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The Future of Barnes & Noble--and what it may mean for media purchasing

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Mike Frezon, May 13, 2018.

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  1. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    The NYT recently had an opinion piece on the future of B&N. It calls the retailer's death "plausible."

    It includes a fair amount of facts...and more than a sidewards glance toward Amazon along with US antitrust policies.

    It would be a very bad thing if B&N goes down...

    When's that next Criterion sale going to be?
     
  2. David Norman

    David Norman Producer

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    July and Nov are the normal 50% Criterion sale. Most commonly the July sale starts the Tuesday after July 4th though there is always a little doubt until someone at BN says something.

    40% off most Instore Bluray (sometimes DVD) usually happens around Fathers Day -- the last couple have only been 1 week though some years it's run 2 or even 3 weeks. The "In-store" pricing in the past have included most items ordered through their store generated Ship to Home program which also allows the 10% Member discounts and possibly coupons
     
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  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    They’re usually in July and November at B&N.

    Criterion’s website will do a 50% off flash sale a couple times a year as well

    I think, sadly, that it’s entirely plausible that B&N could go under. Publishers would probably prefer we buy eBooks because that format is cheaper to produce and ties the book to the purchaser - makes it more likely that your friend will have to buy his own copy of a book than borrow yours. And for retailers, how can they compete against a giant warehouse that can stock everything and get it to you in two days?

    I’m guilty of being less of a retailer shopper than ever in part due to that - I tend to want titles that while not completely obscure may not be in stock, and my experiences with checking stock online before going to the actual store rarely work out (website says it’s there; store says it’s not).

    And finally, last time I sought to purchase a physical item at B&N, I found that they were charging $20 more to buy it in the store than Amazon had it online and $15 more than the B&N website. And while I might be willing to spend a couple dollars more to be able to buy it right now vs wait for delivery, a $15-20 premium was just too much.

    It seems that a lot of retailers in NYC are just getting screwed on rent too. Their real estate (all retailers, not just B&N) seem to have been bought out by these holding companies that seem accountable to no one and continue to jack up rent beyond reason. We saw the first wave here of indie stores and restaurants being forced out when leases expire, movie theaters too. Right now it seems only the giant chains, be it restaurants or retailers, can afford that rent but I suspect at a certain point they’ll balk too.

    I used to love working retail in my college days but I just don’t know how retail survives in the long term in this environment.

    I’m also concerned that when the businesses go, the jobs lost won’t all be replaced elsewhere. I like the convenience offered by home delivery but I’m not sure we’ve thought out the collateral damage that would follow the widespread death of all retail business.
     
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  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    David:

    That's information I never remember on my own...and yet I know I can always count on you to helpfully remind. Thanks. In fact, my wish list of new Criterion titles has never been longer than it is right now. I am now looking closely at the month of July!

    But my question in the OP about the next Criterion sale was actually meant to be rhetorical. So many of us count on those Criterion sales at B&N and look to B&N as one of those last bastions of physical media "window shopping." I hate to think we might lose all that.
     
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  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I’m curious what percentage of Criterion’s yearly business comes out of those two B&N sales. It’s the most high profile publicity Criterion gets for the year, and they’re not paying for the advertising.

    I can’t imagine that losing a retail partner like B&N would be good for their business long term. I wonder if that might force them into the more limited “we can only release whatever the studios can give us, in the condition they give it to us” model that smaller labels like Twilight Time operate in. When Criterion contributes funding to a major restoration, I have to assume they can lay out that money in part because they have other avenues of distribution besides their website that can reach more people. Without that...who knows what their market becomes.
     
  6. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    Where else are criterion titles plentiful offline?
     
  7. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    Nowhere around here. If you want it "now" it's B&N. If you want to purchase it local, it's B&N.
     
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  8. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    You could also have said the same thing about the results of mechanization of farming. "What will all those former farmers DO?".
     
  9. David Norman

    David Norman Producer

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    In-store Criterion I don't think any National store other than BN.

    Bullmoose carries some if you happen to be in NH/Maine. Some independent stores probably still carry some (??Amoeba). I'm not sure FYE carries any at all anymore. Fry;s used to, but I don't think they do any longer
     

  10. Very sad to hear about B&N struggling to survive.

    That's the Monopoly game of capitalism/debitism. At the final stages it all comes down to monopolistic market concentration, especially with insufficient antitrust regulation.

    Anybody from southern CA remembering Ken Crane's Laserdisc in Westminster, CA? Used to buy lots of Laserdiscs there in the 90's and taking home to Munich. (when widescreen presentations were usually limited to Laserdisc releases) Wonderful company, great selection. They also had to close down years ago after more than 60 years in bussiness with their electronic and TV stores.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/22/business/la-fi-0622-Ken-Crane-20100622

    There goes all the money:

    https://media.architecturaldigest.com/photos/5ab2be262ed63a101d561de2/4:3/w_670/GettyImages-927420710_Crop-for-web.jpg
     
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  11. SAhmed

    SAhmed Supporting Actor

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    B&N is definitely not the cheapest place to get physical media or books unless there is a sale going on. But I would most surely miss i'ts demise (should it happen) as it's a great place to see in-store variety, the atmosphere and most importantly, in my personal experience, the hardworking, friendly staff there. It would be an even greater felt loss than when The Laserdisc Store/Place/Exchange (?) shutdown here in the Indianapolis area

    Regards,
     
  12. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    That’s certainly true, but I think the difference is, at that point in time we switched from an agrarian society to an industrial one. So, you went from the farm to the factory, broadly speaking.

    I’m not sure that there are new industries popping up to replace retail in that same way. If you’re a retail manager who has worked at a store for a couple decades, it’s not clear what would replace that. If the local B&N goes, other local stores sharing the same complex might soon follow. Then the local restaurant in the complex also goes because there’s no more retail traffic to drive business. And then, that town center is essentially dead.

    I’ve definitely seen this out on Long Island where I grew up and where my parents still live. And in NYC, where I am, formerly thriving businesses are forced out due to rent increases, and then no one can afford to the rent so they stay vacant. The holding company writes this off as a tax loss rather than offering a more reasonable rent, so you just have dead spaces where there used to be thriving neighborhoods.

    It feels a little like physical media is the canary in the coal mine. I love the convenience of online ordering and I love being able to press a button on my TV to rent a stream instead of going out, but I also used to love to spend hours browsing media in stores and that’s just not really possible anymore. It’s insane that I live in a city as large as New York and that there isn’t a great place to go shopping for discs here. And while it appears that UPS, for example, has added an extra driver to handle the increase in packages that has coincided with the rise of online shopping, that one job doesn’t make up for all the jobs lost to store closings.
     
  13. sleroi

    sleroi Second Unit

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    Years ago I became a b&n member and got front loaded with a ton of coupons which I of course used during the criterion sale.

    I would also usually get one, sometimes two 20% off coupons a month. I used those to order warner archive titles or the occasional great deal, like the buster keaton box set.

    And once or twice a year they would send out a 30% off coupon.

    A couple of years ago they stopped allowing coupons during the criterion sale. (Still a good deal though, so I can't complain too much.) And this past year ive only gotten coupons every couple of months, and they have only been for 15% instead 20%. And most of the warner archive titles I'm interested in are $21.99 when in the past bn.com had them for $17.99

    So combine everything, and since I have most of the criterions I want and get new ones during the occasional flash sale, B&N has become somewhat obsolete.

    And the two locations near me seem to have much more DVD than blu on their shelves, new releases at full retail, and a pittance of catalog titles, just browsing isn't even interesting anymore.
     
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  14. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    People have always had the same lack of knowledge about what would replace the "old" way of doing things. Just because we don't "know" the answer (actually, we pretty much do in this case. The online model, or a hybrid of some sort) doesn't mean there is no answer. The bottom line is not "how many jobs does business X generate", but "how well does business X satisfy what people what", which is the whole point of being in business. If people truly were going to "miss" businesses such as B&N, it wouldn't be in the state it is now.
     
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  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I could not agree more. Nothing beats browsing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore for a couple of hours. Take a book you're interested in off the shelf, plop down in one of those comfy leather chairs (if you can find one unoccupied) and read for awhile. Sheer heaven.
     
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  16. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    It doesn't surprise me as Borders' demise surely helped B&N go long this long.

    Unfortunately, book stores will be a thing of the past like video stores although I have three Family Video stores close to me where I can rent new UHD BDs, but I don't expect them to last long either.
     
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  17. David Norman

    David Norman Producer

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    My usual plan is to get WAC during the 40% off sales using my membership and most often some coupons. Those aren't usually discounted for direct online sale, but using the Instore Ship to Home program around $10ea isn't unusual if the 15 or 20% coupons are available.
    Even without coupons $12+tax is simple. Even more important it allows about the only good prices on those WAC TV sets which virtually never are less than $25. Combining those sales with any discounted Gift Cards nets some shockingly good deals -- 10% is pretty easy and during Nov there is often at least a couple BN deals fro 15-20% off GC so I try to stock up and I can never seem to buy enough to get through July.
     
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  18. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    To an extent, that’s true, but I think there are other forces/factors in play in addition to supply/demand/desire for that service.

    Like I mentioned above, last time I wanted to buy something at B&N, the in store price was $15-20 more than the same item on their website, shipped for free. They’re charging extra in the store because of high rent from unsustainable real estate practices. So I’m being discouraged from buying a good at the store due to a greedy landlord raising rents to an unreasonable degree, not a lack of desire to buy the good at the store.
     
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  19. Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

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    The only things I buy from B&N these days are Criterion discs during the 50% off sales and magazines, because there are no more magazine stores in Manhattan. I don't buy books there anymore because the books I read now tend not to be at B&N, but they are available on Amazon. Besides, I've got enough books on the shelf (and in storage) waiting to be read to last me a couple of lifetimes.

    But when I bought books and discs (and tapes) regularly, I used to love traveling to stores in different spots in Manhattan after work just to browse, whether it was Coliseum Books at Columbus Circle (and later on 42 St. opposite Bryant Park); Virgin Megastore on Broadway/45th St. and 14th Street; Tower Records on B'way/67th St. and downtown on E. 4th St.; and...too many more to name. Now there's just Barnes & Noble on 5th Ave. and 46th St. and Union Square and Strand Books on 12th St.

    There's a Book Off on 45th Street with used books/CDs/DVDS and a Japanese video store on the same block (and my haircutter's on that block, too), so I go there regularly and I have reason to go to Union Square regularly, but there are numerous areas in Manhattan that I have no reason to visit anymore.

    And, yes, I do buy discs from Amazon once in a while.

    I had a FYE in my neighborhood that I used to buy from just to help keep them in business even if the prices were higher than on Amazon, but they were replaced by a Starbucks a year ago.
     
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  20. David Norman

    David Norman Producer

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    Some stores are apparently trying a new pilot program of PM their own site over the last month or two though I think you lose the 10% extra Member discount if you use that option. I'm guessing other coupons would still apply
     
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