B&N's Bloody Monday

Closed Barnes & Noble

Barnes and Noble, biggest of the few remaining big book stores, is on its last legs if these independent sources cited by The Digital Reader are correct.
Yesterday Barnes & Noble shook the business world when they fired an unknown number of experienced employees. The initial report said B&N had fired "lead cashiers, digital leads, and other experienced workers", but what that report missed - and why this was worth bringing up a day later - was that B&N also fired nearly all of its receiving managers in what current and ex-employees are calling Bloody Monday.
The business world might be shook, but regular readers of this blog saw B&N's collapse coming a mile off.
When B&N fires a digital sales lead, it means they'll sell fewer Nooks. This is no big deal given how B&N's digital revenues have fallen since 2013. When B&N fires a head cashier, it means you're in for longer waits at the register.
But when B&N fires its receiving managers, it means that B&N won't have the merchandise to sell you because the person who was responsible for making sure shelves get stocked does not work there any more.
Prediction: B&N will use the payroll savings to upgrade their insurance and hire a convicted arsonist at each remaining location.
Last month Barnes & Noble reported that revenues for the 2017 holiday season fell 6.4% compared to the same period a year ago, to $953 million. Online sales dropped 4.5%, while same-store sales fell 6.4%.
That is how B&N performed when they had experienced managers running the show, but next year they won't have these managers - in fact, B&N is going to have trouble finding any experienced managers to fill these roles.
We have a fairly healthy economy right now, and everyone from Walmart to Amazon is hiring. This means Barnes & Noble isn't going to be able to find the experienced people they need to turn the company around.
Circuit City lasted 19 months after they fired their best sales people, but B&N won't last nearly that long.
The Big Five New York publishers' business model is entirely dependent on their paper distribution monopoly. That's why they charge as much--or more--for an eBook as they do for a hardcover. It's a desperate attempt to force readers back into the Big Five's print sales channel, which at this point is pretty much synonymous with Barnes and Noble.

When B&N falls, tradpub will be forced to compete with indie on a level playing field, i.e. Amazon. The legacy publishers will lose, because as Galaxy's Edge co-author Nick Cole explained, tradpub authors who are used to writing one book every six months will be drowned out by indies releasing new titles every 1-2 months.

The Big Five can see the writing on the wall. I've heard reports that tradpub authors, including some of Tor Books' purse puppies, are complaining that their editors are drastically moving up their deadlines. It won't save them, though--not if they suffer from electile dysfunction.

We are witnessing the dawn of a New Pulp Age. Authors must evolve to compete in this new environment. Write entertaining stories that put fun before politics, and write them fast, and thrive.

Short & sweet: if you’re a fan of mind-bending fiction, and epic tales spun out over centuries, of heroic heroes you can love and disturbingly inventive and evil monsters, then check out this book and the whole Soul Cycle series. And buckle in for the ride.
-Joseph Moore


  1. Once Amazon secures a monopoly on book publishing, author royalty rates will be cut in half. It'll go back to the 35% rate, just like when the Kindle first launched.

    1. A little of the ol' Black Pill, eh? It's understandable. The tradpub-affiliated media's been spreading the Amazon monopoly zombie meme for years.

      Rhetoric aside, let's look at the facts. Amazon isn't a monopoly, and it would take far more than B&N's--or even the Big Five's--collapse to turn them into one.

      A monopoly is a single producer or cartel that controls the supply of a good or service. Amazon doesn't produce books. They're a retailer. The Big Five, on the other hand, were a monopolistic cartel that controlled the supply of print books.

      Now, I realize what people mean when they warn of Amazon becoming a monopoly is that Amazon will have no competition in the book retail market and thus no reason to keep author royalties competitive.

      Could that happen? Sure. Amazon is always tweaking its operation. I'm not concerned about it, though. Here's why:
      -Amazon has plenty of competitors, including Apple and Google.
      -Authors flocked to Amazon from tradpub largely because of the higher KDP royalties. If Amazon tries to low ball them, authors will go elsewhere. Where? To any competitor who offers better rates. And someone will, because the first retailer to outbid Amazon will steal their market share.
      -Supposing Amazon does quash all competition and cuts royalties in half, 35% is better than 12.5%, so authors would still benefit compared to tradpub.

      TL;DR: If Amazon is dumb enough to cut royalties to 35%, they deserve the Fox News-ing they'll get.

    2. Yeah, I guess we don't need to worry so much unless Amazon starts making bids to buy out Apple or something.

    3. Who knows? The backlash against Big Tech is gaining some traction. Another James Damore sytle incident might just result in an antitrust suit or two, and then all bets are off.

  2. Brian.
    It'll be really intetesting to see the international implications when Barnes and Nobel collapses.it'll put alot of pressure on those European countries with price control on books.
    I suspect that the customers there wil demand ebooks be easier to buy because at least servers won't go bankrupt and if one goes down another takes its place.

  3. Brian.
    Sorry for posting again some follow links from Digital reader.




    My favourite quote:selling an ebook reader in a physical bookstore os a conflict of

    bwhahaha so Bezos is going to jail? Of course not it's smart business give the customer the option doofus


  4. The human face of Barnes and Nobel's massive firings

  5. Big 5 Publishers have disparaged ebooks for some time now. If B&N goes belly up, then what dead-tree channels do they have to satisfy the needs of the folks who have yet to discover INDIE PUB?

    1. Subscription. Known to customers, but poor choice. Still need to pack and ship the items, or establish POD centers in numerous locations across the US and other countries. Materials have tendency to get beaten up in shipping more than Amazon.

    2. Mom-and-Pop bookstores. Almost as bad as ebooks due to narrow margins and poor treatment by Big 5 who regarded them as second tier (or worse) for some time.

    3. Warehouse stores, discount outlets, and big-box stores. Yeah, that's where the upper crust who buy paper copies will go to get the latest NYT Bestseller.

    4. Amazon. Well, er -- uh, umm. You see ... . Oh, poo. "At least they ship in plain brown wrappers. Maybe we can negotiate taking the 'smile' off the boxes."


    1. 5. Mail-order Book Clubs!

      Oh. my. gracious. Codeine nightmares inbound!

    2. Amazon is already the biggest print book retailer in the English-speaking world. The Big Five aren't in the book business. They're in the lumber distribution business. They control the paper distribution channels that feed B&N. That's why they fought Amazon tooth and nail.

      When B&N goes, the sales channels you listed will be all tradpub has left. The authors Nick Cole calls their Cadillac clients will be retained and have their books sold in supermarkets and Costco. The mid list will be cut loose.

      In summation: Brandon Sanderson will still have a career. Scalzi will be sending out resumes.

  6. Man of the atom
    Another arrow 8n the quiver: buy a book directly to the publisher and then pick it up at your local

    here's an example from Spain: www.libelista.com
    What bugs me is that none of the digital books benefit from the 5% discount that print books have. In Europe they're really obsessed with paper and it's holding back not just ebooks but audio books as well alternative channels.

    A link to Salon of all places praising the self pub revolution via the Digital