Cornered in a Nook in Book and Toy Store

July 9, 2013

Yesterday evening I stopped at the local Barnes & Noble store. I wanted to ask a couple of the workers about the resignation of the Barnes & Noble CEO. I learned about this development in the story “Barnes & Noble CEO Resigns.” The main point of the story is that Barnes & Noble has not been able to make headway in a tough market. The article focused more specifically on the Nook eReader, pointing out:

Barnes & Noble has largely failed to adapt to the growing tablet and e-reader market. And although its Android-based Nook tablets have received decent reviews, they haven’t been selling very well.

When the Nook hit my radar, I wrote “The Nook Hook: Not Knowing What You Do Not Know.” I based my observation on my experience with manager from one business assuming that their expertise applies to another business. Technology often throws curve balls at folks who see nothing special about creating a high-tech gizmo or a software program.

Now back to my on site data collection. I asked the Nook sales person who was standing in the New York Times best seller section (not at the Nook counter), what do you think about the management shake up? The response, “What management shake up?” I moved to the check out lane to pay for a watch magazine I snagged. I asked, “What do you think of the management shake up?” The person responded, “What? Hey, are you a member of the discount club?” I replied, “Nope, I don’t need a toy store discount.” The young clerk looked confused. “Toy store?” he queried. I paid and left.

I concluded from this quite shallow research:

  1. News of the shake up did not reach the workers at my Barnes & Noble store
  2. I did not purchase a Barnes & Noble discount card because my local stores are more like card and knick knack shops than book stores I recall from my youth
  3. I was the only customer buying reading matter. There were several people in the snack shop looking at books and magazines.

Here in Louisville, Kentucky, the Nook has not sparked much interest in me. I fear for the future of my local Barnes & Noble. I am not sure an expanded book light section and a dwindling stock of actual books will kindle sales. Oops. Kindle is not a pun. No, really.

After the failure of the publisher of my New Landscape of Search, I have decided to make my monographs available directly from under the Beyond Search “brand.” Too bad that book stores and publishers assume that the old content world is easy to manage. MBAs are so darned confident. Perhaps a listen to the Harvard Business Review podcast will bolster the management acumen.

Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2013

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