Borders’ liquidation this summer should have been Barnes & Noble’s grand opportunity to grab a sizable market share, just as the warehouse book-selling superstores benefited in the past when they ruthlessly forced countless smaller and independent bookstores to board up and call it quits.
But something isn’t quite right at Barnes & Noble. Call it bad zeitgeist or whatever you want, but the vibe is all wrong. A quick check of our local store this weekend revealed aisle upon aisle, indeed entire sections of the store, stocked with non-book items, junk we’d never have seen a few years ago. One would’ve thought that putting out their own proprietary eReader (Nook) should have kept Barnes & Noble in the game, but a price-slashing war with Amazon is exposing the retailer’s financial shortcomings.
These times, they are a-changing, and Barnes & Noble can kiss their glory days goodbye.
The bookseller just emerged from another dreadful quarter. Take the Nook and its digital downloads out of the equation and the stark reality is that sales actually fell by 11% at its superstores. Unlike Amazon, which has a habit of always turning a profit, Barnes & Noble posted another wider-than-expected deficit.
Losing money and market share is a recurring theme at their superstores, and stacks of the Steve Jobs biography at a 30% markdown isn’t going to staunch the bleeding. Barnes & Noble has missed Wall Street’s profit targets in each of the past six quarters, and industry analysts see nothing but losses for all of fiscal 2012.
We’re now heading into the Christmas season, by far the most profitable part of the year for booksellers, but with so many consumers purchasing gifts cheaper online (including books), how many will be crowding the registers at your local Barnes & Noble? For the real book lover in your family, wouldn’t a Kindle make a more attractive gift? Forget the Nook. Kindle owns the eReader market.