Autumn on Lake Thoreau

Autumn on Lake Thoreau

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The wrong goodbye of Barnes and Noble

Most Restonians are saddened, some even angered, by the planned closing of the Barnes and Noble (BandN) bookstore in Town Center in the weeks ahead.   Except for the now 35-year old used book store at Lake Anne plaza, Reston--in the heart of the so-called "knowledge corridor"--will have no bookstores.  This after BandN drove out the independent Little Professor bookstore at Reston's North Point Center with its arrival some two decades ago.

Reston shares the loss of its BandN with metropolises and small towns across the country.  Indeed, the departure of BandN elsewhere follows the company's expansion, as in Reston, into ever smaller communities and driving out independent bookstores. 

And yet, as Dennis Johnson--the publisher of Melville House books--points out in a post entitled, "The wrong goodbye of Barnes and Noble," there is a very good reason for this:  Nearsighted, overwhelming greed.  As he writes it:
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about all this is the fact that, as with the demise of Borders, the demise of B&N has nothing to do with what its customers actually wanted, what’s best for mother literature or free speech, or anything other than made-up trends covering for killer capitalism. There’s still plenty of evidence that people like bookstores, for example, and even sales of hardcovers — let alone print books — are holding on. And so the lust for higher margins — whether from Godiva chocolates or ebooks — turned into fool’s gold for BandN.  It’s perhaps a typical death in the Free Trade era, when companies lose all sight of their identity in the blinding light of the bottom line … but it’s the wrong death for a bookseller.
The lengthy article notes that BandN's bookstore closings combined with Borders shutdown will mean the number of bookstores in the country will be reduced by nearly half.  And he highlights, based on work done by the New York Times, that the loss of bookstores actually leads also to reduced digital book sales.  

The article is a good read and it helps explain why even a busy bookstore like our own BandN is falling by the wayside.

1 comment:

  1. Knowledge of what? How to do the bourgeois jig?

    Good riddance to the corporate box! Support the independents in the District now.

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are welcome and encouraged as long as they are relevant, constructive, and decent.