Jun 27, 2013

Hey, Barnes and Noble: I have the solution to all your problems!

So Barnes & Noble is in trouble, which is no secret. You can catch up a bit here.

As an author, I'm a bit nervous about the prospect of B&N going under. Which isn't imminent, or even sure. But still, when I see them standing on shaky ground, my own knees get a little jelly in them.

B&N has traditionally been so important in the book industry that they have the power to send publishers back to the drawing board (literally) to redo book jackets. Or so goes the scuttlebutt among authors. It's also understood by authors that if B&N chooses to stock your book, you can breathe a little easier, because chances are you'll at least sell your first printing. And if you're blessed with front-of-store or special table placement, you are gold. (And your publisher likes you, too, because they paid good money to put your book there.)

I don't know how true all of that really is, but it's an example of the power B&N has, and the respect it gets (however grudgingly) from the authors I know.

So to think B&N might some day no longer be around is a big deal. Especially when I consider that I miss Borders lots more than I thought I would.

But! Fear not, Barnes & Noble! Because I have the solution to all your problems, and it's so simple you'll smack yourself on the forehead.

Ready? Here it is:


Stock more. Lots more. Please, please, please get rid of all those toys and games and Legos, and while you're at it, forget the CDs and DVDs too. And put books there instead. Lots and lots of books of all kinds. Best-sellers are OK. But also, obscure titles from small publishers. Backlist titles and old favorites. Maybe (gasp!) even a few self-pubbed gems. Fill your cavernous stores with a jillion different titles, and tempt me. Make me swoon!

A bookstore should be a place of delicious discovery, where you can go and browse, and sit in a comfy chair (remember when B&N had those??), and find new books by authors you hadn't heard of before, and take them home and dive in.

B&N used to be like that. And it can be again. But now the books they sell are the usual, skim-the-surface offerings: best-sellers; familiar names. Boring, boring, boring. There are more than a few dozen authors in the world, B&N, and trust me: more really good books than can ever fit on a dozen bestseller lists. Why not, like, actually stock some of those?

Go ahead, B&N. Find your roots. Do what you're best at. Give us BOOKS.

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