The Bookstore Will Be No More …

… It will be replaced by the Nookstore.

Aside from the increasingly rare yet charming small local bookstores, the demise of Borders leaves Barnes and Noble as the last standing major book chain.  The small chains like Joseph-Beth sadly have their days numbered as well, the most recent victims of Chapter 11.  It has been speculated that in order for B&N to survive, it will likely take its arrangement with Starbucks Cafes and expand them, so that the books in the bookstore will be incidental. Our B & N megastore on Route 17 South in Paramus now boasts a large Nook theater that occupies center stage in the store.

There are signs that the socialization of B & N is well underway.  Some of that socialization model brings bodies into the store, but I’m not sure it’s in a profitable way that will sustain the bricks and mortar of the location.  The kids who hoard the chairs and tables in cafe locations, turning them into private study halls, don’t purchase enough food or books to sustain the economic model.  They’re bright, polite, and sociable, but the books they take off the shelves are used as reference material, such as Kaplan Study Guides, not for purchase.  I rarely if ever see any of them at the checkout counter, purchasing food or drink in the store, or visiting with Nook agents.

Nor am I singling out the study hall kids.  The same socialization conundrum exists for the chess players in the cafe.  They hoard tables for board meetings, not to purchase anything in the stores.  What most certainly will not work is the way many B & N locations are cluttering up the aisles with toys.   This isn’t likely to be a solvent business model, even if it were confined to the childrens’ section, which oddly enough it isn’t.

As a long-standing B & N card member, who has dropped thousands of dollars in their bookstores and online, here is some unsolicited advice:  follow the way of bookstore bistros.  Monitor the space utilization more closely.  Find a way for your marketing geniuses to interface the study hall kids, the chess players, and other eclectic cliques with enough purchases to justify the real estate.  The nooks and crannies of the cafe have to be better balanced with the Nooks and … well, you fill in the blank.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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