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

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