Wednesday, August 4, 2010

barnes and noble up for sale

first off—i want to make it clear that i love barnes and noble and i want barnes and noble to succeed and i want to continue my working relationshio with barnes and noble..!

ive been strugling with this recent barnes and noble thing, the potential sale.  i knew something was coming but i didnt know it would be this quick.  honestly, i think that most people are overacting to the e-book revolution.  we're putting too much emphasis on e-books now in our store—which is to say that we are putting all our emphasis on ebooks.  i dont think that ebooks are in our future.  i know that barnes cannot support the superstore model that it has sustained for the last ten years.  we peeked as a viable business model in the early 2000s and now we are on the downside and have been for over five years.  but of course, its a combination of a lot of factors, ebooks being only a part of the problem.  

on a side note:  ive notced that all of the "buyers" of our electronnic book reader (the nook) are not "readers." these are fical consumers who dont read.  they believe like many many people that they should be reading.  even serious readers think about ways to increase their commitment to reading and this nook, the ebook reader, is being used by non-readers as a way to increase, or in some cases begin, their reading.  i think that this phenomenon is hilarious—zero regular customers are buying into this ebook thing...its only non-readers or non-barnes and noble customers who have never walked into our store before.  i cant help but think that these customers think that the reason they dont read is because there was always something inherently wrong with the physical book—and now thanks to technology, reading is now viable on a little computer screen.  

well, electronic books have their use and place—but we've had the technology for decades...its called a computer.  of course, tablets like the ipad are potentially more helpful than computers for "some" applications—but not for pure reading, not for pleasure reading.  the fact remains that its more enjoyable to read a physical book than an electronic one, for practical as well as emotional and other intangible reasons.  music is different.  we made the transformation to digital media years ago and the onset of the ipod and mp3s is just a natural progression.  listening to 20,000 high quality pieces of music on a device the size of a credit card is just better...again, for practical as well as emotional and other intangible reasons.  that transition made sense.  ebooks do not and anyone that says different is not a reader or a serious consumer of information.  

now, that said; i also believe that our culture is changing.  people just dont read as much as they used to.  i include so-called serious intellectuals in this group.  ive noticed that most news articles on google news include most of the pertinent info in the intital paragraph, that is, in the actual web link to the article.  i sometimes wonder why i bother clicking on some news article links because there is almost no additional information and if there is any additional pertinent info, its almost never more than a page—NEVER!  wow...what does this say about our culture in general.  of course, its possible to find all the information you need and more on the internet...but whats being peddled to the general populace is superficial, "lite" and totally compressed.

alright—to keep things in perspective; 99.9 percent of our cultural and social attention is focused on the general populace—the dear, sweet, lovable unwashed masses who hertofore, "in olden times," were completely ignored, largely because they had no disposable income.  we are still free in our society to read books until the cows come home, or until we go blind.  you can still find gobs of information on the internet if you make half the effort (i'm talking about serious scholarly information by so-called reputable sources—not bloggers posting their dietary habits).  the problem is that the current barnes and noble model, that of the three story superstore behemoth that has creeped up in the last 10 to 15 years, is focused on the general populace and their reading habits or lack thereof.  the market is saturated for this model and has been for over five years.  what we're seeing now is a correction in the market.  

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