(How long will they be useful?)I got the gift cards above for Christmas. I love Barnes & Noble and have been known to spend all day in one. In fact, I'm such a dork about books that if it wasn't for wanting to spend time with my family, I'd probably spend every Saturday in one and go home only to sleep(only because Barnes & Noble frowns on that practice in their stores). I used to also do that with Borders, but they aren't around anymore.
It was my reflecting on the Borders debacle that I started wondering about this awesome and dorkish hobby of mine. It's been no secret that brick and mortar bookstores are in trouble. They roared into being about 25 or so years ago, and, for a while, they ruled the market. They grew so dominant that they were castigated by many for putting the mom and pop bookstore industry on the ropes.
Well, Barnes & Noble is in trouble itself. It has been swamped by Amazon, and it doesn't seem to know how to stem the flow of blood. There's an emerging consensus that Barnes & Noble will be gone in a few years as Amazon pushes it out of the way. I just wonder if that's a good thing.
Don't get me wrong - from a purely business point of view, I think Amazon is doing a great job. It knows how to innovate and push authors many in the brick and mortar business aren't even aware of. Barnes & Noble, like Borders before it, has no clue how to adapt to the times, relying instead on the same business model that worked for it for a long time, all while still failing to account for how the bookselling business has changed.
However, there's just something about being able to browse a large bookstore. Looking around on Amazon just isn't the same. I like picking up books and flipping through them, and I've bought many tomes this way. I'm afraid that if trends continue, this method will become obsolete, and I worry what it'll do to my book-buying prowess.
Selfishly, I want Barnes & Noble to stick around. I worry, though, that their own stubbornness will kill them. I guess I should use my gift cards as soon as I can, lest they have no value soon.