Monday, July 4, 2016

Who's Killing America’s Chain Bookstores?

Hastings, the country's third largest book retailer, has gone under. Hastings management blames the internet, but the internet didn’t kill Hastings. No mention of its ancient POS system or its bloated headquarters full of neurotics. No mention of their bright idea to buy an East Coast DVD retailer. When was the last time anybody on the East Coast bought a DVD? Let’s call internet retailers what they are: competition. Hastings couldn’t compete because it was a bad company.
Same goes for Borders, which was a tragic case as it started out as such a good company. I remember back in ‘95 when a Borders regional manager said to me, in no uncertain terms, “Borders will never sell books on the internet!,” as if it were some sort of moral issue. What was that all about? But she was right, for all practical purposes, Borders never did.
Who’s next? I’m guessing Books-A-Million, which was voted the worst company in America to work for in 2014. I’m sure there are worse places in the U.S. to work for, rendering plants come to mind, but there aren’t many places worse to shop than BAM. You can’t walk through the door without somebody trying to shove a $25 club membership or magazine subscription down your throat. And those dumb employees. No, you can’t help me, you aren’t well read enough to help me, or anybody else. Barnes & Noble is almost as bad. It's a shame they didn't take some of that Nook money and hire some real booksellers.
Who’s killing the nation’s chain bookstores? Sadly, it looks like a case of mass suicide.

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