It’s no secret that bookstores have had a tough decade. Independent shops have struggled. Behemoths like Borders shuttered. And every other day someone publishes a think piece about the imminent demise of the book industry. In response, bookstores have tried to become increasingly creative about the ways they make money. Their shelf space has shrunk, and instead of books, they try to sell music. Board games. Coffee.
But sales have still slipped.
With all of this happening, Barnes & Noble has chosen to do something extraordinary. The chain plans to sell more books.
This shift in strategy has occurred in tandem with Barnes & Noble’s release of some recent sales figures; the company lost $30 million for the second quarter. This was the third month in a row that the bookseller saw a decline in sales.
Sales fell for primarily for the non-book items that the company sells – anyone who has stepped inside one of their bookstores will likely remember the rows and rows of calendars, games, greeting cards, and occasionally, music – but to no one’s surprise, readers are still buying books. In fact, Demos Parneros, the fourth and most recent Barnes & Noble CEO in as many years, noted that “book sales continued to strengthen…[so] we will continue to place a greater emphasis on books, while further narrowing our non-book assortment.”
Hopefully coming home to books will work out for Barnes & Noble. The prodigal bookseller may not be the optimal book buying experience for many, but it is our bookseller, darn it. And in many places, it is the only physical bookstore around.
I can’t be disappointed that Barnes & Noble is returning to sell more books. What can I say? I’m selfish like that. If my local shop devotes more shelf spaces to books, I won’t weep.