Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Do Bookstores Need Cafes?



I walked into a new Barnes and Noble store in my old Upper East Side neighborhood the other day. It had relocated from a block away. That other store had years earlier also moved from a block away. Its nomadic existence symbolizes the book world, to a degree.

It reduced its footprint by a good two-thirds and it eliminated its best feature — the cafe.

Bookstores, at their core, sell books. That is all that is needed. But they often now sell swag and toys, and many have cafes. They make extra money for the store from those who were shopping for books, but they also can be items that people chose to come to the store for.

Smaller stores means less choice for readers but it also removes that burdensome feel one gets when entering a warehouse-sized bookstore. I realize that I can only consume a tiny fraction of the books on display, of which represent only a tiny fraction of all the books that exist.

If the Barnes and Noble approach is to open smaller stores but to increase their number of stores, I am all for it. However, I am concerned that there was no space for authors to come speak and do a book signing. That is problematic.

Bookstores not only store books awaiting consumption, but rather they are discovery zones that can help amplify the voice of authors. They provide a platform from which authors can elevate themselves.

The store felt like it lacked a personality. It was a sterile environment. Bookstores should be lively, offering help and providing opportunities to hear authors.  And I could have used a cafe!

Barnes and Noble has cycled through a number of failed CEOs this past decade. They made numerous mistakes as amazon grew, ebooks exploded, and indie bookstores sprouted all over the place. Their gross revenue appears to be about a third of what it was a decade ago.

But that is the past. What will be the future?

I hope it is to consist of bookstores with a cafe and room for authors to speak.

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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on www.linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2024. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.9 million pageviews. With 4,900+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by www.WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and director of publicity positions at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America several years ago, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, Morgan James Publishing, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. His first published book was The Florida Homeowner, Condo, & Co-Op Association Handbook.  It was featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald.

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