Over on Dear Author this morning, on their morning news roundup post, I spotted this New York Times article about the new CEO of Barnes and Noble and what his goals are for the chain. There are two general points of interest for me in this article, both of which make me look askance at B&N’s entire modus operandi these days.
To that end, Mr. Boire is leading a push to rebrand Barnes & Noble as more than just a bookstore by expanding its offerings of toys, games, gadgets and other gifts and reshaping the nation’s largest bookstore chain into a “lifestyle brand.”
As one of Dear Author’s commenters pointed out, exactly whose lifestyle is B&N aiming to represent here? Do they have anything more specific in mind there than “people who are actually willing to set foot in our stores and give us money”? Because I certainly haven’t seen much in the way of actual focus here.
And the other bit I want to call out:
Still, the company’s struggles are probably far from over. Barnes & Noble has been battered by Amazon, its powerful online rival, and has incurred big financial losses from its largely failed attempt to carve out territory in the e-book space with the Nook. While the company posted lower losses in its Nook division in the most recent quarter, sales were still disappointing, as the Nook segment tumbled 31.9 percent to $43.5 million, primarily because of lower digital content sales.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: look, B&N, your ebook sales might not have tanked if you hadn’t unilaterally screwed up the entire experience of buying ebooks on your site when you overhauled it this past summer. I haven’t bought a single ebook from B&N since that site update. It is directly responsible for me shifting the majority of my ebook purchases over to Kobo, with a side helping of Smashwords and Amazon for indie authors.
In other words, if you make it teeth-grindingly impossible for customers to buy digital content on your site, you know what’s going to happen? They’re not going to buy digital content from you.
The Digital Reader had some recent B&N news too. And what made me raise my eyebrows there was that apparently, B&N is now selling pasta. Pasta. Seriously?
Because, as one of the Digital Reader’s commenters pointed out, when I want to buy pasta, I think B&N!
If you need me, I’ll be over here facepalming.
And, for that matter, buying all my future print book purchases at Third Place Books.