For me, to step into the open,airy, welcoming B&N is like stepping into Charlie’s Chocolate Factory! All the books that are waiting to be devoured by my brain.I raid the magazine section and then the new nonfiction arrivals. But in the end I can’t read more than two. Am I greedy or what?
I love the comfy chairs near the cafe. I place a blazer on the headrest and once you settled in one of those couches, you literally need help getting up! The blazer (I use a cheap one) helps you hold the seat, be it during restroom or coffee breaks.
After you are settled in the couch, one can read an entire goddamn book in the store and the staff won’t bug you once (unless you are sleeping, then they would wake you up. it happened only once to me!)And even if one were to buy some of the books that can’t be read in one sitting, the 14 days return policy helps. It’s almost like a library with a security deposit and no limit on number of books to be borrowed. I avoid credit cards and use cash for payment . That way nobody can track all the returns I have been making. The last time I bought a book at b&n was almost an year ago .That too because I spilled coffee on this small book and it was only fifteen bucks. So might as well buy it !
It’s not like I don’t want to buy their books. Most of them are not expensive, my gripe is that every time I buy, would never reread it !! And, for the books that you have to buy, use the member discount card. (I mean to say, give out the phone number of any friend, who already is a member!)
The stores do have some minor drawbacks, like homeless hijacking the restrooms, absence of free parking but there is one recurring nuisance at most stores in LA area. It’s some of the indians soliciting me to make me independent businessman. I would explain that I am already successful at my business but they wouldn’t listen. They want to dispel my “misconceptions” about their business model and hell bent on signing me up. A few times, I was forced to give my cell number and boy oh boy, do they ever take no for an answer? In case, you haven’t already realized who they are , it’s the AMWAY people!
Coming to think of parking fees, I would just buy venti latte at the store (cost is often less than that of parking)and get them validate parking. Also, you need the latte to stay awake in the couches.
Though Lord Almighty has made B&N perfect, I have a strong feeling that it can certainly be made better. I thought of 4 ways
1) B&N must add a juke box. The Frank Sinatra collection on their playlist is good but does get annoying sometimes. I would love to have some Coldplay,U2 or Radiohead songs played in those speakers. 2)Put a helper in the restrooms to hand out soap and towels, just like it’s done at fancy clubs. B&N should put a tip jar and I am sure patrons would take care of him/her. 3) Expand the pastry/snack selections. 4)It’s a wonderful space to find attractive singles. So why not B&N host singles mixer , like at the time of release of Dan Brown books or Harry Potter books!? ( I would update this space as and when I get more ideas to better B&N)
How does B&N survive? It has been making net profit ~ $200 million per annum but that’s not a lot of profit.B&N operates over 600 stores and also has a big catalogue business. So each B&N store makes around $300k, which is less than average bonus for a Goldman Sachs employee! B&N is almost like a non-profit run by book aficionados !
No talk about B&N is complete without bashing the independent bookstores. My experience is that most of those are vastly overrated. The staff at B&N are very eager to help finding books. This is something independent stores loath to do. Most of them are packed,pricey and don’t have a decent return policy. Not to mention the lack of decent couches, absence of a cafe, and no wi-fi access!
As a favor to the excellent staff at B&N, I make a point to put books back in the rack (all freeloaders should do the same). Also these days a common dilemma for book lovers is the choice of Kindle and Nook. I am positive that I would get Nook. One reason is to reaffirm my love for B&N . Second reason being that one can read any e-book on Nook, while on the store’s Wi-Fi network!
I hope B&N survives this recession well. It has an amazing selection of books and I am begging all my friends & family to keep shopping here! I think I am in love with B&N. This is where I have the unsleazy-fun . And may be I will propose soon 🙂
I am sure most people have interesting stories to say about B&N. Please, be my guest contributor, and email me asap! long live B&N !