Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kill the bookstores, then the books

When I worked at a barnes & noble, I was disconcerted at one point when a manager sat me down and explained how I needed to sell more discount cards. What was particularly troubling, besides this hammering of the frontlines to sell more useless crap to people, was that he explained that books do not hold much in the way of profit for the stores, so they were focusing more on the non-book merchandise - stationery, bookends, book lights, bookmarks... those last three becoming effectively useless once these chains successfully destroy book publishing, of course.

Before you accuse me of being some crying Cassandra, there's this article from Shelf Awareness, reproduced in full because they don't have a link:

Pottery Barnes?: B&N Expanding Home Products

Barnes & Noble is "making a big push in home furnishings," an effort that features an exclusive partnership with designer Jonathan Adler and selling Mitchell Gold furniture, according to the June 18 issue of Home Furnishings News. (For now at least, the full story is not available online.) Bill Miller, B&N's v-p of gift, said that the retailer aims to expand "home business" to 10%-15% of company revenues, up from about 6% today. "Because books [are sold everywhere], we're trying to make a stake in the non-book business," he told HFN.

Among elements of the change:

The Jonathan Adler line of pottery, frames and more will make its debut in September "front and center" in some 500 B&N stores.

The company has begun selling Mitchell Gold leather reading chairs in the seating areas of 10 stores--along with copies of Gold's book, Let's Get Comfortable.

A test of framed art in 18 stores that began last fall and was particularly successful in urban areas is being expanded to 65 more stores this month, including many in the Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle markets.

The selection of framed art will grow from black-and-white photographs from the Getty archive, National Geographic and Life magazine, among other sources, to artwork and prints, too.

The Botanique "seasonal home d├ęcor program with floral, archival images reminiscent of [B&N's] greeting card collection" has passed its test with flying colors, and another seasonal home program will make its debut in the fourth quarter.

B&N is also considering adding or increasing picture frames, mugs, lighting and storage and organization products in many of its stores.


And yes, it's worth repeating the quote from Bill Miller of b&n, echoing my old store manager: "Because books [are sold everywhere], we're trying to make a stake in the non-book business." They are not sold in as many places as they once were, Billy ol' boy, because your evil empire is destroying independents. And why? So you can move on to LOUNGE CHAIRS?!

The world's gone mad.

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