July 31, 2013

Your Input Desired on Barnes & Noble

Dear Readers - give this little ditty some consideration (click here please).  I'll wait for you to finish.

Good, welcome back!

In the comments section, describe what you would do if you were CEO of Barnes and Noble. What would you do if you followed the omnichannel playbook (Nook) and your investments caused hundreds of millions in losses ... what would you do if the old-school multi-channel playbook of bricks-and-mortar may not be competitive with Amazon?  What would you do if, as the author says, you have 3 or 10 but certainly not 20 years left?  Or is the author nuts?

Please leave a comment - tell us what you would do if you were CEO.


  1. The suggestion in the article was a good one. 50 dollar ereader using E-ink and a 50 coupon.
    Then in the Nook department space in the stores put an expresso machine.
    if you buy an Ebook on the nook reader - or any reader though the B+N store you get a solid discount if you come back in a few months and buy the book either expresso printed or a real book.
    use the expresso machine to print anything legal the customer wants
    put the sofas and chairs back in the stores. put in tables and great WiFi. Sell stationary. Make the stores the community centers they used to be.
    Hire an imaginative CEO who has a feel for books and doesn't just like new gadgets. (it would be an interesting job BTW)

  2. oh - and while you are add it next to the Expresso machine - put in a 3D printer.

  3. Hi Kevin,
    Cut off so this is part 1-
    For next CEO, do a SWOT
    S--Tons of retail space that is filled with people(not necessarily customers) and books onhand, strong brand name, prices online that while aren’t lower are pretty close to Amazon, strong brand reach with the college bookstores
    W—Can’t compete on price in stores so no one buys in the stores, can’t compete in tablet market as few use them to actually read, meaningless loyalty program, self-publishing ebooks failure
    O---All the people that are in the store! Most department stores would kill to get that kind of traffic.
    T---Amazon, drop in reading

    SO---here are first things I would do in a 90 day plan rolled out to cross of a dozen stores(high, low and medium)

  4. So here are suggestions to fix:
    1. Match the store price with online and allow store pickup. Macys does this VERY well. ---people are in the store or if they want to go pick up they will be IN the store and browsing. Impulse buying I am sure is still leading reason people purchase. This is a must for BN to survive. Advertise this policy change.
    2. Dump the nook and join forces with Apple. They were just hammered on the book ruling---convince them to allow BN.com to be the buying mechanism—and pair it up with the stores. It forms a strategic partnership that benefits both parties, especially coupled with the pick up at store option. If they don’t go for it consider Google/Android. Else just offer DRM free format usable on any device.
    3. Replace Nook space at front with most popular books. These were where they used to be before the nook pushed them off to the sides by magazines. Have equivalent of genius bar with employees well versed in different categories. Physical books are your bread and butter and your expertise.
    4. B&N has plenty of stores with plenty of space. Book buyers tend to come from more affluent families---add something else that caters to upper middle class and wealthy. Not sure the toys currently in stores are working…maybe art with paintings, sculptures and the like. Maybe in states where sell local wines or craft beers. Fancy bookshelves designed to show off collections.
    5.People come to relax—that is evident by the crowds you see in the stores. A local regional department store by me and really great retail story (Boscovs) has auditoriums in their stores and various ones offer college lectures or classes for senior citizens or other community events through the in-store auditorium. B&N could emulate that. Or expand the cafĂ©---offer wine, or craft beer or exotic cheeses and desserts that you sell in the store part as well.
    6.Find ways to grow college bookstores so that kids who graduate are still loyal B&N customers. Make their experience preferable to buying online. Market to them—they are your future.
    7.Loyalty program—make it meaningful, link it to the buyer’s social media(facebook, twitter, instagram, reddit, etc) so they get a badge or something recognizable on their page, perhaps related to their reading habits. Offer members only contests, and monthly surprises (Congratulations—this $10 book in your wishlist is only $1 today only). Work with ticket master or stubhub to get discounts on concert/movie/themepark tickets for members. AND do what you aren't doing now--appeal to college students through the bookstores---currently member card can't be used at the college bookstores--what a waste!
    8. Back in late 90's you could buy B&N branded books, classics and special picks by them. Do same thing working with self-published e-books. Yes Amazon has edge, but they publish everything including bad scans of old books. B&N brand name applied would imply quality. Make authors seek to be B&N branded.
    9.Market and educate your audience to the changes. And do same with employees---again, Macys does this very well. Build the excitement!

    I could go on, but just evaluate these steps after 90 days, expand what works, determine if you need more time on others, and listen to feedback—more ideas from your customers and associates buoyed by initial changes.

    Thanks, Kevin. Keep up all the great though-provoking articles.


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