In a way, this is somewhat painful. I have so many good memories of Barnes and Noble. For a long time my little area of Upstate New York had only small bookstores. A Walden's in the mall, a few independent bookstores. But mostly I just got my books from the library. Then a nice, big Barnes and Noble came to our area right around the time I hit my teenage years and started to have more spending money. My friend and I used to spend hours there, browsing, enjoying the atmosphere, and usually left with a bag or two. It was one of our favorite places to spend time.
I always just loved the feeling of being surrounded by wall to wall books. And I've always enjoyed the feel and the smell and the look of books. Barnes and Noble was like a paradise.
A few years back, I came to a place in my life where I just didn't have the luxury of buying books anymore. We've been very poor for a long time and so going to Barnes and Noble became an exercise in futility. I just stopped going altogether for the most part. But this Christmas we got our usual $50 worth of Barnes and Noble gift cards from my grandmother, always one of my favorite gifts in times past. My husband and I ventured to B&N one night to find something to spend them on. We ended up leaving the store empty handed.
You see, it wasn't my Barnes and Noble anymore.
The place was filled with toys and games and gimmicky books and gift items. It didn't feel like a bookstore anymore. It felt like a vaguely book related gift shop. The smell of the books wasn't there anymore. The first thing that your eyes saw upon entering was a giant Nook display. I don't begrudge them their Nook kiosk. Ebooks are totally the future and I LOVE my Kindle Fire, but man, when I walk into a bookstore I want to see books.
In addition to all that, we legitimately couldn't find anything we wanted to buy. Granted, we didn't have a ton of time to browse, we were wasting time before a movie. But who does anymore? How many people can afford to spend an hour in a bookstore so that they can find just the right thing to buy? Oh sure, I had that time to spare when I was a teenager. But I'm a busy mom of four now. My opportunities to get out alone with my husband are so few and far between that we certainly can't devote a whole evening to book shopping.
I decided to just find something online later on. Later on, I tried browsing their site for books. Wow. What a pain. Has anyone here tried to browse the B&N website? It's got to be one of the most poorly designed shopping experiences from a major retailer I've ever seen. I finally filled my shopping cart by just typing "Miyazaki" into the search engine. Knowing what you were looking for seems to be the only efficient way of navigating their website. My order went a little over the $50 on the gift cards I had. And as I pushed the button to submit my order I thought to myself, "That's the last money I give to them."
All that was before I saw this little news item:
Bookseller Barnes & Noble volleyed another shot at rival Amazon.com by announcing that the chain will stop selling books in its stores published by the Internet retail giant.
Jaime Carey, chief merchandising officer at Barnes & Noble, said in a statement Tuesday that Amazon had “undermined” the book industry by pushing for exclusive deals with authors, agents and publishers.
. . . .
“Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content,” Carey said. “It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest. We don’t get many requests for Amazon titles, but if customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at bn.com.”
You think Amazon is "undermining the industry" by preventing customers from having access to content and so you're going to respond to this by... preventing your customers from having access to Amazon's books by highly popular authors.
I'm sorry, Barnes and Noble, but now you're going too far. You see, unlike you, Amazon has given me an absolutely fantastic shopping experience. I ordered a new camera before Christmas and the estimated delivery date was between Dec. 27-30. You know when it came? DECEMBER 22. My husband ordered a packet of fountain pens and when it came found that it only contained 9 of the 12 pens it was supposed to have. He looked into it a bit, and decided it would just be too much trouble to try to contact them to get the missing pens. Several days later we received a package in the mail containing 3 fountain pens. And their website is one of the easiest websites I've ever used. Shopping there is a JOY.
So, Barnes and Noble, you had your chance, I know you've been trying to adapt to this new digital world. But you're doing a terrible job. You're screwing over your customers in an effort to get back at Amazon for doing everything better than you. So that's it. Amazon is getting all my business now.
Goodbye, Barnes and Noble, from the bottom of my heart, goodbye.
Update 3/5/2012: So I ordered three movies from Barnes and Noble online around 22nd or 23 of February. As of today, we still haven't received them. The latest info we can get from online tracking is that they arrived in Philadelphia recently. (We're about 4 hours north of Philly.) They sat in Kentucky for several days before that. Really, Barnes and Noble, really? It's been well over a week now? I order something from Amazon and I know I'll get it in 2 days. Sometimes sooner. This is ridiculous. Never, never again.