Tuesday, August 7, 2012

WTF Barnes and Noble?

So, I went into my local Barnes & Noble last week to pick up Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong. Now, this book is ranked pretty high on the NYT bestseller list (#15 for hardcover last I checked).  That means that for a store that claims to discount bestsellers, it should have been a good price. And, I like to buy from brick and mortar stores since I hope to have some of my books in them one day. Buying from Barnes and Noble online won't encourage them to keep their stores open.

After hauling my kids to the store and hunting for the book (really--why the hell was it so hard to find?), I discovered it was only 20% off.

Now, 20% off isn't anything to sneeze at, but at $26.95 cover price that comes to $22.85 (including tax). As much as I want to support brick and mortar stores, I had to go online and see what the price at Amazon was. At the time, it was $17.39 (~35% off). With free shipping at $25, that meant I could buy another paperback I'd been wanting and only spend $25.38 total. So, for $2.53 I got a second book.

That second book? My Barnes & Noble didn't even have it in the store. They'd sent their copies back to the publisher... less than six months after the book was released. And they sent back all their copies. Sorry, but even more than supporting brick and mortar stores, I want to support authors which means the more authors I can buy from, the better.

Here's the funny part. Just to make sure I was getting the best possible deal, I checked Barnes & Noble online too. Funny, but if I bought from their online store, I could get the same deal as I could from Amazon. At the time though, I wasn't so amused.

I want to support their stores, and I get that it costs more to operate the store, blah, blah, blah. The problem is if buying at the store consistently costs me more than buying online, why would I ever go there other than to browse? Online, I can get any book I want (save out-of-print, etc) and I can get them for less money and without dragging my kids out and having to hunt them down in the store when I'm done.

The pricing difference between the physical store and their online counterpart is absurd. To me, it's a clear sign that Barnes & Noble wants their brick and mortar stores to fail. But I don't browse online. I don't impulse buy online. My kids? Their books will mainly come from the Scholastic flyers and school book fairs if there's no reason for me to drag them to a bookstore where they'll beg me for new books (which is a very difficult request for me to turn down). I start buying all my books online and I won't pick up that extra book I found next to the one I was looking for or the one for each kid or that computer humor book that I found mis-shelved in the SF/F section that my hubs would just love. Nope, I'll spend my $25 for free shipping and be done.

Stop screwing your stores and your customers, Barnes & Noble. Fix your pricing strategies.


  1. WTF? That seems like bad strategy, especially with sending the books back after only 6 months. I like going to Chapters (and actually hate ordering from them online, love Amazon, hate Chapters). I love browsing the books and I especially love the bargain book table (under $5!), I've found some favourites there and picked up hardcovers from authors I love as they're being cleared out. I love brick and morter book stores and would hate to see them gone forever.

  2. I remember when you tweeted about that. There was a time I loved B&N, thought they were awesome, wouldn't even consider ordering from Amazon or The Book Depository. Times have changed. I won't order from B&N online anymore because they have screwed up too many orders and in-store, well, they're not cheap, so I browse. I look around, get ideas, then go to teh library or online to get what I want. I go to the physical maybe every 6 weeks or so now that I have internet at home. I try to shop at my local indie store but they are mostly regular price, which I can't really afford.

    Shopping online lacks that browsing you mentioned, the unexpected finds, though I do still give in to impulse purchases. :D


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