Dear Barnes and Noble:
Pardon the pun. I’ve been reading news stories about you. You’re trying to survive against Amazon. You fired yet another CEO. Let me give you a few ideas.
- What can a live box store give that an online store can’t? Premium Customer Service.
But this can’t be achieved when you’ve just laid off 1600 people. Happy employees are productive employees, and in turn will make your customers feel valued. INVEST in your employees.
The other day, I was in the Burlington, Massachusetts store, and an employee walked around giving coupons for Starbucks, and also took the time to ask if I needed help finding anything. She didn’t just hand me the coupon and take off. She had a conversation with me as a human, not just a customer who had money in my pocket. This is what we want more of from you.
2. You are a brick and mortar store, so you can have LIVE events.
Invite local authors to have book signings. Also have local authors’ books available for sale, even if you have to make another category for it and update your software.
3. Prices! You can do better.
For those who are Members of Barnes and Noble and have the discount card, make saving money easier. Instead of just emailing coupons, give us the option to send the coupon to the card. Again, this requires a software change. CVS does this, ask them if you need assistance.
Years ago I shopped at a Caldor’s store that always reduced prices at the cash register. I’m not sure how they did it, but I would find an item on sale for $8, and when I got to the register, it rang up for $6. They had secret savings. As a consumer, this made me extremely happy. Try this occasionally. People like the feeling of winning.
My friend shopped at the Albany, NY store last week, and wanted to buy a George R.R. Martin book. But your price was $20 more than Amazon! Unless you’ve got George there in person signing the books, that’s just not going to work. She put the book back on the shelf and shopped Amazon online when she got home.
The cost of an item is still the bottom line for customers.
4. Do something about the NOOK. Improve it. Make it user-friendly. Make it BETTER than Kindle!
I bought a Nook a few years back and had trouble maneuvering the menus. It was not as user-friendly as it should be. Then, it died suddenly. I bought a new one on sale, but it gave me a lot of trouble. (Now before you blame me, I have an IT background.) I was unable to download books from my local library onto it. No one could find the problem. Surprise, I stopped using it, and I use the Kindle app on my phone instead.
5. Fix your magazine layout.
I am 50-something, with some artificial parts. To get to magazines on the lower level, I have to bend and twist into positions I have not been in since my early twenties. Maybe just put Children’s magazines down there?
6. It’s time to start playing Offense, and stop playing Defense.
Don’t chase Amazon. Make the changes so that they need to chase YOU.
7. Keep the bathrooms spotless.
This will require an investment of time and money, but as a woman, let me tell you this is very important. Enough said.
8. Remember, people want you to succeed.
We don’t want Amazon taking over the whole known universe. We like being in a brick and mortar bookstore. We like the smell of the books, the selection, paging through new releases. In the winter, B & N is a great destination when we need to overcome Cabin Fever.
From my most recent trip to Barnes and Noble.
And so, Barnes and Noble, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at
I want you to succeed!