Bookstores

Indie Authors to Finally See their Books on B&N Shelves

28 June 2016

From GoodEreader:

About three years ago, then-VP, Digital Content and GM of Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press division Theresa Horner sat down with GoodEReader at the Frankfurt Book Fair to discuss the state of the company, namely its self-publishing option and its ebook self-publishing platform. She posed the question as to what it would take to effectively compete with Amazon. Our response–which was not at all tongue in cheek–was for the retailer to stop banning indie authors’ books from brick-and-mortar stores. If Nook Press had developed a viable print-on-demand option and then told authors there was even a possibility of seeing their titles in their local bookstore on the condition that they pulled their books from Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program, authors would have jumped at the chance.

Unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass and Theresa Horner is no longer with the company. The concept of opening the doors–and the shelves–to great self-published titles fell by the wayside.

. . . .

Now, the retailer has some (hopefully) exciting news that will come out today. In an earnings call to investors only a matter of days ago, the company outlined several key proposals for the coming year, which included Barnes and Noble table-side service restaurants and a plan to cut losses of the Nook division down to $30M to $40M in the coming year. But tucked in there was a tiny mention of a plan to reshape the Nook Press print-on-demand model, with further details to come out on the 28th.

. . . .

UPDATE: Barnes and Noble just issued a press release on its Nook Press print-on-demand service. As we predicted, it finally puts in motion the possibility of authors seeing their books on stores shelves. Opponents’ concerns over a general drop in quality of books in the stores are unfounded, as all submitted titles will be vetted for approval and have to meet the company’s outlined standards. Authors will also be required to be “eligible Nook Press authors,” meaning their titles must be available as ebooks on BN.com and not included in Amazon’s KDP Select category.

There’s another catch, though: it’s not just about quality, it’s about prior sales. The opportunity is limited to titles “whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 1,000 units in the past year.”

Link to the rest at GoodEreader

PG says if BN had done this five or six years ago, the book world might look different today.

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B&N Ed Acquires Promoversity so it Can Sell More Branded Merch.

25 June 2016

From The Digital Reader:

As I am sure you could guess, college bookstores make a lot of money off of gear carrying a college’s logo or sports team. With their latest acquisition, B&N Education is hoping to cash in on that market.

B&N Ed announced on Thursday that it had bought Promoversity, “a custom merchandise supplier and e-commerce storefront solution serving the collegiate bookstore business and its customers”.

. . . .

“Through our close partnerships with more than 740 campuses nationwide, we learned that alumni and fans were seeking a more streamlined athletic-only approach to making athletic and collegiate purchases,” Joel Friedman, vice president and chief merchandising officer, Barnes & Noble College, said in the press release.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Barnes & Noble’s New Comeback Plan: Alcohol-Serving Restaurants

24 June 2016

From Bloomberg:

Barnes & Noble Inc. has a plan to enliven the slumping bookstore chain: adding restaurants that serve beer and wine.

On Thursday, the company appointed Chief Operating Officer Jaime Carey to the head of a newly created restaurant group, and discussed plans to open four new concept stores with eateries attached. The idea is to build on Barnes & Noble’s push into other non-book areas, such as the sale of toys, gifts and vinyl records.

. . . .

Barnes & Noble also said that same-store sales will probably range from flat to up 1 percent this fiscal year, and losses from its Nook e-reader business are shrinking. The company expects the division to post a loss of $10 million by fiscal 2018, compared with $98.6 million last year.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg

On their earnings call, BN pointed to adult coloring book sales as the reason they’re going to significantly expand the space devoted to selling art supplies.

PG says full-service restaurants and art supply stores aren’t included on his list of high margin businesses.

On the earnings call, one analyst suggested that the most financially responsible treatment of the Nook division would be to simply close the entire operation down instead of pursuing a multi-year series of losses to build Nook up to a point where it reaches a break-even point as a division.

Barnes & Noble widens losses, but outlook improves

23 June 2016

From MarketWatch:

Barnes & Noble Inc. reported Wednesday that its loss widened during the final quarter of its fiscal year as revenue was pressured by store closures and lower online sales.

Still, shares, which have fallen nearly 41% in the last 12 months, climbed 6.3% in after-hours trading to $11.10 as the company gave an upbeat outlook for profitability.

For the current fiscal year, the company expects comparable bookstore sales to be between flat and an increase of 1%, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to range from $200 million to $250 million. The midpoint of that range is slightly better than analysts’ expectations, according to FactSet.

“As we look ahead to fiscal 2017 and beyond, we are focusing on executing a number of initiatives to grow bookstore and online sales, reduce Retail and NOOK expenses and grow our Membership base,” said Chief Executive Ron Boire.

. . . .

Retail sales, which include brick-and-mortar stores and online, fell 2.2% to $850 million. Comparable-store sales declined 0.8% for the quarter. Nook sales slipped 20% to $42 million during the three month period.

The company reported a loss of $30.6 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with a loss of $19.4 million, or 37 cents a share, a year prior. On a continuing operations basis, per-share loss was still 42 cents, wider than the 12 cent loss posted a year earlier.

Revenue declined 3.7% to $876.7 million during the quarter, brought lower by store closures and lower online sales. The company said it operates some 640 bookstores in the U.S.

Link to the rest at MarketWatch

Pulp Friction

21 June 2016

From The Atlantic:

Even by the standards of the ailing book publishing industry, the past year has been a bad one for Barnes & Noble. After the company spun off its profitable college textbook division, its stock plunged nearly 40 percent. Its long-term debt tripled, to $192 million, and its cash reserves dwindled. Leonard Riggio, who turned the company into a behemoth, has announced he will step down this summer after more than 40 years as chairman. At the rate it’s going, Barnes & Noble won’t be known as a bookseller at all—either because most of its floor space will be given over to games and gadgets, or, more ominously, because it won’t even exist.

. . . .

But while many book lovers may be tempted to gloat, the death of Barnes & Noble would be catastrophic—not just for publishing houses and the writers they publish, but for American culture as a whole.

If Barnes & Noble were to shut its doors, Amazon, independent bookstores, and big-box retailers like Target and Walmart would pick up some of the slack. But not all of it. Part of the reason is that book sales are driven by “showrooming,” the idea that most people don’t buy a book, either in print or electronically, unless they’ve seen it somewhere else—on a friend’s shelf, say, or in a bookstore. Even on the brink of closing, Barnes & Noble still accounts for as much as 30 percent of all sales for some publishing houses.

But the focus on sales masks the deeper degree to which the publishing industry relies on Barnes & Noble. The retailer provides much of the up-front cash publishers need to survive, in the form of initial orders. Most independent bookstores can’t afford to buy many books in advance; a single carton of 24 books would represent a large order. Amazon also buys few books in advance, preferring to let supplies run down so as to prompt online shoppers to “add to cart” because there are “only five left in stock.”

Barnes & Noble, by contrast, often takes very large initial orders. For books it believes will fly off the shelves, initials can reach the mid-five figures—hundreds of thousands of dollars that go to the publisher before a single book is even sold. That money, in turn, allows publishers to run ads in magazines and on Facebook, send authors on book tours, and pay for publicists. Without Barnes & Noble, it would become much harder for publishers to turn books into best-sellers.

Even if Barnes & Noble doesn’t close, publishers are already starting to suffer from the chain’s decline. “What can happen is that their number of stores can shrink, their store footprint can shrink, so that the number of titles on which they put meaningful advance orders can shrink,” says Mike Shatzkin, an industry veteran. “Publishers are going to have to adjust to a model where they print what they know will sell rather than what they hope will sell.”

. . . .

In a world without Barnes & Noble, risk-averse publishers will double down on celebrity authors and surefire hits. Literary writers without proven sales records will have difficulty getting published, as will young, debut novelists.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Why Indie Presses are Opening Bookstores

20 June 2016

From LitHub:

A few weeks ago, Milkweed Editions, long established as a literary press, announced it would open an independent bookstore in Minneapolis. Not long after, Curbside Splendor, a relatively young small press in Chicago, revealed its plans to open a bookshop in Chicago’s South Loop.

Suddenly, an increasing number of independent presses are going into the retail book business, morphing into full-service community hubs for book browsing and expanded literary programming. Some see retail floor space as an opportunity to bring more customers and supporters to their front doors. Others see it as an important source of income to support the publishing. All say it fulfills their missions as the literary hearts of their communities.

. . . .

Deep Vellum Publishing experimented this year with a bookstore in Dallas, though founder Will Evans is now looking for a buyer.

. . . .

Just a few years ago, in the throes of the Great Recession, the traditional publishing industry was in trouble. Independent bookstores already had been written off, and then Borders went under, proving even the big box bookstores were struggling. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple were all competing (and filing lawsuits) over the growing ebook market. Meanwhile, self-publishing was the Next Big Thing. In other words: print was dead, bookstores were passé, and self-published ebooks were the way to connect writers to readers without a middleman. The mainstream media agreed: this was the new reality.

But if this was the new reality, what is going on with all these non-profits and independent presses opening local bookstores? Why would anyone decide to open a bookstore in our allegedly post-retail, post-print world?

. . . .

A bookstore is a way to get people into contact with books. Slager said the Milkweed store—which will have a soft launch in July and a grand opening in the fall—will feel more like a gallery than a traditional library-style bookstore. He foresees rotating exhibits related to the publishing process, such as cover designs and manuscript pages to offer insight into what they do as a publisher, as well as a space for literary events.

The store will feature an abundance of titles from independent presses, he said. “We want to create a physical space to showcase some of the amazing books coming out of excellent smallish publishers.” He likened the store to the taproom for a local craft brewery, explaining, “We want to be a taproom for all these great indie press publishers so we can say to readers, ‘Hey, do you know about Wave Books? Do you know about Tupelo Press?’ I can’t wait to see the shelves covered with indie press books from all over North America.”

. . . .

“What we’ve been discovering over the past few years is that publishing is no longer just about publishing books. It’s about delivering literature to people. The best way to do that is not just selling a book—which a bookstore will do—but creating a community that people want to be involved in. We’re very excited by the opportunity.”

Link to the rest at LitHub

Amazon’s Third Bookstore Will Be In Portland

16 June 2016

From Fortune:

Amazon plans to open a third bricks and mortar bookstore, called Amazon Books, in Portland, Ore., the company has confirmed to Fortune.

“We are excited to be bringing Amazon Books to Washington Square, and we are currently hiring store managers and associates. Stay tuned for additional details down the road.”

. . . .

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said recently at the company’s annual shareholder meeting that the e-commerce giant is “definitely” opening more stores, though he did not reveal how many.

Link to the rest at Fortune

Store closings

11 June 2016

From Examiner:

This year has been a difficult year for brick-and-mortar stores, according to MSN Money on Thursday, June 9. Sports Authority and Sports Chalet are closing all of their stores. Aeropostale and other stores are heading in that direction. Then, there are some stores that are downsizing. Most stores blame online shopping as a reason for not making a profit in shopping centers.

Walmart announced in January that it plans to close all of its 102 Walmart Express stores as well as 52 full-size U.S. locations.

. . . .

Barnes & Noble has actually decided to close fewer stores in 2016 than it has in any year since 2000. The chain will close only eight locations instead of the 13 it had originally planned to close this year. The change comes because while most retailers have seen sales slow at physical stores, but Barnes & Noble has actually lost online sales volume while its retail locations have been a relative strength.

Link to the rest at Examiner

Hastings could close all 126 stores if no buyer emerges

11 June 2016

From the Amarillo Globe News:

Hastings has confirmed that it’s seeking a buyer for the chain of 126 entertainment retail stores, but if one can’t be found, it will begin closing the entire chain due to “continuing financial challenges.”

. . . .

“Hastings has been working diligently to overcome our business challenges and we have made significant progress with a remerchandising strategy and other initiatives aimed at increasing profitability. To continue our transformation, we have initiated a comprehensive process to identify a buyer or investor that will give us the additional financial stability we need to move forward. While we are hopeful a sale agreement will be reached, we also have a responsibility to prepare for all contingencies.

“As a result, we were obligated to formally notify our associates that, if a sale agreement cannot be achieved in a timely manner, we may need to begin downsizing our corporate office and/or closing the entire Hastings chain due to our continuing financial challenges. Our management team believes there are a number of parties that would be interested in acquiring our brand, and we are doing everything possible to create a strong future for our business and for this great team.”

The company has 500 employees in Amarillo and operates 126 stores in medium-sized cities around the country, according to the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce.

. . . .

Hastings was owned by the Marmaduke family for more than 40 years and remained a publicly traded company until 2014 when a bleak forecast prompted its sale for $21.4 million to Joel Weinshanker, owner of Draw Another Circle and the National Entertainment Collectibles Association.

. . . .

“With movies, books, music, you are seeing a lot of change in companies as developers are trying to better meet the needs of consumers,” said Neil Meredith, assistant professor of economics at West Texas A&M. “Consumers can go online, don’t have to go anywhere and can have more access to content that is seamlessly-delivered to them at a price point that makes sense economically. You don’t have the overhead (costs) of a brick-and-mortar store.”

Meredith said that the disappearance of brick-and-mortar stores will continue with the online retail of music, books and movies. He cited free music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora as well as major retail distributor Amazon for reducing prices on books, music and movies.

“The market is voluntary. If people really see Amazon as better, then that’s where they will put their money,” Meredith said. “I always tell my students, don’t get yourself into a situation where you say, ‘All I will do is push a blue button. I won’t learn anything else. I won’t adapt.’ It’s a cliche, but ‘adapt or die’.”

Link to the rest at Amarillo Globe News and thanks to TXR for the tip.

Eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know

9 June 2016

From The Independent:

Self-published authors are sometimes ill-prepared or don’t know what to expect when they approach booksellers about selling their titles, signing events, policy, etc. To be successful in pitching their books to booksellers, self-published authors should have a sense of the resources available to booksellers, what is appealing to them, and how to approach them. Here are eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know.

Making sure your title is available for bookstores to order is an important first step

Bookstores don’t have access to all titles, and corporate stores like Barnes and Noble can’t sell your title unless it’s in its system and available from one of its distributors. Independent bookstores are much more likely to accept copies you bring from home, but each one is different, so it’s important to do some preliminary research. The more available your book is, the easier it will be to make sales.

Before setting up a book signing, do research on how to get your title accepted into the bookstores you are considering.

Make sure your title is returnable, specifically for national bookstore chains

With literally millions of titles in publication, it makes sense that real estate in a bookstore is a high commodity. With so many titles vying for space, most bookstores are reluctant to order anything that can’t be returned, especially in the quantities required for a signing event.

If your book has already been accepted into the distribution system, ask how to make your title returnable. I’m told it’s a fairly simple process, but be aware that it isn’t a free service.

Bookstores typically don’t have a budget to promote your signing event

The hard truth of the matter is that bookstores are approached by countless self-published authors who rarely make enough sales at an event to justify promotional expenditures. Even promotion for New York Times best-selling authors are supported by publishers, the authors themselves (yes, even highly successful authors promote their own events), and social media. There are exceptions to this, but be prepared to handle your own advertising.

If you want people to show up, there are several things you can do. Print flyers (or even better, bookmarks) for booksellers to bag-stuff, ask if you can set up a display a few weeks early with the event info, boost ads on social media, or take out an ad in the paper. The opportunities are there and go beyond what I’ve listed. You just have to be willing to put in the effort.

. . . .

Booksellers don’t want to be hassled about your book

Save your soliciting for the customers. Booksellers know way more about what’s available to read than the average person and have already decided before they meet you whether or not they want to read your book. Talking about it with them is okay. Pestering them to read it is not. You want to leave booksellers with a general knowledge of your book’s premise, but you also want to leave them with a positive experience. Your goal shouldn’t be to sell to them but to garner a good relationship.

If you really want booksellers to read your book, provide a free copy a few months ahead of your signing. This gives employees a chance to check out the title with zero pressure and ample time to read it beforehand. This method usually gets the best response.

Link to the rest at The Independent

PG says one of the things formerly trade-published authors like the most about being indies is not having to do book signings. When Mrs. PG was doing signings at her former publisher’s request, she regarded those events as a total waste of time and energy.

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