This past month, Demos Parneros, the CEO of Barnes and Noble, was fired without warning for violating undisclosed company policies. One can only imagine what he did to warrant such treatment.
The company was not performing well — sales down 6% while the industry was growing at a very mature 3% rate. This means Barnes and Noble was going in the wrong direction in what is a fairly healthy book-selling environment. Clearly, if the company is losing when the rest of the industry is winning, they are doing something wrong.
At Sunbury Press, we have definitely experienced miscommunication and a lack of coordination between divisions of Barnes and Noble. Recently, we have entered into a direct relationship for distributing our books with them, avoiding the need to use Ingram as our middle-man. This, on the surface, appeared to be a win-win for both of us, providing more revenue to each. However, when a Barnes and Noble store in Washington state wanted to order copies of our books for a book signing, they contacted the distribution center who then contacted us to order them directly.
“Do you realize your Barnes and Noble Press division is printing these books?” I asked the manager at the distribution center.
“Yes, but we have none in stock,” she said.
“But you sell them online. When an order comes in, you print and ship. Why can’t you do that for your own stores?” I asked.
“… (silence),” was the response.
So, I put the order in for them — to their Barnes and Noble Press division and had the order shipped to their bookstore. It is no wonder they are failing. Their operations leadership sucks! (pardon my French)
On the eBook front, we have been loading our books onto their Nook platform again. Many of you recall we took a hiatus from this due to declining sales. Some of you asked for us to give it another try because you heard from readers who wanted it on that platform. Well, despite loading a couple hundred titles, we have not seen an increase in sales. In fact, the platform appears to be lacking a pulse. We are hoping B&N sells off its eBook capabilities to Kobo or another player in the industry. In the meantime, there is nothing happening here. If we don’t see any movement or a potential sale, we will move on.