Dishing Junk – The act of dispensing ideas of little value in a casual or silly manner.

Hi all!  Patti here! *waves* Rachel is off having a great time at BEA this week, so I snuck in and took over her ‘Dishing Junk’ segment… today’s Dish is a subject about which I have absolutely no knowledge but have been pondering (obviously 🙂 ) for quite some time.  Also, I’d have to say it’s more bitchy than silly, but, whatevs… 

Dear Barnes and Noble,
I have been hearing about the demise of the brick-and-mortar bookstore for months.  ‘People are shopping online’, ‘they only buy e-books now’ are two of the most popular reasons I’ve seen given.  For me, it boils down to two things:  Cost and Inventory.  I buy a LOT of books, which can get expensive.  Oftentimes, that translates to “do you want it cheaper, or do you want it now?”  You, Barnes & Noble, have the opportunity to answer that question with”Yes”.

Now, I will preface this by saying I’ve never worked at a bookstore and don’t know the ins and outs of running one.  But based on my own personal shopping habits, here are five suggestions:

1. Make the book prices in the store the same price they are online!!!  It’s frustrating to go online and reserve a book for in-store pick up and it’s more expensive in the store.  Perhaps you could make that a perk of the B&N discount card, because at this point, unless you are an avid reader, the perks aren’t really worth the $25 annual fee. Especially if you can get the books cheaper and don’t have to be a member for free shipping at Amazon (if you spend $25, which to a book lover is not unusual). (Full disclosure: I have a B&N discount card)

2. Have release-day titles out on the floor on release day.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone to grab a new release and end up having to wait for someone in customer service look in their computer and say “it says we have several, let me go look in the back”.  We had a Borders but they closed – I can tell you from personal experience that I quit shopping there after about the fourth time I left work at lunchtime to pop over and pick up a new release on release day and they didn’t have it – I’d end up with no lunch and no book.

3. Amazon can get pre-orders to my house on the release date, why can’t you?  I pre-ordered ‘Dead Ever After’ by Charlaine Harris and it didn’t ship until the release date – which means I got it 4 days later.  Do you have any idea how hard it was to avoid spoilers?!?

4. Stop with the daily e-mails to buy a Nook: I don’t want one.  The problem is, I can’t unsubscribe to your e-mails if I want to continue getting coupons for print books. Speaking of coupons, if you want an edge over Amazon, think about making your coupons good for Nook books.  It could be a selling point to tip a customer towards the Nook instead of the Kindle.

5.   Don’t ignore a large sizable segment of your customer base.  Why not include Romance titles in your “Recommends” e-mails?  Over and over, Romance books are completely overlooked.  I’m not talking about bestselling authors like Charlaine Harris and Nora Roberts.  I’m talking about all types of romance reads: paranormal, contemporary, erotic, YA, fantasy.  Romance readers exist, and we buy books.  Lots of books.  And we like to feel included and valued as customers.  Reach out to us and we’ll reach back.

I love my neighborhood Barnes & Noble; I love wandering the aisles, touching new books, looking at covers, reading the blurbs and discovering something new. I want it to stay, but I hate feeling like I’m getting ripped off.  I don’t buy hardbacks or trade paperbacks there, only mass-market paperbacks, because for some reason they’re the same price online and in-store.  I don’t know if staffing plays a role, but my B&N is woefully understaffed – yesterday (Sunday) the lady in line behind me left because she was tired of waiting for the one cashier to ring up customers.  We have several “Indie” bookstores in my area, but sadly, they don’t stock Romance, so my options are you or Amazon.  Help me pick you.