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GeneralTonic t1_j21m3nl wrote

>Of course, there’s a lesson here. And it’s not just for books. You could also apply it to music, newspapers, films, and a host of other media.

>But I almost hate to say it, because the lesson is so simple.

>If you want to sell music, you must love those songs. If you want to succeed in journalism, you must love those newspapers. If you want to succeed in movies, you must love the cinema.

Preach it! There was a time when bookstores were run by booksellers, not MBAs. When newspapers were run by newspapermen, not corporate mercenaries. You've got people in charge of these companies who look at their assets (including century-long reputations) and see a bunch of junk that should be turned into cash, rather than a business that accomplishes a service or provides goods and pays well those who do it.


miss_scarlet_letter t1_j222a7s wrote

wish they'd let medical professionals run medicine too.


Spare-Variation-7702 t1_j2300vm wrote

That's silly. People who study medicine for decades have no more knowledge than my google search. /s


T2and3 t1_j28m4kj wrote

But my one source from this sketchy pop science website one step removed from a blog post surely outweighs your years of studying medicine and decade of practical experience.


vulgrin t1_j24yw75 wrote

Hey, these vaginas ain’t gonna regulate themselves!


SegmentedMoss t1_j21on9c wrote

Shit, they dont even see people as people

Thats why the department is called "Human Resources." And those are the people who work for them!


harlie_lynn t1_j23un30 wrote

In my industry, many firms have switched to "Human Capital" which seems even more dehumanizing and kinda creepy lol


violetlilyrose t1_j22yo3h wrote

>You've got people in charge of these companies who look at their assets (including century-long reputations) and see a bunch of junk that should be turned into cash, rather than a business that accomplishes a service or provides goods and pays well those who do it.

Yes! I feel like this goes for just about every industry these days and it's frustrating.


assvision2020 t1_j24l6im wrote

It goes for every industry because the people at the top are essentially the same - to them ultimately a widget's a widget, and the point of a widget is to transfer as much money into their pockets from as many people as possible


digital_dreams t1_j22vkdg wrote

When you have a bunch of corporate busybody number crunchers making the decisions on what to sell... it should be no surprise that the product is bland and soulless.


thewhitecat55 t1_j24ge1v wrote

This is the problem in the video game industry as well.

Moronic suits who don't get it.


SweetCosmicPope t1_j21t296 wrote

I thought it was kind of cool they brought up how the staff run their own stores. And this does show. When I go to Barnes and Noble and they have staff picks or I can chat with the staff about what books they like, that’s a good sign of a great store.

Incidentally, I’d be curious to see what ebook sales look like to the average consumer. I don’t discount them as a market, especially among heavy readers, but I personally see less ereaders out there these days than I used to and I see many more books. And my personal preference is for books as I just don’t enjoy the format of ereaders. So I’d be interested to see if that market is dipping or not.


AtomicBananaSplit t1_j22508z wrote

I think it’s hard to judge ebooks based solely on e-reader frequency. The kindle and Libby apps both work great, and let me read anywhere on my phone without having to carry a second device or a physical book around. It’s entirely possible the person next to you on the subway is reading The Count of Monte Christi, to Reddit’s great delight.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy a physical book from time to time, and the act of walking through a library or a brick and mortar store and getting recommendations from people who work there leads me into things I may not otherwise try. There are also things that don’t work well electronically, like House of Leaves or How to Survive in a Science Fiction Universe, or books with a lot of foot notes (eg Pratchett). But I probably read 90% on my phone, from disposable stuff to comics to literature.


Hartastic t1_j22fref wrote

> I think it’s hard to judge ebooks based solely on e-reader frequency. The kindle and Libby apps both work great, and let me read anywhere on my phone without having to carry a second device or a physical book around. It’s entirely possible the person next to you on the subway is reading The Count of Monte Christi, to Reddit’s great delight.

Yep. As another anecdote, 90% of my reading is on my phone these days. I have an eReader and I do use it in certain circumstances. I haven't bought a dead tree book since the Bush Administration and I don't know that I ever will again.

My wife, who reads probably 5 books a week on average is phone, tablet, or PC and would never be seen with an ereader as such.


PatBev_Clamped_Ja t1_j23lhs1 wrote

Haha I read on my phone, laptop, and ereader too. I have eyesight issues so I do prefer a screen where you can enlarge text. It is an accessibility preference for me, but it’s also because I love reading multiple books at once too. Like your wife I probably go through around 3-5 books a week simply because I always halfway thru one book or the other.


ClarielOfTheMask t1_j22k8yu wrote

Yeah, I think the market is balancing out a little. There will always be demand for both mediums because they're not perfect replacements for each other. They fulfill different needs.

There are still issues with both industries but I don't see either one ever totally dying


Spare-Variation-7702 t1_j230g2i wrote

Glad they are doing this. I was at Borders near the tail end of the business.

When I started it was very bookseller focused. Store managers had a big say in inventory and could cater to local interests. I for awhile was in an area with a large African-American demographic and we had a very large African-American fiction section. It quite literally rivaled in shelf space to our fiction and genre fiction sections.

Corporate buyers took the reigns and the section was reduced to about 3 cases cause that was the company average and our sales started to really suffer and the complaints came rolling in.

Don't even get me started on Borders "Make Books" sales strategy. Vendor provides us with a title at a huge discount for all booksellers to now push onto every customer no matter what. "Oh you're here looking for sci fi titles? have you thought about this book about dying of cancer instead? real page turner!" It was awful


spookyspocky t1_j22nlms wrote

My local bookstore put little notes on books with the reader’s comments; most were on books I already read and loved. I bought 4 new books :)


Illustrious-Net-7198 t1_j24dmeg wrote

Mine has a big section of employee recommendations, with little comments from each person as to why and what they loved about the book. Is it more expensive than other places? Sure. But it’s an amazing store, and I did a lot of my Christmas shopping there.


hgaterms t1_j2517gw wrote

I was just at the B&N store in my city, and the staff picks were all stuff that I already loved. It was nice to see that we were on the same page.

(The "staff pick" for Project Hail Mary had me giggling what they had written. I'm paraphrasing, but it was "best book I've read in a while and I would literally die for the co-protagonist." )


SweetCosmicPope t1_j252jov wrote

My wife was looking for some book (I can’t remember what now) a few months ago and couldn’t find it even though it said it was in store on their site. I told her I’d ask the girl at the information desk and she was like “awesome! I just read that book! It’s so great!” She excitedly asked one of the guys to check the back and he was just as excited and said “[book name]! Nice!” and retrieved it for me. Maybe they were just trying to be really customer service forward but they seemed legit excited to get that book for me so someone else could read it too.


GESNodoon t1_j21e1se wrote

The thing I learn, but already knew, is that advertisers and discounts are not something there to help the buyer. They are there to earn money. Companies to not spend thousands or millions on advertising just for fun, they do it to get you to buy something that you normally would not buy. We are all aware of McDonalds or Coca-Cola but they spend millions to make sure their products are at the front of your brain. I like what this guy at B&N is doing, cutting the junk out. With books it is a huge thing not to see what the publishers are trying to force as the next best seller placed at the front and instead books that people actually like.


Jenniferinfl t1_j21oaj1 wrote

I didn't think it was that surprising.

Barnes and Nobles always had the best atmosphere of the big chains. Borders felt like a Kmart, no surprise when they closed. Books A Million had that Kmart feel too back in the day, but, they ripped a page out of BN's book and now look like Barnes on the inside.

People aren't just there for the books, they are there for an experience. Barnes and Noble got it in a way the other chains didn't.

If it feels like you are shopping in a Kmart, why not just shop online?

I go to Barnes and now Books a Million for the fun of walking through a predictable bookstore experience. I'm more likely to frequent my local bookstore, but, sometimes those big corporate places can be fun.


Decent_Blackberry742 t1_j22zozz wrote

I was devastated when Borders went out of business. I never understood why Barnes and Noble didn't (and still doesn't) have the computer kiosks throughout the store like Borders did. I liked being able to find books without having to ask the help desk.


michaelk4289 t1_j233ejt wrote

I worked at B&N for over a decade. It's because for any given title, there are likely 3-4 places it can be (section, endcap, table, maybe a second endcap) but only 1-2 copies on hand.

The system they used to manage inventory must have been coded by the same people who made Southwest's scheduling software.


Trilly2000 t1_j23lz6a wrote

Also, if a customer interacts with a bookseller they’re more likely to have a positive experience and possibly purchase more.


Nice_Sun_7018 t1_j23zvmd wrote

When I worked at B&N they actually piloted those. I guess they weren’t happy with the results because it (clearly) didn’t last. Anecdotal, but it also didn’t seem to help all that much. The kiosks would benefit some people, but you’d still get a ton of people coming to an employee because they still couldn’t find the book where it was supposed to be, or they couldn’t find the actual section itself, especially if it was a smaller one. The kiosks didn’t help at all for the “what’s the book with the dog who becomes an astronaut?” type questions, or the “I’m looking for something for my niece who is thirteen and having a birthday next week, what do you recommend?” ones.


Ineffable7980x t1_j24n3n5 wrote

I believe it was because Borders was late to adopt an online sales presence. Plus they over expanded and did so too rapidly.


T2and3 t1_j28nyrx wrote

Mine used to have them for close to a decade, but they got rid of them a while ago.


DoctorTwoB t1_j237wgf wrote

What do you have against Kmart, homie


Jenniferinfl t1_j23c2qp wrote

Eh the yellowed originally white vinyl floors, the flickering fluorescent with every third bulb dead. The smocks. The dismal feeling of a retailer on the way out.


SethManhammer t1_j23z39f wrote

Don't forget the nicely mixed scent of mildew and urine lurking down every isle, waiting to assault your nostrils.


tonyrocks922 t1_j247ux5 wrote

Interesting, I worked at Barnes & Noble for years in the early 00s and I always preferred Borders as a customer. I tried to get a job there over and over but was never able to.


thewhitecat55 t1_j24h2fm wrote

I liked the comfy leather chairs that were here and there to just sit and read a bit. To see if that particular book is for me.

And it REALLY worked in their favor , imo. The longer someone spends in your space , the more they may purchase.


Razorbackalpha t1_j22svfy wrote

Your on the money I think plus they also tend to have the biggest variety of manga and vinyls of any major store which gets in 2 devote niches to their stores. Plus with a membership they have some of the cheapest toys as well.


violetlilyrose t1_j22xqje wrote

It is just too bad they didn't turn it around sooner. My husband left after being there over a decade, as head of a department, about a year or so before the surprise firing of most of their full time employees who weren't management that's mentioned in this article. He ended up at the library, which is also where a couple of coworkers landed. B&N lost a whole lot of incredibly knowledgeable career booksellers who were passionate about the job with that decision to just fire them all. Not employees who were there for a random retail job, a lot of those full timers were the "true believers" Decades of industry experience just gone. Glad they're turning it around but that's all I can think about all that. I worked there way back in 2001-2003 but that was an entirely different sort of retail environment.


tonyrocks922 t1_j2484xc wrote

BN was a great place to work years ago. I did 7 years in the 00s at one of the largest locations and loved that so many of my coworkers were career booksellers. It's so sad that so many of them who stuck around lost their jobs during that purge.


South_Honey2705 t1_j21wgwz wrote

I'm sticking with the Indy bookstores


DoctorTwoB t1_j23928r wrote

Thats nice you got money. I am sticking with my local libraries. Kindle and Libby rule.


RealLADude t1_j21pqak wrote

Interesting article. I’m disappointed he doesn’t know how to spell tchotchkes.


realJaneJacobs t1_j22lgdj wrote

Whilst tchotchke is the most common spelling, chachka is one of the many accepted alternate spellings, along with tsatske, chotchke, tshatshke (a direct transliteration from the Yiddish טשאַטשקע), chatchka, and chatchke


NekoCatSidhe t1_j23dh7y wrote

So the trick is selling good books they think the readers might actually want to read, rather than accepting money from publishers to hawk subpar « bestsellers » that the corporate overlords have decided should sell ? Amazing ! Who would have thought it ? /s

Something I have noticed here in France is that the bookshops that are successful are the big independent bookshops like Gibert Joseph in the Quartier Latin in Paris. They tend to be huge, with a lot of nooks and crannies full of books on various esoteric subjects. They can give Amazon a run for their money when it come to the variety and availability of the books they sell, and there is always a great atmosphere in these bookshops. They are paradises for bookworms. Even as someone who almost always read on my Kindle now and buy ebooks on Amazon, this is still the kind of places I love to go to and buy books from. And I am not the only one : Gibert Joseph is not only thriving, but also opening subsidiary bookshops in other big towns of France. By contrast, FNAC, the main chain bookstore in France, switched over the years from mostly selling books to mostly selling electronic devices, and only survived the pandemic thanks to a loan from the government.


thek0238 t1_j23qkjn wrote

Legit haven't thought about FNAC in reference to buying books in over six years and didn't even realize it until this moment


Upton_Sinclair_Lewis t1_j238eax wrote

Sometimes I get a coffee at the pseudo-Starbucks in the store and then sit and read a magazine.


KenEsq t1_j223rbb wrote

Barnes & Noble is a decent experience, but for me, Kindles are a far better reading experience. If there was a way to buy Kindle books from a bricks and mortar store I would consider it.


Grace_Alcock t1_j22bpdh wrote

I tend to stand in the middle of Barnes and Noble looking up books on Libby!


KenEsq t1_j23ons2 wrote

Overdrive and Libby are a great resource especially if you can get library cards from some good libraries.


DoctorTwoB t1_j237zc8 wrote

If its a novel, I use a Kindle. For reference books, coffee table books, books with timelines and visuals and maps I like physical copies. I can go through these books for hours.


KenEsq t1_j23oug0 wrote

I would agree with that. E-Readers are pretty awful at displaying that type of material.


ElegantVamp t1_j23k5kd wrote

It helps that a lot of the "Picks of the Month" come from other Booksellers from other stores and not just corporate picks.


142Ironmanagain t1_j23l4ip wrote

Very cool story! I used to be in publishing sales 20 years ago, when mom and pops were still holding their own against ‘the chains’ of B&N, Borders & Waldenbooks in the malls. It seems now the only chain in town survives by acting like an independent bookstore. So basically we’ve come full circle! Hysterical. The old quote ‘do what you love, the money will follow’ seems appropriate.

I also like to believe that as the article mentioned, even in this highly technological society, nothing beats the overwhelming power of the written word on a physical page. Hope that urge never dies out.