Thursday, March 29, 2012

Big box bonzo.

Best Buy is closing 50 stores because it is losing money. Remember this is after they lost their major competitor, Circuit City.

As Matthew Yglesias of Slate puts it: "First we saw the death of secondary firms, and now we're seeing the shrinkage of even market leaders."

I tried making that point -- that the demise of the secondary firms -- Borders, Linens and Things, Circuit City -- was a sign of not of the strength of the leaders, as many seemed to interpret it, but a sign of the weakness of the business model. That big box stores depended on an expanding economy because they are essentially ponzi schemes.

Anyway, after thinking about it for awhile, I've decided to mention that there has been a persistent rumor that the local Barnes and Noble is going to close. Now, right away, I'm saying this is RUMOR, and only that. But I've heard it so many times, that I thought I'd mention it. What I'm saying is, I'm saying as a fact that there is a rumor, but not that the rumor is a fact.

First of all, I don't believe it. Really. And especially that is would be likely to close a few months before Christmas. But overall, it just doesn't seem likely.

Secondly, I don't think this would be good for us. Especially for our used bookstore, The Bookmark, which depends on a steady supply of books coming in the door. And my downtown store, Pegasus Books, really doesn't compete with Barnes and Noble (what a quaint notion). Our business is selling to people who drop in while shopping downtown.

But it also wouldn't totally surprise me.


RDC said...

They are losing to a different, even more consolidated business model, called Amazon on one side and Walmart on the other. This coupled with the changes in what was there biggest money maker called Walmart.

The trend towards people going to Best Buy and other stores, finding what they like and then order online is becoming the norm.

Amazon is the gorilla in the room for both B&N and Best Buy.

RDC said...

Made a typo meant to say changes in their biggest money maker called LCD TV and the entry into that space by Walmart

Broofa said...

I'm not shedding tears over either of these, honestly. Best Buy in particular seems particularly useless. It's where you go to pay 1.5-2X what something would cost online, for the dubious convenience of getting it a day or two faster. So, basically, I only ever went there to buy stuff that cost less than $100. Anything more expensive and the convenience simply wasn't worth the premium.

B&N is a little different story, in part because of the digital book upheaval, but I think you basically have it right. Borders was just the tremor before the big quake. And, frankly, I think B&N will just be another tremor. The real quake will be when people look at all those books they have sitting on shelves and realize they haven't read *any* of them in years. This is precisely what's happened with my wife and I since we got our Kindles. I have ~40 linear feet of classic sci-fi that up until recently I treasured because these are some of my favorite reads. But I honestly don't know if I'll ever open them again because the reading experience on a Kindle is just that much better.

Sobering, that. 'Not something I would've predicted happening to me 2 years ago.

Dunc, you might want to keep an eye on the rate at which early technology adopters come into your store(s) with boxes of used books to sell. I wouldn't be surprised if it starts ticking upwards over the next 12-18 months as e-book technology gets better.

H. Bruce Miller said...

" It's where you go to pay 1.5-2X what something would cost online"

They often have good 1- or 2-year interest free deals, though. And their customer service is excellent. Try getting any kind of tech support from Amazon -- they'll just tell you to return it.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Story in The Bull today about how the big box chains (even Wal-Mart) are abandoning big boxes and going to smaller boxes. Makes sense, especially in small to mid-sized markets. How can a town like Bend support a bookstore the size of B&N? If it was about a quarter the square footage it might work.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"But I honestly don't know if I'll ever open them again because the reading experience on a Kindle is just that much better."

Can't go along with that statement at all. Reading a "real" book is 10 times better than reading an e-book from an aesthetic standpoint. I have an e-reader, but strictly for the convenience of it.

Anonymous said...

You should be like JK Rowling and sell digital editions of your upcoming book on your own web site. That'll show them!

Duncan McGeary said...

Better yet, sell my book on J.K. Rowling's site!

Yeah, that's the plan.