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VGrossack
11-22-2006, 10:47 PM
Below are some excerpts from an article in The Motley Fool (by Alyce Lomax) about Barnes & Noble, which lost money in the 3rd Q. Booksellers - the chains as well as the independents - are having a very tough time.

Victoria Grossack
www.tapestryofbronze.com (http://www.tapestryofbronze.com)


If you consult our Fool by Numbers for the quarter, you'll see Barnes & Noble reported a loss of $2.8 million, or $0.04 per share, including $0.03 per share in stock option expense. Sales increased 3% to $1.11 billion. Same-store sales rose 2%, with B. Dalton being a trouble spot due to store closures.
The major theme in Barnes & Noble's conference call was its decision to further lower prices on adult hardcover books in its membership program. "We believe that giving ... some of the margin gains that we have realized back to our customers is a good long-term strategy," CEO Steve Riggio said.


Indeed. It's not lost on anyone that this is a hyper-competitive business these days. There's Borders (NYSE: BGP (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q?s=bgp&d=t) - News (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q/h?s=bgp)), as well as discount book chain Books-A-Million (Nasdaq: BAMM (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q?s=bamm&d=t) - News (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q/h?s=bamm)). And of course there's another giant in books and music -- Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q?s=amzn&d=t) - News (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q/h?s=amzn)), with its discounted prices and wide selection. Personally, I buy most of my books and music through Amazon or Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q?s=aapl&d=t) - News (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/finance/fool/bs_fool/storytext/116404771621/21010101/*http:/finance.yahoo.com/q/h?s=aapl)) iTunes, and I'm betting lots of people do the same -- these days, the ease with which people can obtain media online shouldn't be underestimated. And speaking of margins, Amazon's made a major bid for repeat patronage with its Amazon Prime program, a considerable act of aggression in the industry that helps persuade its customers to frequent its online store with its cut-rate shipping.

However, Barnes & Noble's new emphasis on price-busting bears watching as it tries to drive higher growth in such a competitive space -- investors are going to want to see how well it does achieving higher sales volume and how that impacts profitability. It seems to me this is a good time to grab a book and wait awhile for Barnes & Noble.

Shadow_Ferret
11-22-2006, 11:05 PM
Competition is good for the consumer. Brings prices down.

You can buy books from Apple Ipod? Dead tree type or is it some stupid electronic version of the book?

sassandgroove
11-22-2006, 11:09 PM
I buy most of my books and music through Amazon or Apple's iTunesI think it meant books from Amazon and music from Apple iTunes. That's how i read it.

ChaosTitan
11-22-2006, 11:10 PM
Barnes & Noble is not the only retailer suffering right now. The company I work for is struggling very hard to keep above water, and so are many of our competitors.

Get out there and spend some money, people! ;)

Shadow_Ferret
11-22-2006, 11:12 PM
I always buy my books from Barnes and Noble. Never from Amazon. I'm an impulse book buyer and like to look at the cover, read the blurbs, and read the first few pages. I can't do that on Amazon. I can't look at a shelf of books and select the one that catches my eye at Amazon.

Although I did buy one of Cathy C's books on Amazon because I couldn't find it locally.

sassandgroove
11-22-2006, 11:18 PM
I agree, amazon works better if you are shopping for something specific. My husband and I go to Books A Million weekly. (Barnes & Noble is across town.) In fact, we went to Barnes & Noble this weekend because Books A Million didn't have a book Mr. Groove wanted. Of course, once there, we bought three books. ( well, he got the one he wanted, and i got two. :D)
Ray's book was bought for me on Amazon. I was going to ask BAM to order it for me, but someone bought it for me off my Amazon wish list before I could.

KiwiChick
11-23-2006, 06:17 AM
I always buy my books from Barnes and Noble. Never from Amazon. I'm an impulse book buyer and like to look at the cover, read the blurbs, and read the first few pages. I can't do that on Amazon. I can't look at a shelf of books and select the one that catches my eye at Amazon.


Actually, you often can look at both covers and the first few pages on Amazon now. True, you can't stroll down beside a shelf and look for the book with the pretty cover, but Amazon's good at recommending a list of books similar to those you've bought before, which can be a good way of browsing.

Shadow_Ferret
11-23-2006, 07:19 AM
Actually, you often can look at both covers and the first few pages on Amazon now. True, you can't stroll down beside a shelf and look for the book with the pretty cover, but Amazon's good at recommending a list of books similar to those you've bought before, which can be a good way of browsing.

I've tried that. It's just not the same. And their recommendation lists serve me no good. Just because I like one thriller author doesn't mean I like all thriller authors. Just because I like one urban fantasy, doesn't mean I'll like all urban fantasies. I'm very odd that way. The same goes for the recommendations I get from Netflix. They have no bearing on my real tastes. I'm odd that way I guess.

And I do so love to browse at the bookstore. Online can never replace that.

CBeasy
11-23-2006, 08:11 AM
I with Ferret. I totally love bookstores. I also have very eclectic taste, so its cool to be able to browse from section to section, and see what strikes me as interesting. Also, its just plain cool to be around all those books. Out of all the chain stores, I think I like Books-A-Million the best. To me, they're just set up better, and they have better prices for certain stuff, even their coffee is cheaper.

David McAfee
11-23-2006, 09:34 AM
I've tried that. It's just not the same. And their recommendation lists serve me no good. Just because I like one thriller author doesn't mean I like all thriller authors. Just because I like one urban fantasy, doesn't mean I'll like all urban fantasies. I'm very odd that way. The same goes for the recommendations I get from Netflix. They have no bearing on my real tastes. I'm odd that way I guess.

And I do so love to browse at the bookstore. Online can never replace that.

There are points to be made for both. I like Amazon because they always have what I am looking for. This is great, as long as I have something specific in mind. But how many of us just like to look through the books in Waldenbooks, Borders, B&N, etc, and just browse the covers until one catches our eye? Lots of us, I bet. Ferret's right, the reccommend feature on Amazon just ain't the same.

'course, I hardly ever shop at Borders or any of the other big stores anymore. Knoxville, TN is home to a place called McKay's Used Books. It's the size of a Wal mart and filled to bursting with books. I can almost always find what I want there for...oh...$2 or so (like most of my Stephen King hardcovers, for example).

scottVee
11-25-2006, 10:57 PM
I bought one book from Amazon and 3 from Barnes & Noble this week. Accidentally went to B&N on the busiest shopping day of the year. While I like real bookstores, it's a drag when they don't have what I want. And since I usually want reference books on science & history, I'm disappointed often. But for fiction, or a map of the Bahamas, B&N usually does it. Borders is 10 miles down the road and has an even smaller science section. You can certainly scan a shelf of real books faster than a website for "something of interest", but the web is faster for specific titles, and has all those reviews ...

Basically, I need to take a sleeping bag to the university library and melt my brain entirely.

mysterygrl
11-25-2006, 11:55 PM
'course, I hardly ever shop at Borders or any of the other big stores anymore. Knoxville, TN is home to a place called McKay's Used Books. It's the size of a Wal mart and filled to bursting with books. I can almost always find what I want there for...oh...$2 or so (like most of my Stephen King hardcovers, for example).

Used bookstores are a great place to find out-of-print books. I've also occasionally purchased a used book to try out an unfamiliar author.

But something to keep in mind: Authors don't make a dime on used or remaindered book sales. I know many of us can't afford to buy new all the time or even once in a while, but I think it's important to support our fellow authors when we can. (Of course, Stephen King already has plenty of support. I'm speaking primarily of newer authors.)

My favorite place to go is my local independent bookstore. The folks who work there are marvelous. They love books and are happy to share their recommendations. (And I hope one day to have a signing there!)

The library, of course, is free to all. And by requesting books and checking them out, you're also supporting your fellow authors.

I don't mean to start a debate on new books vs. used, or criticize anyone's choices. Just dishing out some food for thought.

Tallymark
11-26-2006, 01:33 AM
"You save 40% on hardcover bestsellers, 20% on all other adult hardcovers, and 10% on everything else except gift cards. This includes the cafe, magazines, and music sections. If you end up buying five hardcover books with your card, you've essentially paid for the card!"

There, there's one of my shpeels when I work the register. :D I don't know how it's impacted sales company-wide, but I do know that the new benefits has helped with membership sales in my particular store. I know a lot of people turn their noses when they hear its a paid membership, but it's actually an extremely good deal (assuming you like to spend a certain amount on books, of course). I'd get one if I didn't have an employee discount (which the membership deal is rapidly approaching). One card applies to the whole family, so if your family tends to spend around $20 a month in the store, or if they like to pick up their favorite authors in hardcover, the card is paid for very quickly, and then all your savings are perks. Or if you're just making a really damn big christmas purchase--I'll get people coming in who're spending easily $300 at once on christmas gifts, and I'm like, for the love of god buy the card--you'll save so much on this one purchase that it's free. (what's weird is how many people still say no. O.o ).

Also, if you give us your email address when you join--which we never, ever sell or distribute to anybody, ever (and we don't send daily junks, either)--we'll email you coupons that you can print out and take to the store. Coupons!

There, have I sold anybody yet? :D

And much love to anybody who still shops in a bookstore. ^_^ I still love the simple pleasure of browsing a bookshelf and spotting a brand new gem. It's just not the same online. I get stuff online when I know its out of print, mostly.

JeanneTGC
11-27-2006, 10:35 AM
We go to bookstores at least once a week, usually Borders or B&N, but not only those. We have both the Borders Rewards card (which is free and earns you money to spend at Christmas time but saves you nothing at that time of purchase) and the B&N Members card (which, as Tallymark said, costs money, but if you go to B&N as much as we do, it pays for itself AND you can use it in the cafe, too!).

I only purchase books from Amazon that I can't find locally (out of print I couldn't track down at a local used bookstore or books that neither Borders nor B&N can get but Amazon can), unless Amazon has some amazing sale and free shipping. Because we live in a big city, I just refuse to pay to ship something I can drive less than 5 minutes to find in a shop right here.

We love bookstores. Our family's idea of a hot night out is to go to dinner and then go hang in the bookstore (which, come to think of it, we did tonight...we LIVE, baby!). We have been known to hit B&N and Borders both 3+ times in one week (that would be 6+ visits total). We are firmly with Ferret -- we want to touch, feel, look around at what's new, browse for something that'll catch our eyes, curl up with a cuppa and look through a magazine or the book we want someone else to buy for us.

I'd never have found "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" by James Lileks, which I consider to be the funniest book I have read in a decade, maybe ever, on Amazon. I don't read cookbooks, and that's where it was in our Borders (it's in Humor at our B&N). I was browsing for a gift -- got a copy for my friend AND for me. We both love and re-read that book all the time. No recommendation online, no cover viewing, could have sold me like opening the book at random, reading a bit, and then laughing so hard I disturbed half the store.

Bookstores, bookstores, all the way! (I promise to run out this week again and buy from B&N, just to help keep them afloat. No need to thank me, it's just the kind of girl I am.)

LeslieB
11-27-2006, 04:32 PM
We have both the Borders Rewards card (which is free and earns you money to spend at Christmas time but saves you nothing at that time of purchase) and the B&N Members card (which, as Tallymark said, costs money, but if you go to B&N as much as we do, it pays for itself AND you can use it in the cafe, too!).

Actually, while the Borders Rewards card doesn't save you money by itself, almost every week I have a shiny new coupon show up in my email. Sometimes the discount beats Amazon's price, and I can go indulge myself with a too-expensive-to-pay-shelf-price book. When the discount is lower, I use the coupon to save money on books for my kids, or an impulse novel.

I do order from Amazon a lot, but it has gotten to where I order more DVDs or CDs from them than books. They usually have a really good price compared to a retail store, and those are more likely to be gifts or considered purchases, rather than impulse buys like my books.

SherryTex
11-27-2006, 07:10 PM
Admit, I do Borders and Amazon a lot --why, because Borders is near my kids pre-school and there is a starbucks next door, I buy a book. I buy a hot chocolate, I sit....aaaahhhhhhhhhh. I'm almost there right now. For gifts, my standard is a gift card to Borders and a birthday balloon--kids have enough stuff these days, this way it might possibly be a book, parents are grateful for this instant present and no wrapping.

I buy tons of stuff for Christmas using Amazon, it just makes life much simpler when family is all over. Buy books like candy --just like Dad.

Silver King
11-28-2006, 05:28 AM
Barnes & Noble reported a loss of $2.8 million, or $0.04 per share, including $0.03 per share in stock option expense. Sales increased 3% to $1.11 billion. Same-store sales rose 2%, with B. Dalton being a trouble spot due to store closures.
There isn't a business model in existence that would consider this a "loss." It's the equivalent of saying you "lost" 2.5 thousandths of a penny based on $1100 in sales. Meanwhile, all of the company's expenses were covered, including salaries, overhead, costs for expansion, etc.

Loss my eye...

Del
11-29-2006, 06:26 AM
It seems to be popular these days to claim a loss if you haven't met the same INCREASE IN PROFFIT as compared to a previous month or year. No one is content to just make it.

Spend more! seems to be the preferred fix. The thing is, with chains most of the money goes into only a few pockets so it doesn't really benefit the economy.

B & N's loss is likely just the paperwork. If you open a new store it cannot absorb its own expense for some time so on paper the company shows a loss, but it is an investment that is expected to pay off or it wouldn't have been done. If we got it the same way their accountants do I doubt we would hold any sympathy for them.

Does anyone have any actual numbers on book sales over the last few years? I expect it is fairly stable.

VGrossack
11-29-2006, 04:42 PM
I found Delarege's post interesting - the idea that Barnes & Noble might not actually be losing money. I have not gone through their numbers with a fine-toothed comb, but I expect that they are. First of all, accountants who work for a company will make adjustments where they can to show a profit, not a loss. Second, if you look at the industry - even the posts on this thread - you will see reasons for B&N to be in trouble. The industry is extremely competitive. Many people prefer to buy their books on line, even going so far as to shop at a bookstore, and then to go home and buy their books elsewhere (not the way to endear yourself to your local bookstore manager, should you ever need him/her). In addition, more places for selling books are cropping up every day - and often with far less overhead than B&N. Yet the market can't be growing substantially - people don't generally have more time to read than they did before. There's more competition for reading time than there ever was (for example, instead of reading, right now I'm posting at AW).

The other thing that surprises me from some of the posts above is that a number of people actually feel *sorry* for B&N! Why? This chain has been ruthless and competitive itself, forcing many independent bookstores to close their doors. Remember the film "You've Got Mail" - it was based on an event that was happening over and over around the country. Now it's B&N's turn to be threatened.

Victoria Grossack
www.tapestryofbronze.com

Christine N.
11-29-2006, 05:36 PM
I'd wait to see what the numbers look like after this year's holiday shopping season is over.

There's a reason they call it Black Friday - because most businesses lose money most of the year, and make it up during the last month. The day after T-giving is the day when they can start using black ink (profit) instead of red (loss)

JeanneTGC
11-29-2006, 08:02 PM
The other thing that surprises me from some of the posts above is that a number of people actually feel *sorry* for B&N! Why? This chain has been ruthless and competitive itself, forcing many independent bookstores to close their doors. Remember the film "You've Got Mail" - it was based on an event that was happening over and over around the country. Now it's B&N's turn to be threatened.

Victoria Grossack
www.tapestryofbronze.com (http://www.tapestryofbronze.com)

Not only does B&N employ people -- who are likely to be let go to help the bottom line -- but they STOCK BOOKS. I sure don't want a major bookstore to go under, or close up shops, because that means there are going to be LESS places for me to sell MY books (thinking positively here). If there are less places to sell my books, then that makes it that much harder for me to find a publisher FOR my books. If there is less demand from publishers for books, then it will be that much harder to find an AGENT for my books.

When major businesses are in trouble, it affects all of us, whether we realize it or not. It affects communities as well as those buying and selling into those businesses. It's not a reason to cheer, any more than it's a reason to cheer if Blockbuster, or another large chain, starts having problems.

Del
11-29-2006, 08:11 PM
First of all, accountants who work for a company will make adjustments where they can to show a profit, not a loss.

Ordinarily, yes. However, look at the fuel companies. They seem to create a false loss for the justification of raising prices. I don't know. I'm not a business man. I'm just cynical of big business.

Someday Microsoft, Sony and Exxon are going to own the world and I'll be looking for the nearest exit.

I miss the friendly, small private businesses of my youth. If I could find a way to go back I would.

ChaosTitan
11-29-2006, 08:16 PM
When major businesses are in trouble, it affects all of us, whether we realize it or not. It affects communities as well as those buying and selling into those businesses. It's not a reason to cheer, any more than it's a reason to cheer if Blockbuster, or another large chain, starts having problems.

Ding, ding, ding! Thank you, Jeanne.

I work for a retail corporation that is struggling big time. I am an assistant store manager, so I work at peon level. I feel the effects of the profit loss. B&N employees will feel the effects of the profit loss (meaning = unemployment). Let's not celebrate my or their hardship.

Del
11-29-2006, 08:16 PM
Not only does B&N employ people -- who are likely to be let go to help the bottom line -- but they STOCK BOOKS. I sure don't want a major bookstore to go under, or close up shops, because that means there are going to be LESS places for me to sell MY books (thinking positively here). If there are less places to sell my books, then that makes it that much harder for me to find a publisher FOR my books. If there is less demand from publishers for books, then it will be that much harder to find an AGENT for my books.

When major businesses are in trouble, it affects all of us, whether we realize it or not. It affects communities as well as those buying and selling into those businesses. It's not a reason to cheer, any more than it's a reason to cheer if Blockbuster, or another large chain, starts having problems.

Lots of good points but commerce runs on supply and demand. Any needs will be filled. Any excess will be eliminated. Any inconvenience will be temporary.

sassandgroove
11-29-2006, 08:26 PM
Delarege, I just sent you a rep point with a typo! Yikes. Oh well, I think you'll figure it out.


It's not a reason to cheer, any more than it's a reason to cheer if Blockbuster, or another large chain, starts having problems.The reason blockbuster is having trouble is becuase times change. It is an age old story. A successful company doesn't change with the times, and its success wanes. The reason Netflix is successful, it takes all the hassels out, you don't have to schlep to the store, you don't have to stand there and take hours to decide, becuase they didn't have the one you wanted, and you don't have to schlep back there to return it only to get a late fee anyway (I went to return a tape before the deadline and the next time I rented a movie, they said I returned it late. No, you scanned it late...). And the Netflix incentive to return the disc is a new one will be sent out. It is &#%*in' brillant! I don't even have netflix, and I haven't been to Blockbuster in forever. We buy a lot of DVD's and we have DirectTV, what's the point?

VGrossack
11-29-2006, 08:31 PM
Ordinarily, yes. However, look at the fuel companies. They seem to create a false loss for the justification of raising prices. I don't know. I'm not a business man. I'm just cynical of big business.

I miss the friendly, small private businesses of my youth. If I could find a way to go back I would.

I think there's an enormous difference between the fuel companies and the bookselling industry. The fuel companies are trying to reduce the amount of their profits in order to reduce their taxes (as well as to justify increasing prices). There's a big difference between showing a smaller profit and actually showing a loss. I believe that the accountants at B&N have not manipulated their numbers to make them look worse, because there seems, to me at least, to be plenty to explain why B&N is having problems. Look at the big discounts on their books. They are not raising prices. (But I'm interested to know what will happen in the 4th Q, as Christine pointed out above.)

Great for the consumer, of course, at least in the short run. Tough on the industry, or at least a part of the industry.

Victoria Grossack
www.tapestryofbronze.com (http://www.tapestryofbronze.com)

Lissa
11-29-2006, 08:40 PM
Not only does B&N employ people -- who are likely to be let go to help the bottom line -- but they STOCK BOOKS.

Yes! Yes! Ok...let me back up a step. First off, I am partial to B&N. After all, they've been putting food on my table for better than 10 years. My husband began as a receiving manager and has moved up to having managed huge stores for the company. So, I am biased.

That said, I would like to mention that these people that B&N employs are often just as passionate about selling your books as you. A bookstore can do amazing things when the staff gets behind a book. Most of these people read, a lot. They work there because they love books. My husband used to talk about the satisfaction he got from placing the right book in someone's hand. I have seen him and his staff personally hand-sell books for local authors because it's what they love to do. They deserve a bit more than cheers when their livelyhood is potentially in jeopardy.

Now, B&N's loss is probably not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things for the corporation. I don't think they are going to fold anytime soon. But I certainly would not be glad to see them, or any other bookstore, go under.

Del
11-29-2006, 08:51 PM
We buy a lot of DVD's and we have DirectTV, what's the point?

I didn't have a TV for over a year. I buy DVDs and watch them on the laptop.


Delarege, I just sent you a rep point with a typo! Yikes. Oh well, I think you'll figure it out.

Thanks! Uh, what are they for?

Del
11-29-2006, 09:04 PM
Now, B&N's loss is probably not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things for the corporation. I don't think they are going to fold anytime soon. But I certainly would not be glad to see them, or any other bookstore, go under.

Just so it is understood, I'm not cheering. I don't want B&N to suffer even a small loss. I understand the personal value the store has to me and many others.

I don't share any immediate concern (also, this thread is all I know about it) because I'm confidant that a problem will be fixed, they aren't going any where anytime soon and books will sell today as well as they did yesterday.

I don't want to see any business go under. I still miss American Motors. I don't wish poverty on anyone that relies on a company for a paycheck. But I do understand sometimes, when things aren't working, adjustments need to be made to prevent a worse situation. It's just, they aren't going to fix it until they see it is broken.

sassandgroove
11-29-2006, 09:16 PM
I didn't have a TV for over a year. I buy DVDs and watch them on the laptop.



Thanks! Uh, what are they for?
Click on USERCP, it is in the bar at the top. It shows threads you've posted in that have been recently updated, and allows you to update you profile, etc, and it also has nice things people have said to you if they particularly liked a post. A rep point. I don't know what they are for except to be nice to each other.

And let me know how that deal on Jupiter works out.

Lissa
11-29-2006, 09:18 PM
Just so it is understood, I'm not cheering.

I didn't think that you were. My post wasn't specifically directed at you or any other individual, more at the general idea that it is somehow not as bad when a big corporation crashes as it is when smaller merchants close up shop.

Del
11-29-2006, 09:23 PM
I didn't think that you were. My post wasn't specifically directed at you or any other individual, more at the general idea that it is somehow not as bad when a big corporation crashes as it is when smaller merchants close up shop.

Not an accusation, Lissa. Just covering my butt. :D It wouldn't be the first draft I've endured.