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Why Can’t Barnes and Nobels Compete With Amazon?

June 15, 2010

What I’m wondering is, why can’t Barnes and Nobles (never mind the floundering Borders) afford to price their books similarly to the range of cheapness that Amazon offers? On Sunday I bought a hardcover edition of The Hunger Games (which was released in 2008) from B&N for around $17.99–Amazon offers it for $9.78. Yes, of course Amazon has a few things to its advantage (not requiring books to be immediately in stock, not having store locations), and certainly I’m not, in an age when the publishing industry is crying in its sleep, practically sobbing all over its snotty, scratchy sweater, suggesting that they should reap less money, or that the situation should force independent bookstores to wither into insignificance but, I am truly curious to know, what is my incentive as a customer to buy from you? Unless I need it RIGHT NOW, or unless the needle of my morality compass is wavering to the right, what is my incentive? If a book has not been marked down since its release, and costs the same as its 2009 sequel, then what is wrong with publishing? Today I spend my money on you because doesn’t the author deserve it and oh my goodness the book is SO GOOD even though I know I should be reading ‘finer’ stuff like Citrus County, the latest book in The Rumpus Book Club…But what about tomorrow?

By the way, my question isn’t rhetorical. Anyone who understands the business, pray tell. Because if more bookstores were ‘reasonable’ in price, I’d acquiesce. Is my argument an unreasonable one, and why?  Not to mention, how can bookstores compete with the beast that is Amazon? If Amazon=Costco, then where’s the Whole Foods of booksellers?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2010 2:45 pm

    It’s even more ridiculous than that. Barnes and Nobles stores have higher prices than BarnesandNoble.com, and they will not match the online price in store, even when I asked.

    This says to me that they WANT their stores to lose money.

  2. July 1, 2010 9:24 pm

    huh, seems ridiculous, eh? I’d really like to get into the heads of their business execs…

    Thanks for commenting!

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