at indies as second-class citizens and still do.

From a reader perspective, I don't miss physical stores at all. I love the convenience of being able to search for books from the comfort of my home (in my nightgown and flip-flops) and it's much easier and faster to find what I want. The article is wrong saying you miss out on browsing. Really? And people don't browse on Amazon????? It's much easier browing on Amazon than it ever was in a physical store. It takes me a few seconds to type out the kind of books I want and I just scroll through endless pages of books that fit what I want. Most times a bookstore didn't even have the books I wanted and when they did they had a few copies and that was it.

Oh, the more I read this the laughable it becomes! They said that Amazon makes it harder for new voices? And B&N helps NEW VOICES?  :roll: Really? Isn't B&N the same company that only highlighted books from mega authors and let the trade pubs control everything in their stores from what was on the display tables to cutting deals with B&N so competitors of other pubs couldn't do book signings during certain times? Remember, I worked in trade so I know how close B&N and big pubs were. You could almost say the big pubs OWNED B&N because the company was definitely in the big pubs' pockets and the pubs controlled everything in those stores. NYT should be ashamed printing this junk. I'm sure B&N put them up to this article.

Amazon (for all its faults) is the reason why so many people can publish now. Amazon made that possible so when it comes to "new voices" there has been no platform bigger and more  encouraging to newbies than Amazon. B&N has always been stuck up the trade pubs' butts. This article is ridiculous. It's one thing to be bias but a lot of this is BS.

Yeah a lot of folks bought books in 2020... mostly on AMAZON.

And who said the entire publishing industry is rooting for B&N? At this point I don't care if B&N finally closed up shop with all the trouble they are causing these days and low sales.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2022, 04:59:22 PM by writeway »
 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2022, 05:45:45 PM »
...Late payments, scammers stealing books and republishing them and B&N taking forever to take them down, customer service doesn't answer, they screw up your tax information even though it was correct all along and then you can't get in contact with anyone there to fix it. Books taking forever to publish lately and then when they finally publish, the cover can take days to show up...


The stuff you mentioned is why I'm not direct with B&N.  I use D2D instead.  Then if something gets screwed up, I can just fire off an email to D2D and say, "Fix this, please," and they'll do it.

I'm not speaking hypothetically.  This has actually happened to me.  B&N put another author's book cover on MY product page, so I asked D2D to deal with them and get it straightened out, and they did.


Quote
B&N has been horrible and full of issues since 2020.


It's been longer than that.  My issue happened in 2017, and I'd already heard plenty of horror stories from other authors by then (which is why I published there via D2D in the first place).



Having said all that, I still appreciate B&N for being there.  I'd loving nothing more than for them to fix their flaws and be a viable competitor for Amazon.  If that ever happens, I'll be a reliable cheerleader for them.

I also appreciate my readers there.  I don't care where my readers buy my books so long as they're buying my books.  If it makes them happy, then I support it, whatever "it" might be.

But yeah, that article from the NYT is sprinkled with horse urine.
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2022, 11:35:27 PM »
No one is a hero and no one is a bad guy. All we have is different businesses attempting to leverage the market for themselves and their shareholders. Society may benefit as a result, or it may suffer - usually it's somewhere in between. Is the Amazon Flea Market approach to world domination bad for society? Many people think so. Do they still shop at Amazon? Probably. It's become a part of daily life for many Americans. But...

Amazon has always leaned into the customer experience as a way of maximizing long-term shareholder value.

On the other hand, B&N, like most publicly traded corporations over the last couple of decades, has focused on the short-term game of maximizing immediate shareholder returns - to the exclusion of everything else. This Model of Immediacy depends on the Big 5's continued cooperation, which has almost certainly had an adverse effect on B&N's strategic thinking. I would argue that they have an extremely unhealthy co-dependent relationship at this point. Make of that what you will.

The other bit of data to consider is the sheer volume of creative output going on, for any given day: 60,000 songs get upload to Spotify alone and 3,000 books get published. That's a lot of shelf space to manage. The Creative world has changed the game so completely that no one has figured it out yet, not even Amazon. Which is really cool for Creatives. We don't need to rely on century-old business models like B&N and Amazon. We can do whatever we want.
 
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2022, 12:18:55 AM »
... for any given day: 60,000 songs get upload to Spotify alone and 3,000 books get published. That's a lot of shelf space to manage. The Creative world has changed the game so completely that no one has figured it out yet, not even Amazon. Which is really cool for Creatives. We don't need to rely on century-old business models like B&N and Amazon. We can do whatever we want.

PJ has outlined the basis for the classic marketing/business strategy. If you are a late entry to a saturated market, what are you doing to differentiate yourself from the hordes of competitors?

It all comes down to find a way to break-through with marketing.  As many have said before (and said to me) it all starts with a good cover. The cover gives you three choices: 1) compel the buyer to click, 2) urge the buyer to pick up the book in a brick and mortar location, or 3) there is no three. Which is the point. Good prose or not, online or physical, if you can't get them to stop and look deeper, you are third in a two person race.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, searching for relevant keywords...

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2022, 12:31:44 AM »
2) urge the buyer to pick up the book in a brick and mortar location

Actually, the majority of books I've bought in a store were picked off the shelf solely on the basic of the title on the spine.

Only 1 in 20 or 30 books had the cover showing.

Pure space considerations.

That's one reason why I bought so many Wars, Trek, and Feist books. I could easily tell from the title if it was new or not. Didn't even need to see the cover.
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2022, 12:57:31 AM »
2) urge the buyer to pick up the book in a brick and mortar location

Actually, the majority of books I've bought in a store were picked off the shelf solely on the basic of the title on the spine.

Only 1 in 20 or 30 books had the cover showing.

Pure space considerations.

That's one reason why I bought so many Wars, Trek, and Feist books. I could easily tell from the title if it was new or not. Didn't even need to see the cover.

Valid, except for the obvious. Why do books stores turn any percentage of the inventory face-on? They give up shelf space to display the cover art, which entices the consumer to pick it up and read the back blurb.

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idontknowyet

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2022, 01:16:10 AM »
In bookstores i buy books based on author name. Rarely did i ever buy a new to me author at full price. Nothing but the title and the author was needed.

Secondhand books stores is where i explored new to me authors. That was because i read way too much to waste my budget on books i might not light. 7 books for $7 or 1 book for $7. I had to know the book was worth it. 
 

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2022, 01:20:20 AM »
Secondhand books stores is where i explored new to me authors. That was because i read way too much to waste my budget on books i might not light. 7 books for $7 or 1 book for $7. I had to know the book was worth it.

My mum is the same.
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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2022, 03:15:06 AM »
Having said all that, I still appreciate B&N for being there.  I'd loving nothing more than for them to fix their flaws and be a viable competitor for Amazon.  If that ever happens, I'll be a reliable cheerleader for them.

I also appreciate my readers there.  I don't care where my readers buy my books so long as they're buying my books.  If it makes them happy, then I support it, whatever "it" might be.

But yeah, that article from the NYT is sprinkled with horse urine.

They're not going to because they don't care. You are a possible stream of extra revenue, nothing more. Since your books aren't going to appear on their shelves (and their shelves these days only contain the most mainstream of the mainstream books), unless you can guarantee them a million sales, they don't care about you at all. The only reason they deal with D2D is because D2D represents a very large potential income and if they make them mad, all of that can go away.

B&N isn't your enemy but they certainly aren't your friends either. They are making use of you for their bottom line. If you start being more of a problem than you're worth, they won't deal with you anymore.
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary - Vince Lombardi
 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2022, 08:17:28 AM »
Since your books aren't going to appear on their shelves (and their shelves these days only contain the most mainstream of the mainstream books)


I'm sorry; I should have been more clear in my post that I was referring to their digital store.  I don't have any print books.
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KelliWolfe

Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2022, 04:24:54 AM »
If B&N focused more on sales of books in their stores, rather than games and toys, they'd serve authors and readers better. If you can't keep a good selection of books on your shelves and readers go home empty-handed, they're going to start shopping online and not come back.

As for their online store, to this day they still don't use the keyword metadata field that they've had in their publisher interface since PubIt was rolled out. That makes it far more difficult for readers to find books than on Amazon (which is also terrible for search these days but for different reasons). I don't know why they don't pull it out or actually use it, but I've been pestering support about it for the last 11 years. And they can't be bothered to fix the other long-standing bugs in the publisher interface.

They've more or less stood still for years while other platforms have offered steady improvements, both from a user and self-publisher standpoint. They're their own worst enemy.
 
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Cephus

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Re: B&N, superhero?
« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2022, 10:56:49 AM »
If B&N focused more on sales of books in their stores, rather than games and toys, they'd serve authors and readers better. If you can't keep a good selection of books on your shelves and readers go home empty-handed, they're going to start shopping online and not come back.

As for their online store, to this day they still don't use the keyword metadata field that they've had in their publisher interface since PubIt was rolled out. That makes it far more difficult for readers to find books than on Amazon (which is also terrible for search these days but for different reasons). I don't know why they don't pull it out or actually use it, but I've been pestering support about it for the last 11 years. And they can't be bothered to fix the other long-standing bugs in the publisher interface.

They've more or less stood still for years while other platforms have offered steady improvements, both from a user and self-publisher standpoint. They're their own worst enemy.

Agreed. I've been nothing but disappointed every time I've walked into a B&N looking for physical books. If you're not looking for the latest, greatest, most mainstream modern title, you're out of luck. The days when you could walk in and discover something interesting on the shelf are long gone.
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary - Vince Lombardi