In my opinion, Barnes & Noble is next on the chopping block. I may be wrong, and I hope I am. But gosh darn it, there are just too many red flags flying for me to think otherwise.
In B&N's recent announcement, chief merchandising officer, Jaime Carey said, "Their [Amazon's] actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content," Carey said. "It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest. We don’t get many requests for Amazon titles, but if customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at bn.com.”
STOP RIGHT THERE. Barnes & Noble has just announced that they are dying. Here's why:
B&N's shot in the left foot.
"Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content,"
Really? If B&N is upset that Amazon has "prevented millions of customers from having access to content", then why would they refuse to sell books that Amazon publishes? Isn't that preventing "customers" from accessing content as well? I'm not sure if Jaime wrote that press release, but that is a serious contradiction. Does B&N really want to make all books available? Do they really care about availability? Answer: No, they do not. They just don't want to be put out of business and made to be fools by smarter Ivy League grads.
The truth is, Barnes & Noble isn't the least bit concerned about freedom of content. In fact, they have continued to squeeze books out of their inventories over the last few years, and have been closed off to providing "customers" with content in their stores. Ask any bestselling independent author who has been refused into their closed-off club of select publishers. I hate to tell you this B&N, but what goes around comes around.
B&N's shot in the right foot.
"It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest."
Wow! That is just laughable. Do the leaders at B&N actually think that Amazon and other book retailers are teaming up as a world-wide endowment of literature? No, they are not. They are in business to make money. Period. That's all they care about. That is their sole purpose. And duh, of course Amazon is in it "for their own self interest." What executive in his right mind would think otherwise. They sure as heck aren't in business for Barnes & Noble's interests. If that's the way the leadership at B&N thinks, their business is in serious trouble. Big business is not team work! It's about money and it's about trumping your competitor.
B&N's shot in the heart.
"We don’t get many requests for Amazon titles, but if customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at bn.com."
The bigger question is, is pulling the titles that Amazon publishes from their stores a good business decision? Answer: NO, it is not. Just think about that declaration for a moment and let that sink in. Amazon is selling plenty of big name authors in their stores like King, Koontz, and Collins and titles like Steve Jobs biography. The Hunger Games is Amazon's #1, #2, and #3 top selling books at this moment. And those titles are in BN.com's top six. King and Steve Jobs are in B&N's and Amazon's top twenty. The point is, the demand for books is mirrored in both stores. So if B&N chooses not to sell self-help author Tim Ferriss' books because he is published by an Amazon imprint, I 'd wager that readers will go somewhere else to buy it. This will not help B&N's bottom line. In fact, B&N will only exclude themselves from profiting from Amazon published titles. And that's their fix?
Let me get this straight. Amazon pushes for exclusivity, and B&N's response is to further exclude themselves from available and popular books? Is that a good business decision? No.
B&N's shot in the head.
"Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole…"
In my opinion, Barnes and Noble is committing suicide because Amazon is winning, and they're using a frickin' B-52 bomber. They are crying and pouting like little babies, when what they should be doing is figuring out what they are doing wrong, or perhaps use Amazon as a template for good business. They should look at Amazon's utilization of product cross promotion, author promotion, and customer buying patterns, and figure out how to implement those tactics in their own selling algorithms, not because they want to be like Amazon, but because it is working for Amazon.
Businesses do this all the time; it's called benchmarking. It's called improving by looking at a standard, a point of reference. It's called getting off your rumpus, stop crying, and start reprogramming your stupid website!
I hate to sound cynical about all of this, because I'm a very positive person, and I really want book stores to survive and thrive. I just hate cry babies. Is it really Amazon's fault that B&N is failing? Is it Amazon's fault that B&N's online book shop is not as attractive to authors? Is it Amazon's fault that B&N can't seem to make good business decisions. No. It is not. Amazon has made smarter decisions than Barnes & Noble, simple as that.
All to say, I'm buying a poncho from Amazon for two reasons:
#1. Barnes & Nobles doesn't sell them.
#2. There's going to be a serious blood bath when B&N pulls the trigger.
What do you think? I could be wrong. Maybe you can convince me otherwise.
Jeff Bennington is the author of Twisted Vengeance, Reunion, Creepy and The Indie Authors Guide to the Universe. Please buy one of these; sort of like a tip. they are mostly 99¢!
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