Will There be Bookstores in 2021?

No, this obviously isn’t happening right now with virus cases, as expected, surging once again in most of the US and world. What happens in the next few months will give us all an idea of what to expect in 2021.

What I really want to talk about is bookstores. It was less than a decade ago that Borders closed its doors, mostly on account of e-books. Barnes and Noble and Books-A–Million (the two largest chains remaining in the US) have been struggling for years before the pandemic took customers out of stores. Half Price Books (my personal favorite) seems to be okay because if their doors are open, then they can buy books from the public.

Months ago I told my brother I thought JCPenney and Barnes and Noble would close for good. So far, I’ve been wrong. All the bookstores around me have been reopened since the spring. That doesn’t mean customers have returned or will be doing so. Though we can still buy online, there are lots of people unemployed or furloughed. Books may not be at the top of the list of needed items.

I’ve gotten this far and haven’t mentioned indies. They are probably the most likely to shut their doors during the pandemic. They can’t host author events and even when open, customers may not return.

Recently I was thinking to myself about Half Price Books not having their 20% storewide or coupon week promotions. If you’re familiar, then you know both of these promotions bring in lots of customers over several days. They’ve moved their sales to their website, which isn’t my preference. I was thinking to myself about the few dollars I could be saving if they’d had their promotions. But what’s important is that they’re able to survive (along with all the bookstores around). That won’t happen, but at least they’re still fighting, like many in the country.

To answer my own question, yes I think there will be bookstores next year. The real question is how many.

Why Does Wal Mart Sell Books?

Serious question. I can name one person off the top of my head who I know buys books fairly regularly from Wal Mart. I’ve definitely done my share of browsing the books at Wal Mart, but my memory tells me I’ve never actually bought a book from there. I usually just look to see if I know which books they’ll have in stock without even thinking about it.

If I set up my tripod near the books and threw Harry’s invisibility cloak over the top of it I’d see just how few people actually stop to take a look at them. I own something like 250 books. But when I think of Wal Mart I think of groceries, essentials, and TVs.

I’ve bought books from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, Half Price Books, Murder by the Book in Houston, and the Wal Mart website. We have so many options at this point that I just don’t see any benefit for a grocery store to sell such a limited number of books. They sell mega bestselling new releases and ultra popular older ones. The problem is that just about anyone who’d be interested in buying these particular books has bought them elsewhere.

Also, Target does a MUCH better job with their books than Wal Mart does. Better titles and better selection in every store I’ve been in. But still, I haven’t bought from there either.

My question still stands. Why does Wal Mart sell books? 

Don’t Call it a Bookstore

Have you ever walked into a bookstore, saw something, and thought, “They sell THAT here?”.I have, though after actually working in one for a year I’m not as impressed with these types of things. But now Barnes and Noble is really trying to change the game.

I’m sure during your college days either recently or long ago you at some point found your way into your university bookstore. I did, though I only bought my books from mine my first semester and then turned to rentals (which you should too!). The bookstore at my school mostly reminded me of CVS. Lots of snacks. Notebooks. School supplies. University apparel. Just basic stuff. And then overpriced textbooks.

But the company behind most college bookstores is adding a new twist. Makeup. LOTS of makeup. I mean, I’ve walked into a Sephora once. It was madness. Imagine a mini Sephora type section of your college bookstore. Imagine all the teens and twenty-somethings in there. To me beauty is what you want it to be. If it’s wearing makeup, then great. If it’s not, then great. But I just read a little bit about sales numbers for makeup in the last year. Yikes. That’s a lot of money. Can’t blame BN for trying to stay relevant on college campuses.

Next up we’ll offer haircuts right next to the fruit snacks 

Makeup in college bookstores? What do you think? 

Everyone Thinks They Know What you Want to Read

As readers we are constantly bombarded with book recommendations. Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Goodreads. PEOPLE. That random guy in the bookstore who saw you glancing at that book on President Reagan. Book bloggers. The list never ends.

And now there’s a new player in the game. Shelfjoy. Which is so pointless it makes me laugh. Shelfjoy is absolutely no different than any other recommendation you’ve ever gotten. It recommends books based on topics you’ve already shown an interest in. Which is exactly what every other site or person does because obviously if you’re interested in a particular title, then you MUST be interested in what I think is “similar”.

They claim every book is hand-curated, but my understanding is it amounts to a bunch of lists on different topics. It isn’t creative. It isn’t groundbreaking. And it isn’t new. And it’s only available on Facebook Messenger, so there’s that. I think you can send them a message and they reply with a book for you to read. How grand. 

I’m convinced every book recommendation is someone somewhere trying to infiltrate my brain. What do you think?

BN set to Sell Self Published Books….What!?

Barnes and Noble has made a pretty significant decision. They’ve decided to sell self published books in their stores. It’s quite the turnaround for the company. I know from personal experience. When I self published my book three years ago I went into my local BN store inquiring about the potential to sell my book there. They obviously said no. But now, hmm.

The shift in policy comes with some fairly hefty requirements. First, the book must be self published through Nook Press. Which is BN’s self publishing arm, but definitely not a favorite of any author I’ve interacted with because the Kindle and iBooks have all but killed the Nook. I’m not sure if they require exclusivity, but I can’t imagine it being beneficial to only sell your book on Nook. The Nook is dead. Plain and simple.

Second, the company requires the titles to sell a certain number of copies in either print or digital formats. It’s 500 for one format and 1000 for the other. If your book meets the sales requirements and has been published through Nook Press, then hooray! You could have your book on a shelf at a BN store. But remember that their shelf space is extremely limited and sought after. There’s no guarantee here.

What do you think of BN deciding to give some self published authors the opportunity to sell their books in their stores. I’m not particularly optimistic. I think the sales numbers are the absolute bottom, but I imagine an author having sell many more copies of their books to actually reach the shelf.

Barnes and Noble not What I Remember

I recently walked inside my local Barnes and Noble for the first time in several years. And it simply isn’t the same as I remember it.

The shelves give off the impression that they don’t want to fill them. There are books faced out all over the place. There is space available on a good chunk of the shelves. And most titles had but one copy on the shelf, except for the BN Classics and Shakespeare.

Couple those things with their announcement to start serving alcohol in four new stores starting this year, and it isn’t so hard to believe the company’s financial troubles. Too many poor decisions are being made right now.

I suppose I could be overgeneralizing based on the one store I visited, but I imagine most BN stores are pretty similar.

Have you noticed anything different in your local store?

Amazon Set to Open how Many Bookstores?

Y’all should know by now that Amazon opened its first brick and mortar bookstore just recently in Seattle. They claimed to use their years of online book selling to create the best of both online and in-store shopping.

Now we’re hearing about more stores on the way. This isn’t surprising in itself until you hear the number of stores they’re preparing to open. I’ll give you a minute to guess because I imagine you’re original guess will be just as good as mine.

Ready?

Reports have surfaced claiming Amazon is preparing to open 300-400 bookstores. Am I surprised they’re looking to expand their bookstore presence into other cities? No. Am I surprised by the number of stores they’re looking to open? Yes. Very much so.

A little perspective on that number. Barnes and Noble is easily the big man on campus when it comes to bookstores in the United States. They operate more than 600 stores. Then we have Books-A-Million at more than 200 stores. And I believe Half Price Books comes in third at over 100 stores. Amazon would jump right to the second spot. And I think they’d mostly damage Books-A-Million. Why? Well Half Price Books is a completely different kind of bookstore. They’ve weathered the move to digital and back to print very well. Barnes and Noble has huge stores with Starbucks coffee and tens of thousands of books, and their print business has remained profitable for some time even while the Nook threatened the existence of the entire company. Yes, it was that bad. And Books-A-Million is REALLY struggling. There have been rumors for some time that the company may go private. They’ve also started directly competing with Half Price Books with their 2nd and Charles store.

Amazon looking to open more of its bookstores isn’t all that surprising to me. It gives more people the opportunity to try out their devices before buying AND it gives them a chance to increase their market share. I think the move will be successful, but I think both Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books will be just fine. Books-A-Million cannot like this news one bit.

What do you think of Amazon potentially opening 300-400 more bookstores? My main thought is for them to put one near me! Hehe.

Books Bought in 2015

I was planning on writing this post at the beginning of the year, but sometimes blogging is a constantly changing task. So I’ve been posting about other things in the meantime. But now we’re here and ready to go.

2015 was the first year in which I tracked my book purchases. It makes sense if you really think about it. I have all of my books on a list in Word. I have all of the authors in an Excel spreadsheet. I have a list of the best books I’ve read. And I track how much time I spend reading. So it makes sense for me to track the number of books I buy.

I’d intended to include all of the books here, but I won’t do that. I’ll just give you some highlights instead.

I bought 37 books in 2015.

25 were bought from Half Price Books.

5 were bought from Amazon.

1 was bought from Barnes and Noble.

And Harry Potter books 3-7 were bought from a girl on an app.

7 books were new. The rest were used.

The average price of the books I bought was $3.74.

The most expensive book was The Strain at $9.34.

There were several I bought for $1.50.

Of the books bought in 2015, I’ve now read 9 of them. Welp.

That’s it. Feel free to ask me about particular titles or anything. But what I want to know is which books you bought in 2015 and how much you spent. Unless it’s $921 and you’re embarrassed. Then I understand. Ha!

Goodreads Named THIS Book the Top Fiction Novel of the Year?

Every year Goodreads has its annual Goodreads Choice Awards. They’re voted on by users of the site in a number of categories. There are several rounds of voting to come up with the eventual winners.

I have a Goodreads account, but I don’t use it. The site serves no purpose because I track all my reading on my own, and I don’t care what others are reading or about their recommendations. But I saw the top fiction book and had to talk about it.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Uh, what?

What a joke. The book has a rating of 3.34 on Goodreads. 3.4 on Amazon. 3.8 on Barnes and Noble’s website. So I’m struggling to see how this book has been named as the top fiction book of the year. The math doesn’t really add up. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy going on, but I’m just not seeing where all these people who voted for it have been. Or if they read the same book as everyone else.

Am I the only person who thinks this is a little odd?