The Ereading Blog

Can Barnes & Noble’s Redesigned Shopping Bags Revise its Bookstores?

LOGO-BarnesNoble-VerticalA few days back, an article by Belinda Lanks at BloombergBusiness asked a pretty simple question: "Can Barnes & Noble's Redesigned Shopping Bags Revive Its Bookstores?"

In a word: "No."

Using their plastic shopping bags to promote the Nook reader for the past few years didn't prop up that division or make it a particue market softened in 2013.    

The truth is, Barnes & Noble’s problems go way beyond the effectiveness of their shopping bags.

One of our biggest strengths at Eread Technologies is that our team understands our market and our competition, which includes Barnes & Noble.  Our business model is also nimble and allows us to adapt to the changing book and publishing market while leveraging enterprise-grade technologies that are increasingly affordable to develop, deploy, and maintain.  Plus, we have prioritized synergy between our divisions and we’re building a model that is socially-beneficial, is sustainable and works integrally, and that isn’t at odds with itself on multiple levels.

Barnes & Noble seems incapable of understanding or implementing any of these concepts.

This could be arrogance, but more likely than not, it is because the company is simply entrenched in an “old-school” way of doing business.

Put more succinctly, it’s a lumbering, hot mess.

The reality is that many Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores are losing money.  A lot of money.  Also, there is no effective synergy between the brick-and-mortar stores, the self-publishing division, or the Nook program.  Customers–whether they're B2C or B2B–are ultimately left baffled about how Barnes & Noble can best serve their needs…needs which can sometimes represent a complex and multi-tiered relationship with the bookseller.

For example, more than one self-published author has been known to ask, "Why can't I get my books into a Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar store?"  

The answer isn’t particularly complicated.

The brick-and-mortar division is terrified of damaging their profitable co-op relationships with legacy publishers by introducing self-published print titles into the brick-and-mortar stores.  Legacy publishers fear that popular self-published writers will cannibalize their print sales at the brick-and-mortar level.

And they’re probably right.

Legacy publishers are trying to prop up their declining print business by leaning on Barnes & Noble, effectively one of their last and biggest brick-and-mortar outlets.  And because Barnes & Noble is a willing participant in this outdated and outmoded business model, it is hurting them tremendously. 

In fact, their short-term thinking is doing just as much damage to company’s effectiveness than Amazon or a disruptive startup like® ever could.

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