Category Archives: Bookstores

Price Matching at Barnes and Noble

Yesterday, I had a great Barnes and Noble experience, in Birmingham, as they are now letting customers get the BN.com price, in the store, and I want to share.

I needed a copy of Mark Larabee’s Pacific Crest Trail book (which is a beautiful book, by the way). I called my indie shop down the street and they didn’t have a copy.

I went to BN.com and saw that the book was $36 (which matched other online retailers) compared to the $50 in-store price. That’s a great discount. I was also able to see that a local Barnes and Noble store had it in stock.

Then I remembered a little birdie telling me that B&N is running a price matching program for B&N Members. I am not sure why they aren’t trumpeting this.

I walked in a local Barnes and Noble and asked the manager about it. She confirmed that it is real and then shared some of her thoughts about it. I would say she was neither plussed nor upset about the practice, just that…

“…customers have been confused by the different prices in store and online and have been asking for this for a long, long time”.

I thought that a pretty fair assessment.

All I had to do was go up, give them my B&N Membership number and the cashier showed me the special “compare to current BN.com price” button, on the register. It took all of 2 seconds and I checked out with the lower online price + tax. The cashier said that if you always ask for the comparison (again after your member # has been entered) the system will give you the lowest price possible. So if your member discount drops the in-store price lower than the online price, you’ll still come out ahead.

This is exactly the kind of customer-focused thinking Barnes and Noble needs to be doing.

  1. I was able to research prices and availability online
  2. I could have even reserved a copy online
  3. I was able to go to a local store, pay local taxes, and get the lowest price Barnes and Noble was offering, online or off.
  4. I had my book immediately (which even beats free 2 day delivery)

Hopefully, more customers will use this price-matching program. It leverages the best pieces B&N has access to, and will keep them  relevant and front-of-mind for local readers. These kinds of services can help them win in a way that all their past experiments, with in-store restaurants and bars, just can’t do.

Week 3: Be the Expert In Bookshops #nonficnov

Welcome to Week 3 of Nonfiction November 2017. Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness is hosting this time and has posted the prompt for this week, which is:

You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I have chosen to go the Be The Expert route and recommend some books I’ve read that will help you be an expert on: bookshops. I love book stores. Indie shops, chain stores, weird half-shelf spaces hidden in Publix crammed with paperbacks, garage sales, local authors selling from the back of their cars. I love shopping for books. And I am thankful for all those folks who realize how thin the margins are, how long the hours are, and how important local bookstores are to our communities.

So if you’ve ever wondered about how all the dots connect in running a bookstore, or if you’re like me and just love reading about bookshops, I’d recommend checking out these books.

Books on Bookshops

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History by Lewis Buzbee is a wonderful quick read. It is one of my favorite bookstore books to recommend to folks. Buzbee started out as a clerk in an indie bookstore and never left. He shares stories and insights into all aspects of the bookshop, from customer service, to the stock room, the history of book selling and debates whether or not books are getting too expensive.

Reluctant Capitalists by Laura Miller could almost be called a text book. It’s a pretty academic and data driven look at the last 100 years of book selling. This book is unique in its discussion of local bookshops being seen as noble or moral pursuits. It’s pretty dense on the page, but a solid read if you’ve ever found yourself wishing things “were like they were 50 years ago”. It’s a pretty detailed and hardcore book industry-geek book, but very well done.

My Bookstore by Ronald Rice falls squarely in the inspirational read for me. Many of the writings deserve underlining and being trumpeted. The book is simply a collection of essays from a bunch of authors talking about the “why” of bookstores and why they matter. It’ll have you raising a glass saying Cheers!, after many of the pieces.

 

One More Bonus Bookshops Book

Footnotes from the Greatest Bookstores by Bob Eckstein is a bonus book here. It’s just a wonderful little book that any bookshop lover will appreciate. Eckstein’s book is a collection of large postcard shaped paintings accompanied by blurbs. The short text shares interesting trivia or lore about the bookshop pictured in each painting and they even spill the beans on any famous celebrity types that might hang out there. It’s a really fun design opening on the short end of the book and is fun to flip through. It makes a good gift for bookish friends.

That’s it! Have you read any of these books? Any other good bookshop books I should check out? The Be The Expert is always my favorite week of Nonfiction November and the last time it I participated in Nonfiction November I shared books on book covers design, and it was pretty fun. If you like books, you should check out those titles too.

Three Upcoming Birmingham Book Events

The gift giving season is just about here and I’m ready for all of the book signings and author events to kick into high gear. If you’re in the Birmingham, AL vicinity here are three upcoming book related events that may interest you.

Tuesday, November 7th, starting at 6 pm

Authors Hank Early (Heaven’s Crooked Finger) & Carrie Smith (Unholy City) will be signing their books at the Little Professor Book Center in Homewood.

Saturday, November 11th, 11:00 am – 03:00 pm

Join authors and readers for day of programs, signings, books and lunch as Southern Magic, the Birmingham chapter of Romance Writers of America, hosts Lynn Raye Harris and special keynote speaker #1 New York Times bestseller Abbi Glines. Tickets are $40 and there are plenty of books, goodie bags and door prizes.

Thursday, November 16th, starting at 5:00 pm

The Alabama Booksmith is hosting author David DiBenedetto for a signing of his new book S Is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco, which compiles a bunch of A-Z stories, anecdotes and definitions from the folks and Garden & Gun magazine.

Ann Pachett Interview on CBS Sunday Morning

This past weekend CBS Sunday morning aired a piece on the success of Ann Patchett and her bookstore in Nashville, TN. During the seven and a half minute story they covered everything from bookstore dogs, the launching of new independent bookstores, author tours and even Ann Pachett’s writing style.

Here’s a link to the video. It’s better to click through and watch as CBS has all their embed stuff set to auto-play and I’m not going to do that to you.

When you’re done watching the video, you can click on through to Ann Patchett’s shop’s site and browse as well. Though I can attest, it’s much more fun to visit Parnassus Books in person.

I think CBS Sunday Morning should highlight an indie bookstore every couple of weeks. I feel certain they’d get all of the colorful characters, commentary and quirky video they like to have these days. Anyway, it’s a fun little interview to watch while finishing your morning coffee this week.