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

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?

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Mike Frezon

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193 Comments

  1. Mike Frezon

    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?

    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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Josh Steinberg

    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.

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

  6. jcroy

    Where else are criterion titles plentiful offline?

    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

  7. Mike Frezon

    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?

    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.c…/w_670/GettyImages-927420710_Crop-for-web.jpg

  8. 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,

  9. RobertR

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

    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.

  10. 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.

  11. Josh Steinberg

    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.

    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.

  12. SAhmed

    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,

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. sleroi

    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

    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.

  15. RobertR

    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.

    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.

  16. 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.

  17. Josh Steinberg

    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.

    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

  18. Josh Steinberg

    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.

    It would be a mistake to attribute the decline of brick and mortar and the prices they charge solely to high rents. It would also be a mistake to attribute rent increases solely to "greed", but that's beyond the scope of this discussion. The fact is that the marketplace is changing for a number of reasons.

  19. Josh Steinberg

    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.

    I still miss J and R Music World which had probably the deepest catalogue of DVDs in the NY area. Also the large Tower Records in Lincoln Center and the Village. These places held more media than B&N and were my first places to browse back in the day. I still enjoy going to B&N for a coffee and biscotti but these days there is less media to browse in store. Most of my B&N purchases for media are through their website ship to store so I still get the 10% membership discount.

    Lately B&N has been promoting ordering online for in store pick up within one hour.

  20. So people here are upset that Barnes and Noble may go down because – they won't get the Criterion sales? Yikes. I think they're pretty much talking about brick and mortar here, not online. And anyone with a brain knows that the brick and mortar Barnes and Noble stores have been on the verge of closing for several years.

  21. BobO’Link

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

    I remember the days when even Best Buy carried the occasional Criterion!

  22. haineshisway

    So people here are upset that Barnes and Noble may go down because – they won't get the Criterion sales? Yikes. I think they're pretty much talking about brick and mortar here, not online. And anyone with a brain knows that the brick and mortar Barnes and Noble stores have been on the verge of closing for several years.

    I don't think the website would survive the demise of the brick and mortar stores other than the current owners selling the name.

  23. I would miss the reader-friendly atmosphere of the place, with cushy chairs scattered around so you could sit and peruse books until closing time, if you so desired. And they didn't mind your reading the magazines, either.

  24. Several Barnes and Noble stores have closed down in the L.A. area in recent years. The nearest one near me is in Glendale and I don't know how much longer that one will be open. And not all B&N stores sell physical media. While it's true that most online suppliers are cheaper (although the shipping costs often erase the savings), I love the spontaneity, immediacy and spur of the moment impulse shopping at brick and mortar stores. I can take it home and watch that night instead of waiting a week (or more) for it to arrive and by then the urge to watch it immediately may no longer be there and it waits months to get watched. I loved going to Tower Records and browsing for hours and L.A. people may remember the great Dave's video store in Studio City that started out with laser discs and moved over to DVDs. They knew me by name and it was personal. Sadly, online shopping and the proliferation of chain video stores (Blockbuster etc.) rendered Dave's obsolete. Tower went under soon after as did Virgin. Ain't progress wonderful? 🙁

  25. Garysb

    I don't think the website would survive the demise of the brick and mortar stores other than the current owners selling the name.

    I certainly wouldn't automatically expect BandN.com to far outlive the brick & mortars either. I would suspect it to go more like CircuitCity.com did.

  26. The thing about Barnes & Noble going down is that the effect would be similar to what would have happened if GM and Chrysler had been allowed to fail: the entire supply chain would have been thrown into disarray. Without Barnes & Noble the entire publishing industry model would be obsolete overnight. In a world with just independent bookstores and Amazon, things change very quickly and probably not for the better.

    I currently buy around 80 percent of my books through Barnes & Noble, and probably 15-20 percent of my physical media (CDs & Blu-Rays. I usually only buy from Amazon if I've exhausted my other options — my reasoning being that if I want alternatives to Amazon, I need to support them with my dollars. Amazon has gotten too big, and if the Disney/Amazon feud has shown us anything, it's that it is not afraid to use its market share to intimidate suppliers.

    If Barnes & Noble does go out, I'd turn to my local independent bookstores, even if that means paying significantly more per title.

  27. The opinion piece stated of the Barnes and Noble survival plan "The company’s leaders claim that they have a turnaround plan, based on smaller, more appealing stores focused on books" so who knows if media will still be a part of the brick and mortar stores going forward. Smaller B&N locations already don't have a separate media section though all seem to sell at least some Vinyl LPs. Though I think if they eliminate the cafe and free Wi-Fi that would reduce traffic significantly.

  28. Our local Barnes & Noble is in the mall where our AMC is.

    Last June, I went in there twice. Once, I was really early for a movie and ended up buying a new hardcover bestseller for 20% off because it was there. Amazon had the same book for 40% off if I had just come home and ordered it.

    A week later, I discovered that a book I badly wanted, due to publish on July 4, actually didn't have a "firm" on-sale date and was already appearing in Barnes & Noble stores. I really wanted it, so I went out there to get it and paid full retail ($25.95) for the opportunity to read it immediately. If I had kept my Amazon pre-order of the book, which I would have gotten on July 5 due to the holiday, the price would have been $17.07. But I really wanted it.

    Also, recently, the AMC remodeled, and I no longer approve of their wheelchair seating, so I don't go to that movie theater anymore, which has basically eliminated the need for me to go to that mall.

    While I don't necessarily regret either of these purchases, it's hard for me to rationalize regularly going out of the way to the store in order to pay more money for books that I can get cheaper online without going anywhere. If I did that on a frequent basis, I would be able to afford to get less books overall than I am now since I get most of them on Amazon with discounting.

  29. I think businesses that don't meet consumer desires should be allowed to fail. That should be the consequence of not meeting those desires. Meeting them should be rewarded. It doesn't mean a given person has to like the result, but meeting consumer desires should always be the goal, and nothing should be allowed to interfere with it.

  30. (More generally).

    Even for paper books, over the past decade or so I've found the big box bookstores like (the former) Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc … hardly ever stocked anything I'm interested in. Only amazon seems to carry such titles.

    So I've had no incentive to even walk into an offline big box bookstore for many years.

  31. Their struggle isn't new. I do hope that they can adapt. I have found good deals with their coupons and still buy movies and cds there beyond the coupons if the price is reasonable, or close to elsewhere. It's too bad that their store prices can't match the online ones – use their website to help leverage physical stores. Each can help the other.

  32. I try to buy blurays at B&N as much as possible. Thankfully the one closest to me has a fairly large collection of blurays including a large portion of the Criterion collection. I've also picked up a few vinyl records there as well. I don't really buy books there because for whatever reason, most of the books I enjoy reading (when I have time) were published years ago and are either out of print or easily obtainable (Greek&Roman classics) from an independent book store (which trumps buying a book from B&N).

  33. BN dumped their store closet to my location because of a high rent, and yet this store was a big draw anchor for the outdoor mall it was a part of. You'd think the mall owners would have wanted to keep it there for the traffic it brought and given them a lease break, but they just went for the rent number, and now it's just another clothing store with a fraction of the traffic that BN brought. Don't get it.

    I just bought a hardback book on sale for 30% off (Jon Meachum's Soul of America) at the next closest BN about 25 minutes away, and then came home to find a 20% in-store coupon for BN. So, I spent 22 when I could have ordered it for 15. But so what. I had the book in hand and was reading it that same night and I want people to keep writing good books and stores to keep selling hard copies. We've all got to do our parts. After a while this whole need for a deal thing gets nuts.

    If you think about it, we spend so much time chasing a 'deal' to gloat or feel good about, we lose sight of the true value of the media to us in the first place. The ease and quantity of purchase reality has made us so discount or coupon crazy to the point where we talk more about saving a few bucks here and there than we do the content that attracted or inspired us in the first place.

    And we used to do crazy shit like drive an extra half hour to get a better deal at one location versus another, completely oblivious to the time and energy costs incurred. If we had spent that extra little time at our paying gigs earning more money, it would've more than covered the difference.

    We are a strange bunch. Someone should write a book about it.

  34. Hollywoodaholic

    And we used to do crazy shit like drive an extra half hour to get a better deal at one location versus another, completely oblivious to the time and energy costs incurred. If we had spent that extra little time at our paying gigs earning more money, it would've more than covered the difference.

    (On a tangent).

    Over the years I've gradually come to the realization that I was walking out empty handed too often, whenever I went on excursions around town checking out various shops for cds/dvds/blurays, books, etc …. After awhile it seemed like I was mostly wasting cash on gasoline, toll fees, parking fees, etc … without buying much of anything.

  35. Woolworths, Montgomery Wards, Circuit City, Tower Records, Camelot Music, Sharper Image, Borders, Blockbuster,….all places that I have great memories shopping in person and now..gone with the wind!

  36. atcolomb

    Woolworths, Montgomery Wards, Circuit City, Tower Records, Camelot Music, Sharper Image, Borders, Blockbuster,….all places that I have great memories shopping in person and now..gone with the wind!

    Sam The Record Man, A&A Records & Tapes, CD Plus, and so many others now all but fading memories of a bygone youth!

    CHEERS! 🙂

  37. Same can be said of any brand/company of yesteryear that is no longer in use or a shadow of its former self.

    In the computers workstations of yesteryear, there was: Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, DEC, Nextstep, etc …

  38. jcroy

    Same can be said of any brand/company of yesteryear that is no longer in use or a shadow of its former self.

    In the computers workstations of yesteryear, there was: Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, DEC, Nextstep, etc …

    The difference is that other tech companies rose up to take their place. If Barnes & Noble goes under, there are a lot of cities in America that won't have a physical bookstore left.

  39. atcolomb

    Woolworths, Montgomery Wards, Circuit City, Tower Records, Camelot Music, Sharper Image, Borders, Blockbuster,….all places that I have great memories shopping in person and now..gone with the wind!

    Sam Goody , Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Savemart , B Dalton, J And R Music World, CD World , etc . Depressing !!!

  40. I worked at a bookstore in the mall in my teens. Wonderful experience for me. As a result I love going to malls or brick and mortar stores. I started selling books, movies and music on eBay in 2006. Added Amazon and some other sites and it became a full time job. Now I can’t help but think I am part of the reason these stores are closing up. A small part but nevertheless still a part.

    2nd and Charles is part of Books-a-million. Almost the same a a BAM store but they sell and buy used media. Books, CDs, records, video games, etc. Obviously their model is working for them. They have been opening new stores every year for the past 10 years or so. We just had one open here in my town in an area that is the highest $$$ per square foot. I frequent these stores a lot. I find a lot of inventory to sell online. And occasionally I find something for my collection, books or movies.

    FYE is another chain I try to shop but their prices are usually too high for resale. On a recent trip I did buy the Blu-ray of Chopping Mall for my collection. Their price was about the same as Amazon and I just felt it was fun to buy it at a brick and mortar, in the mall to boot.

    I think there are ways for these stores to save themselves but they have to be willing to adapt.

  41. Vic Pardo

    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.

    There are a FEW big magazine stores left in NY (though I miss all the ones that Universal News used to have around town). Two are on 37th Street, one off of Fifth Avenue, and one closer to Seventh Avenue. And there's a small shop with a big selection on W12th Street and 8th Avenue. I like these stores because they get a lot of my favorite UK music mags like Mojo and Uncut before B&N does.

    But I miss all the old stores now gone : Tower, Virgin, HMV, and especially J&R Music World

  42. Garysb

    I still miss J and R Music World which had probably the deepest catalogue of DVDs in the NY area. Also the large Tower Records in Lincoln Center and the Village. These places held more media than B&N and were my first places to browse back in the day. I still enjoy going to B&N for a coffee and biscotti but these days there is less media to browse in store. Most of my B&N purchases for media are through their website ship to store so I still get the 10% membership discount.

    Lately B&N has been promoting ordering online for in store pick up within one hour.

    J&R was the best, especially when they had the basement video section, that as you said, had the largest catalog selection of DVDs and then blu-rays in NYC. Plus the music section was exemplary

  43. SeanSKA

    J&R was the best, especially when they had the basement video section, that as you said, had the largest catalog selection of DVDs and then blu-rays in NYC. Plus the music section was exemplary

    I never went to J&R. Why did I not know about the basement video section? How did that completely escape my radar? 🙁

  44. It will be very bad if B&N folds and if others follow it will be even worse! People will learn the hard way that it is better to actually own the physical copy of something instead of paying for a viewing license where you own nothing. Then every time your kindle or tablet dies you have to buy another one and you have to keep it charged or no reading. There is no denying the convince factor but that doesn’t mean your getting the best product and IMHO not good for society. I say this because people do not get out and interact with other people they just click the mouse or press the button on the touch screen and done. This is something that died with the death of music stores because you do not go to the store and look around or interact with anyone but instead now just pay for a license and download or stream it. I realize that there are some stores here and there but basically music stores are still dead. Society may have more convenience and be more connected via the internet but are at the same time getting more and more disconnected from each other every day.

  45. Garysb

    The opinion piece stated of the Barnes and Noble survival plan "The company’s leaders claim that they have a turnaround plan, based on smaller, more appealing stores focused on books" so who knows if media will still be a part of the brick and mortar stores going forward. Smaller B&N locations already don't have a separate media section though all seem to sell at least some Vinyl LPs. Though I think if they eliminate the cafe and free Wi-Fi that would reduce traffic significantly.

    The appealing thing about Barnes & Noble stores (just like with the former Borders stores) is their size and selection. If the executives think that we want Barnes & Noble replaced by B. Dalton (its smaller corporate sibling), they may find that the road to bankruptcy is a whole lot shorter…

  46. Yeah, the main reason to visit B&N is to browse the large selection. If they go the route of the small independent stores, where everything is full list price and most items have to be "special ordered", they may as well just close up now. I don't walk into a store wanting to place an order, I want the item in my hand now. I'm capable of ordering it myself, if that's what I wanted to do.

  47. Vic Pardo

    I never went to J&R. Why did I not know about the basement video section? How did that completely escape my radar? 🙁

    Oh man, you missed something good. When J&R had almost all of the block on Park Row, for several years there was one building that had 2 floors of music, and a whole basement area of DVDs and Blu-rays. They used to have a lot of good sales as well, often by label. Eventually, they consolidated the video area with the music section, before sadly, closing down forever….But for several years, it was good while it lasted

  48. I find that the blu-rays/DVDs/CDs, and for that matter books, that I want to buy are almost never at a B&M store. I will therefore not apologize for giving Amazon my business. They get other business as well, such as the shave cream I use (Gillette Foamy Lemon/Lime). I gave up trying after CVS in the next county, who was the only one who carried it, took it off the shelves. Amazon, of course, had it — 12-pack for just over $20. B&M stores generally prefer to carry several different brands of the same item rather than anything different. They have only themselves to blame for losing my business.

  49. RobertR

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

    No, it's more complex than that. Because when Main Streets and shopping malls don't have book stores (or record stores), it makes books and music seem less important because they're less visible. Kids grow up thinking that media isn't important because they don't see it.

    In addition, when physical retailers go under, it's not just their store that's negatively impacted (and their workers). Other retailers in proximity also have reduced sales. And once you have a commercial street or mall with lots of empty stores, it quickly becomes a ghost town. In addition, because there's more competition for retail jobs, wages decline and that tends to put more people below the poverty level because retailers get away with paying minimum wage, which in most (if not all) places in the U.S. is not a livable wage.

    My bet is that all the people who complain about the death of much physical retail are buying online. I live in an apartment building with over 200 apartments. We get 50 packages a day. Those are all products that aren't being purchased at local physical retail. In the coming years, I expect to see 30% empty stores on the shopping streets near me. We're going to be left primarily with banks, restaurants, Starbucks, fast food, drug stores, walk-in medical clinics and 99 cent stores. Much else will disappear. An article in the L.A. Times a year ago predicted that 25% of shopping malls will close in the next five years. E-commerce isn't the only reason for that, but it's a major reason.

    Now I don't blame the people in my building for buying books or records online because Barnes & Noble closed every store in my borough and there are no viable competitors anywhere near by. Personally, I think it's kind of shocking that in a borough of NYC with a population of 2.36 million people, there isn't a single decent book or record store left.

    Also, put a bunch of items into your Amazon wish list and use the Notes feature to track prices over time. What you'll see is that on average, Amazon increases prices. And while they have a reputation for low prices, the reality is quite different as an awful lot of product is sold at list price. As they put physical retail out of business, prices will definitely rise more.

  50. Thomas Newton

    The appealing thing about Barnes & Noble stores (just like with the former Borders stores) is their size and selection. If the executives think that we want Barnes & Noble replaced by B. Dalton (its smaller corporate sibling), they may find that the road to bankruptcy is a whole lot shorter…

    The fact is that both books and music are hit-driven businesses and these 20,000 sq ft stores are not viable in today's market. In a top location, a 20,000 sq ft store can cost $4 million a year in rent ($11,000 a day!) When I was a kid in the 60's, I bought my paperbacks (largely James Bond, Edgar Rice Burroughs and some classic horror) at a tiny 2-aisle bookshop in the Bronx. It was all I needed.

    With proper selection and buying, it's possible to have a really great media store in a small space.

    In 2017, the top 100 best selling Blu-rays constituted 54.2% of all Blu-ray units sold and 72.6% of all Blu-ray revenue. The top 200 probably constituted over 80% of revenue. You don't need to stock very deep to satisfy the needs of most consumers.

  51. zoetmb

    No, it's more complex than that. Because when Main Streets and shopping malls don't have book stores (or record stores), it makes books and music seem less important because they're less visible. Kids grow up thinking that media isn't important because they don't see it.

    In addition, when physical retailers go under, it's not just their store that's negatively impacted (and their workers). Other retailers in proximity also have reduced sales. And once you have a commercial street or mall with lots of empty stores, it quickly becomes a ghost town. In addition, because there's more competition for retail jobs, wages decline and that tends to put more people below the poverty level because retailers get away with paying minimum wage, which in most (if not all) places in the U.S. is not a livable wage.

    Sorry, I don't buy what you're saying. We live in an age where books (the actual text, not "paper bound together") are more accessible than ever. I loved reading as a kid. At my school, we had bookworms made of paper rings. Mine was the longest one. I didn't read because I saw lots of bookstores. I don't even remember seeing a bookstore as a kid. I read because I loved to read. If someone had told my 10 year old self "Hey Bobby, here's a device that you can hold in your hand. It has THOUSANDS of books on it", I would NOT have said "nah, not interested, because it didn't come from a bookstore". I would have eagerly taken the device. I read every day on the train to work, not because I spend hours in bookstores, but because a vast amount of reading material is so readily available electronically. If today's kids aren't reading, it's because of factors having nothing to do with the presence or absence of bookstores. For that matter, it can hardly be said that news is less important to people because they don't buy newspapers

    The same goes for music. Essentially the entire history of recorded music is readily available in a manner scarcely dreamed of decades ago. That hardly makes music seem "less important". In fact, we're in something of a golden age with respect to access to books, music, and movies.

    As for your talk of "ghost towns" and "livable wages", I think you're expounding a form of the Broken Window Fallacy. You point to the empty storefronts, which are very visible, and you say "see how destructive trend X is!", while ignoring the jobs created by that trend (I could cite many many examples of this sort of thing occurring in the past, and it's hardly made us poorer with respect to what's available to us). And I have to state yet again, no business exists to "create jobs". It exists to satisfy consumer wants. The desire for books, music, and movies is satisfied better than EVER. That's the whole point.

  52. I wonder what percentage of kids under 18 like to read today vs 40 years ago. I’d be shocked if they were even close. So many things compete for kids’ attention today, mainly internet/cellphones/video games. I’ve read Japan is worried about the future of their population because most young guys aren’t even interested in chasing girls, all they want to do is play video games.
    I’m no psychologist but it seems the very fabric of society is changing, not for the better.

  53. Jasper70

    I wonder what percentage of kids under 18 like to read today vs 40 years ago. I’d be shocked if they were even close. So many things compete for kids’ attention today, mainly internet/cellphones/video games. I’ve read Japan is worried about the future of their population because most young guys aren’t even interested in chasing girls, all they want to do is play video games.
    I’m no psychologist but it seems the very fabric of society is changing, not for the better.

    (Without getting into politics).

    I'm sure this is a concern just about anywhere, where the death/birth replacement rate is around 1:1 or worse.
    .

  54. RobertR

    As for your talk of "ghost towns" and "livable wages", I think you're expounding a form of the Broken Window Fallacy. You point to the empty storefronts, which are very visible, and you say "see how destructive trend X is!", while ignoring the jobs created by that trend (I could cite many many examples of this sort of thing occurring in the past, and it's hardly made us poorer with respect to what's available to us).

    Isn't it just as much of a fallacy to believe that current changes will continue to be beneficial just because previous ones have been?

  55. Worth

    Isn't it just as much of a fallacy to believe that current changes will continue to be beneficial just because previous ones have been?

    The change we’re talking about is occurring because of the process of constant innovation, of trying new and better ways of satisfying human wants. If people freely decide that the new way is better, then it is better, by definition. Some may not agree that it’s better, but other people aren’t obliged to agree with them. The worst possible thing would be to coercively prevent such innovation and prevent people from freely make the choice to embrace it.

    In what way are books, music, and movies not more accessible than ever before? How can such greater accessibility possibly be bad?

  56. atcolomb

    Woolworths, Montgomery Wards, Circuit City, Tower Records, Camelot Music, Sharper Image, Borders, Blockbuster,….all places that I have great memories shopping in person and now..gone with the wind!

    Comp USA, Hollywood Video, Sam Goody's, Sound Warehouse

  57. I thought Amazon was working quite hard to kill off Barnes and Noble and this was fully intentional. Didn't they also say they would open an Amazon retail store anywhere a Barnes and Noble closed it's doors at one point?

  58. RobertR

    The change we’re talking about is occurring because of the process of constant innovation, of trying new and better ways of satisfying human wants. If people freely decide that the new way is better, then it is better, by definition. Some may not agree that it’s better, but other people aren’t obliged to agree with them. The worst possible thing would be to coercively prevent such innovation and prevent people from freely make the choice to embrace it.

    In what way are books, music, and movies not more accessible than ever before? How can such greater accessibility possibly be bad?

    Depends which side of the fence you happen to be on. Ask working musicians and writers who aren't at the absolute top of the pyramid their take on it. The music and publishing industries have tanked in the last decade and the film industry is in in decline, as well. Television is booming at the moment, but that looks like a bubble that's going to burst sometime soon. We seem to be moving towards a world where jobs in the arts will no longer be professions, but hobbies for the already independently wealthy – and I'd argue that's a bad thing.

  59. I would also not be happy if B & N went under, BUT just this small thread shows the huge problem -in my opinion – this is mostly a “I shop there when Criterion titles are 50% off!!!!” conversation. I do this also, but outside of twice a year what does that say? Nobody here wants to build their Criterions at full price which what they are outside of the sale weeks In this day and age it’s no wonder they are in trouble.

  60. Worth

    We seem to be moving towards a world where jobs in the arts will no longer be professions, but hobbies for the already independently wealthy – and I'd argue that's a bad thing.

    It seems to me that what the film and music industry has done is follow the path that we as a society have been following which is to place financial gain ahead of all else. We are "jackpot" obsessed. Even film audiences today look at the financial take of a film to gauge if a film is any good or not. If a lot of people buy it it must be good, right? No, not right. However, whatever there is left of "Hollywood" would to prefer to put up big money on a sequel, prequel, or Star Wars film than throw a much smaller amount of cash at some new stand alone idea. They want to hit the jackpot and so does everybody else it seems.

    Rising rents are sending the retail industry the way of the dinosaurs. Kim's Video in New York, once one of the great places to shop for movies and music, closed their doors because the rent skyrocketed. They talked about looking for a new deal somewhere else but the store had already moved and thought the prospect was unlikely and even if they could secure an affordable rent it would not last long.

    The retail business is now based on trying to find a niche that works to support the rent. Something that people will go to a local retail store to purchase rather than just ordering off the world wide web. In New England we had a chain of retail music and movie stores called Newbury Comics. Now those stores are primarily clothing and knickknack shops with a tiny section dedicated to physical media. This was done because the owners of the stores felt they could not keep up with the ability to online shop for compact discs, dvds, and blu-rays. So, in order to stay in business they looked for a different niche they could fill.

    Most people no longer live in a way where they have "disposable" cash to spend on luxuries like music and movies. So, the purchasing of these items is more carefully conducted. People look for deals, wait for sales, purchase used media. Retail stores have to charge more because it costs them more to maintain an inventory and pay rent.

    People want to pay less for these things because what they earn no longer goes as far as it once did. I don't think human beings have changed in wanting to hear music, see films, be entertained but the world has changed in such a way that it now favors the wealthy and crushes everybody else.

    We live in a jackpot world of cash and prizes…

  61. Nobody wants to buy anything at full price anymore. I'm hugely resistant to paying full price for books and media unless it's something I've been unable to find after looking elsewhere, or I really, really want it at this very moment.

    I don't think I've ever bought a blu/DVD at full price at B&N, and I seldom buy books unless they're marked down in some way (such as at Costco or Walmart). Mostly I get them second-hand at Goodwill, the B&N used/bargain book annex, charity book sales, or the book exchange in my office.

  62. Malcolm R

    Nobody wants to buy anything at full price anymore.

    Nope, and one thing the internet did was make it really easy to bargain shop. You can different pricing on an item from hundreds or thousands of sellers in just a few minutes of searching. No driving from store to store. No getting off the couch.

  63. Worth

    Depends which side of the fence you happen to be on. Ask working musicians and writers who aren't at the absolute top of the pyramid their take on it. The music and publishing industries have tanked in the last decade and the film industry is in in decline, as well. Television is booming at the moment, but that looks like a bubble that's going to burst sometime soon. We seem to be moving towards a world where jobs in the arts will no longer be professions, but hobbies for the already independently wealthy – and I'd argue that's a bad thing. But then, every revolution has its victims.

    Again, you place the emphasis on jobs, not whether human wants are being satisfied. Is plenty of music, television, movies, and writing available to people? Yes, more so than EVER before, yet you seem to be contending that that’s somehow a bad thing. The quality of some of today’s creative output and its effect on how popular it is can be debated, but that’s a different discussion having nothing to do with technical innovation, which hardly repeals Sturgeon’s Law. You seem to be implying that technical innovation will bring about the end of writing, music, and TV and movie production, an apocalyptic prediction that’s unsupported (classical radio station KUSC does plenty of interviews with bright young musicians who show no signs of thinking that what they enjoy doing will just be a “hobby”).

    As for saying that revolutions have “victims”, you’ll excuse me for not worrying that there were “victims” of the change from candles to gas lighting, from gas lighting to electric, from horses to automobiles (large cities used to be covered in thousands of tons of horse dung), from typewriters to computers, etc . etc. etc. The alternative to such innovations would be to attempt to “freeze” the economy at some arbitrary point, a policy which would condemn us to enormous stagnation and impoverishment.

  64. So many thoughts from reading this post, especially since I am coming home from the Strand, where I sold a few unwanted books I inherited, and 10 cds I purchased years ago but never opened. Then I walked to Barnes and Noble since members get 20% off their entire purchase this weekend!

    Yes, I could have ordered the 3 books I bought online, but a) Amazon's poor packaging always bangs up my books and b) I love to get off the couch and leave the house to shop, especially since the Farmer's Market was in Union Square today!

    As I look around this N train, everybody is on their phone, but the ones closest to me seem to be playing video games. As usual. My guess is that few are accessing that aforementioned great supply of music and literature in their hand. This IS a change from days gone bye, as I am old enough to recall being on the same train and noticing almost 20 people simultaneously reading the hardcover of Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe, (R.I.P.)

  65. The "N" is my train!

    I don't often see an entire train reading anymore — but every now and then, it'll happen. Whenever there's a new Harry Potter book I'd see everyone reading it. When the published version of the Harry Potter play came out a year or two ago, I would see tons of people on the train reading that. But you're right, I can't think of a more recent time when I saw that many people reading the same thing in the same space.

  66. Josh Steinberg

    But you're right, I can't think of a more recent time when I saw that many people reading the same thing in the same space.

    Back in the day when I was young, I remember seeing many people read The Thorn Birds on the bus or underground.

    After that, there was less and less "uniformity" in books I recall seeing. (I didn't use the bus or underground as much over the years).

  67. RobertR

    Sorry, I don't buy what you're saying. We live in an age where books (the actual text, not "paper bound together") are more accessible than ever. I loved reading as a kid. At my school, we had bookworms made of paper rings. Mine was the longest one. I didn't read because I saw lots of bookstores. I don't even remember seeing a bookstore as a kid. I read because I loved to read. If someone had told my 10 year old self "Hey Bobby, here's a device that you can hold in your hand. It has THOUSANDS of books on it", I would NOT have said "nah, not interested, because it didn't come from a bookstore". I would have eagerly taken the device. I read every day on the train to work, not because I spend hours in bookstores, but because a vast amount of reading material is so readily available electronically. If today's kids aren't reading, it's because of factors having nothing to do with the presence or absence of bookstores. For that matter, it can hardly be said that news is less important to people because they don't buy newspapers

    The same goes for music. Essentially the entire history of recorded music is readily available in a manner scarcely dreamed of decades ago. That hardly makes music seem "less important". In fact, we're in something of a golden age with respect to access to books, music, and movies.

    As for your talk of "ghost towns" and "livable wages", I think you're expounding a form of the Broken Window Fallacy. You point to the empty storefronts, which are very visible, and you say "see how destructive trend X is!", while ignoring the jobs created by that trend (I could cite many many examples of this sort of thing occurring in the past, and it's hardly made us poorer with respect to what's available to us). And I have to state yet again, no business exists to "create jobs". It exists to satisfy consumer wants. The desire for books, music, and movies is satisfied better than EVER. That's the whole point.

    Your own experience is nice, and somewhat similar to mine except that physical media stores were extremely important to my love for reading and music, but anecdotal. The massive accessibility to books and music has not increased demand. U.S. book consumption has been flat over the last few years (which means per capita has declined since the population has increased) and music consumption is in massive decline. (I'm not claiming a direct relationship between the increased accessibility to media and the decline in reading and music consumption as there are certainly other factors, like the dumbing down of America and incredibly bad commercial music radio, but I will still maintain that the dearth of physical retail is a factor). All you have to do is to look at book and record sales (including streaming and e-books) in the U.S. E-book sales are actually in decline from both a user and a penetration rate. According to Statista, there were 91.9 million U.S. e-book users in 2016 and that's expected to decline to 87.8 million by 2022, decreasing the penetration rate from 28.4% to 26.1%. One of the things that's helped to kill B&N was the failure of their e-book reader.

    The U.S. record industry was $8.723 billion in 2017 (including downloading, streaming and Sound Exchange royalty revenue). It was $14.6 billion in 1999 and that's not even adjusting for inflation. That $14.6 is the equivalent of $21.8 billion in current dollars so the music industry is at the equivalent of 40% of its former peak. Availability isn't helping it – it's killing it.

    Another factor is that music and video are hit-driven businesses, so while massive accessibility to deep inventory sounds great, it doesn't really have a practical effect. The top X titles take a vast majority of the revenue, so while deep inventory sounds wonderful and I certainly appreciated large book and record stores, you actually don't need very many titles to service most of the needs of consumers. Most of Amazon's stock doesn't sell at all and one day they're going to wake up to the fact that they're spending enormous amounts of money on warehouse space for products that never leave the warehouse.

    In the physical video industry, just looking at Blu-ray and UHD, in 2017, the top 100 titles took 54.2% of all industry units and 72.6% of all industry revenue. Extrapolating, 300 titles could probably get to 77% of all industry units sold and amazingly close to 100% of industry revenue. This is no surprise as an even far smaller number of theatrical releases take most of the tickets and revenue.

  68. zoetmb

    Another factor is that music and video are hit-driven businesses, so while massive accessibility to deep inventory sounds great, it doesn't really have a practical effect. The top X titles take a vast majority of the revenue, so while deep inventory sounds wonderful and I certainly appreciated large book and record stores, you actually don't need very many titles to service most of the needs of consumers. Most of Amazon's stock doesn't sell at all and one day they're going to wake up to the fact that they're spending enormous amounts of money on warehouse space for products that never leave the warehouse.

    At times I wonder whether the first week sales is the most important for a new dvd/bluray release.

    After that it just collects dust?

  69. In the case of music, at times I wonder how much the major record companies are actually making from all those $5 dump bin catalog cds such as Michael Jackson, Guns N Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, etc … at wallyworld, etc …

    I suppose one could ask the same question of all those $5 catalog movie dvds (or blurays).

  70. zoetmb

    Your own experience is nice, and somewhat similar to mine except that physical media stores were extremely important to my love for reading and music, but anecdotal.

    My experience is anecdotal, but it stands to reason that kids wouldn’t get into reading lots of books because of the prominent presence of bookstores. Their initial exposure is via school and libraries. It’s not as if kids just starting to read are the primary purchasing demographic for bookstores. They simply can’t afford to buy a lot of books. I’ve seen no evidence that the number of libraries has declined.

    The massive accessibility to books and music has not increased demand. U.S. book consumption has been flat over the last few years (which means per capita has declined since the population has increased) and music consumption is in massive decline. (I'm not claiming a direct relationship between the increased accessibility to media and the decline in reading and music consumption as there are certainly other factors, like the dumbing down of America and incredibly bad commercial music radio, but I will still maintain that the dearth of physical retail is a factor).

    I think the factors other than physical retail you mentioned are unquestionably a huge cause of these changes. I never said that availability=demand, only that kids (and everyone else) have greater access to books than ever before if they want them. THAT is what matters, not how much money a given company makes. It just doesn’t make sense to think that a kid won’t be interested in reading say, Treasure Island simply because there’s no bookstore nearby. It would be easier for him to get it now than ever. It’s the other things vying for his attention that are the real cause of his disinterest, not the absence of physical retail.

    All you have to do is to look at book and record sales (including streaming and e-books) in the U.S. E-book sales are actually in decline from both a user and a penetration rate. According to Statista, there were 91.9 million U.S. e-book users in 2016 and that's expected to decline to 87.8 million by 2022, decreasing the penetration rate from 28.4% to 26.1%. One of the things that's helped to kill B&N was the failure of their e-book reader.

    The U.S. record industry was $8.723 billion in 2017 (including downloading, streaming and Sound Exchange royalty revenue). It was $14.6 billion in 1999 and that's not even adjusting for inflation. That

    $14.6 is the equivalent of $21.8 billion in current dollars so the music industry is at the equivalent of 40% of its former peak. Availability isn't helping it – it's killing it.

    You’re using flawed logic here. Correlation does not equal causation. There are far too many variables and potential causes for these changes to declare something like “the way to save the book and music industry is to save retail bookstores!” I think all this emphasis on physical retail as some sort of “salvation” of books and music has it backwards. A cartoon I once saw illustrates the point: One bumper sticker said “Buy what America builds!” The other said “Build what America buys!” Building lots of bookstores, or anything else for that matter, doesn’t magically create demand for them. What matters is what people actually choose to buy (or not buy), and how they buy it, not what others think they “should” buy or how they should buy it. Cable TV subscriptions are down, broadcast TV viewership is down. Is that a “crisis”? Should people “worry” about TV revenue? No. It just means that the market for TV is changing. People have greater TV choices than ever, just like they have greater music and movie choices. Choice is good. What people choose is a different discussion.

  71. RobertR

    Building lots of bookstores, or anything else for that matter, doesn’t magically create demand for them. What matters is what people actually choose to buy (or not buy), and how they buy it, not what others think they “should” buy or how they should buy it. Cable TV subscriptions are down, broadcast TV viewership is down. Is that a “crisis”? Should people “worry” about TV revenue? No. It just means that the market for TV is changing. People have greater TV choices than ever, just like they have greater music and book choices. Choice is good. What people choose is a different discussion.

    The issue is when market dominance leads to market distortions. Amazon can afford to outprice the competition, and as a result, sales flow to them. But once the competition goes out of business, Amazon can hike prices back up again. At the end of the process, consumers might be paying more than they paid before Amazon. So the company that's best at meeting short-term consumer desires might not be the best at meeting long-term consumer desires. But by the time we get to the long-term, there isn't any meaningful alternatives left.

  72. Adam Lenhardt

    The issue is when market dominance leads to market distortions. Amazon can afford to outprice the competition, and as a result, sales flow to them. But once the competition goes out of business, Amazon can hike prices back up again. At the end of the process, consumers might be paying more than they paid before Amazon. So the company that's best at meeting short-term consumer desires might not be the best at meeting long-term consumer desires. But by the time we get to the long-term, there isn't any meaningful alternatives left.

    I find it astounding and counter to logic to say that a company should be punished for lowering its prices. In the Alcoa Aluminum antitrust case, the government lawyers actually tried to argue that the company was “evil” for doing everything in its power to keep lowering the price of aluminum and keeping it that way. To say that a CONSTANT effort to lower prices is bad is little short of Orwellian.

    A frequent retort is “what about Standard Oil? They were evil! They monopolized!” The problem is that relatively few people bother to read the history of what actually happened. It refutes the “lowering prices will forever annihilate competition” theory.

    I’ve read about the history of the company. I quote from an article about it:

    The mechanism of predatory exploitation of consumers requires substantial monopoly power that is used to increase prices, thereby reducing the outputs sold. But Standard Oil had no initial market power, with only about 4 percent of the market in 1870. Its output and market share grew as its superior efficiency dramatically lowered its refining costs (by 1897, they were less than one-tenth of their level in 1869), and it passed on the efficiency savings in sharply reduced prices for refined oil (which fell from over 30 cents per gallon in 1869, to 10 cents in 1874, to 8 cents in 1885, and to 5.9 cents in 1897). It never achieved a monopoly (in 1911, the year of the Supreme Court decision, Standard Oil had roughly 150 competitors, including Texaco and Gulf) that would enable it to monopolistically boost consumer prices. So it can hardly be argued seriously that Rockefeller pursued a predatory strategy involving massive losses for decades without achieving the alleged monopoly payoff, which was the source of supposed consumer harm.

    The article further points out:

    predatory pricing costs the supposed predator far more than it costs the prey, who can further expand the cost difference by temporarily shutting down. Unless the predator is allowed to buy up a victim driven to bankruptcy, others can buy up those assets cheaply, thus allowing them to again compete with the predator and reenter effective competition. Without the ability to prevent entry once monopoly pricing is attempted, the monopoly payoff disappears. Because it requires monopoly power to finance predation, predation cannot be the source of monopoly power

    That’s not theory. That’s historical fact. Standard Oil’s market share declined PRIOR to passage of the Sherman Act. It could not and did not prevent competition. It got big because it was better, more efficient than its competitors. Again, it defies logic to say that such efficiency is bad.

    There are other examples, among many. Sears used to be the largest retailer in the US. Of course that meant they used their “market power” to stifle competition, right? Wrong. They’re on the verge of going out of business. Millions of dollars were wasted on an antitrust case against IBM, because it was supposedly an unstoppable colossus that would dominate the computer business forever. We all know that didn’t happen. Microsoft, one of the key factors in destroying IBM’s dominance, was itself supposedly evil (which should be considered ludicrous on its face) because it literally gave away a product for free (Internet Explorer). Of course, MS doing that HAD to mean that no other browser could POSSIBLY be available to people FOREVER, right? What does the actual history of browser market share show? Hint: It doesn’t favor MS.

    What people keep forgetting is that it is not and never was about keeping any one company in business or some predefined “optimum” number of businesses. It’s about satisfying consumer wants. The ONLY way Amazon can continue to dominate is if it KEEPS its prices low, KEEPS being efficient, KEEPS satisfying consumer wants. If it fails to do so (and/or some other company simply beats it at its own game), it will lose its dominance . If that happens, it won’t bother me any more than what’s happening to B&N. BTW, I mean that as a rebuke to anyone who thinks I say these things because I’m “biased in favor of business”, ignoring what I said in the first sentence of this paragraph. I say efficient, innovative companies that lower prices should be rewarded, and companies that aren’t those things shouldn’t be. I cannot fathom why anyone would think that position is wrong, because it is pro-consumer, not “pro-business.”

    BTW, there is one way that a business can obtain and keep a monopoly without being efficient, innovative, etc., and that’s by having government use its power to protect it for “the good of all” (which of course is just a smokescreen for favoring a PRIVATE interest). It never ceases to amaze me that so many people do an about face in that case and start extolling the virtues of keeping out competition.

  73. This is of direct relevance to me since a brand new B&N opened in my still nascent ex-urbs quasi-planned walkable neighborhood. (1L for those of you in NoVA, somewhat akin to Reston Town Center, only not high-rise oriented and not as big). It's the new store concept: smaller than the anchor stores at big malls, focused on books, with a continued strong emphasis on "curation" with tables in the entry space of selected books of various themes. I actually discovered a favorite author had a new fourth book in his trilogy. (Which I then bought from Audible.) It has no music or movies that I've seen. And it has a large section for a Starbucks / casual restaurant. The B&N also has a focus on events: a friend who recently self-published her first novel is having a book signing at the B&N this Summer, as part of the store's efforts to have community-oriented events.

    What does this mean? I don't know. I cynical view since B&N was announced was that it will be great to have a comfortable store to browse and read my Amazon Kindle purchases. This is literally realized when my wife has her bookclub in the cafe, and everyone has read from the Kindle version.

    But I wish the best for B&N. It's a nice store. I enjoy browsing and having a coffee. I've bought some gifts for kids there. And a couple of comics, as they've got a good selection.

  74. RobertR

    I find it astounding and counter to logic to say that a company should be punished for lowering its prices. In the Alcoa Aluminum antitrust case, the government lawyers actually tried to argue that the company was “evil” for doing everything in its power to keep lowering the price of aluminum and keeping it that way. To say that a CONSTANT effort to lower prices is bad is little short of Orwellian.

    To delve into this debate much deeper would run afoul of HTF rules. Suffice to say that I don't share your confidence in the self-correcting mechanism of an unrestrained free market, because I don't think it's possible to separate out the political or other outside considerations. It is the nature of being in a dominant position to use that dominance to protect one's dominance, and the moves don't just happen in the open where consumers can make fully informed decisions.

    Which isn't to say that Amazon is the source of all of Barnes & Noble's problems; it's facing headwinds that would have caused it problems regardless. It may be that there just isn't room for a large corporate bookstore chain anymore. But as someone who likes to browse the shelves, soak up the smell of fresh print, get tipped off about a book in the morning and pick up a copy that afternoon, I will mourn its loss if it does go.

  75. Adam Lenhardt

    To delve into this debate much deeper would run afoul of HTF rules. Suffice to say that I don't share your confidence in the self-correcting mechanism of an unrestrained free market, because I don't think it's possible to separate out the political or other outside considerations. It is the nature of being in a dominant position to use that dominance to protect one's dominance, and the moves don't just happen in the open where consumers can make fully informed decisions.

    The main point of my lengthy post was to show that the historical record doesn't support the theory you expounded that an unrestrained free market results in monopoly. It doesn't. It's a flawed and circular argument to say that the free market results in monopoly because of political interference, therefore we must have political interference. In other words, we must impose that which we agree it's bad to impose, and the bad effects of the interference will be use to "prove" that the lack of the interference is bad.

    Which isn't to say that Amazon is the source of all of Barnes & Noble's problems; it's facing headwinds that would have caused it problems regardless. It may be that there just isn't room for a large corporate bookstore chain anymore. But as someone who likes to browse the shelves, soak up the smell of fresh print, get tipped off about a book in the morning and pick up a copy that afternoon, I will mourn its loss if it does go.

    There are always going be changes that some people don't like. For example, I remember the MTV of the 80s with fondness, and I hated what it became. But I would never think of trying to prevent such change by force. I think the bottom line is what you said in your second sentence. You don't have to like it, but people as a whole are fine with it, and their wishes shouldn't be overridden.

  76. RobertR

    There are always going be changes that some people don't like. For example, I remember the MTV of the 80s with fondness, and I hated what it became. But I would never think of trying to prevent such change by force. I think the bottom line is what you said in your second sentence. You don't have to like it, but people as a whole are fine with it, and their wishes shouldn't be overridden.

    (On a tangential aside).

    Similar sentiments here too about music channels.

    When MTV turned to complete crap sometime in the early->mid 1990s (ie. the Real World, etc ….), I moved on briefly to the canada muchmusic channel where they still actually played music videos regularly at the time. This was before VH1 became my music channel of choice by the late 1990s. (Eventually VH1 turned to crap too).

  77. RobertR

    Again, you place the emphasis on jobs, not whether human wants are being satisfied. Is plenty of music, television, movies, and writing available to people? Yes, more so than EVER before, yet you seem to be contending that that’s somehow a bad thing…

    As with most major changes, I think its effects are both good and bad. The real problem isn't the domination of Amazon – it's the proliferation of pirated content and the rise of new business models like music and movie streaming services that pay a fraction of what the old models did. While it's great to have access to practically everything ever written, filmed and recorded, it's not so great when there are new generations who feel entitled to all of this content for free or next to nothing. It's going to be very hard to reverse course and convince them to pay for things that they've grown to believe have no monetary value.

  78. Worth

    As with most major changes, I think its effects are both good and bad. The real problem isn't the domination of Amazon – it's the proliferation of pirated content and the rise of new business models like music and movie streaming services that pay a fraction of what the old models did. While it's great to have access to practically everything ever written, filmed and recorded, it's not so great when there are new generations who feel entitled to all of this content for free or next to nothing. It's going to be very hard to reverse course and convince them to pay for things that they've grown to believe have no monetary value.

    Speaking in general terms, I would agree that someone who has the attitude that he is entitled to what others produce is wrong. I have to point out that such an attitude is the antithesis of favoring the free market. It's the old TANSTAAFL principle. But there's a difference between getting something for nothing and getting something for less. Really, does anyone complain about the dramatic decrease in, say, the cost per byte of computer memory? People are just going to have to adjust to a new business model, and not worry so much about the supposed glories of the past.

  79. jcroy

    At times I wonder whether the first week sales is the most important for a new dvd/bluray release.

    After that it just collects dust?

    It sure seems that way and it does puzzle me. What's the rush? If my favorite movie comes out on Blu-ray, what's the difference if I buy it this week, next week or two months from now? Half the time when I buy a title, I don't wind up watching it for weeks.

    But I guess consumers who are still such fans that they still buy physical media are so anxious to receive a new movie that they rush out to buy it as soon as it's released, especially if it's a film that they didn't see theatrically (although that's only a guess – I have no research data to back that up). Only 3 titles so far this year held the #1 spot (all physical media combined, including DVD) for more than one week: Blade Runner 2049 (2 weeks), The Last Jedi (2 weeks) and The Greatest Showman (2 weeks),

  80. zoetmb

    What's the rush?

    From the studio's point of view, they've put money into creating a new disc, and they'd like to recover that investment as soon as possible. They're also putting money into promoting that disc, and that's usually a one-time effort for them. Discs take up shelf space (or warehouse storage space) which costs money and/or takes away space from another item, so stores have an incentive to encourage demand up front so they can move as many as they can as quickly as they can. Those factors almost certainly contribute to why there can seem to be a sense of urgency on release date.

  81. Josh Steinberg

    From the studio's point of view, they've put money into creating a new disc, and they'd like to recover that investment as soon as possible. They're also putting money into promoting that disc, and that's usually a one-time effort for them. Discs take up shelf space (or warehouse storage space) which costs money and/or takes away space from another item, so stores have an incentive to encourage demand up front so they can move as many as they can as quickly as they can. Those factors almost certainly contribute to why there can seem to be a sense of urgency on release date.

    You missed my point. I was speaking from the standpoint of the consumer. Why do consumers feel they have to buy a video release the first week it's out and why do titles fall of the charts so quickly? Back during the height of the music industry, there were albums that stayed on the charts for a year.

    Also, as physical retail dies, inventory turns are less important. I don't know why they don't care, but Amazon doesn't seem to care about how much inventory they carry and they'll carry a title for years even if it doesn't sell. I've always thought that one day they'd wake up to the fact that most of the products they inventory don't sell hardly at all and that they're absorbing a LOT of cost by inventorying everything. But so far, they've gone in the opposite direction, opening more and more warehouses.

  82. zoetmb

    You missed my point. I was speaking from the standpoint of the consumer. Why do consumers feel they have to buy a video release the first week it's out and why do titles fall of the charts so quickly? Back during the height of the music industry, there were albums that stayed on the charts for a year.

    I remember back in the day of hit albums, getting the new Guns 'N Roses album(s) on the first day/week was something to brag about for the next several days. 🙂

    Dunno about movies.

  83. zoetmb

    You missed my point. I was speaking from the standpoint of the consumer. Why do consumers feel they have to buy a video release the first week it's out and why do titles fall of the charts so quickly?

    Speaking for myself: there are many titles that have "loss leader" pricing the first week they're on shelves, and then the price isn't that low again for months.

  84. RobertR

    In what way are books, music, and movies not more accessible than ever before? How can such greater accessibility possibly be bad?

    In many places, the retail selection of music is much less than it was a few years ago. With the bankruptcy of Borders and the closing of some Barnes & Noble locations, books may be headed the same way.

    There really is no comparison between, say, three Tower Records stores (plus several fairly large competitors) in the same area, vs. the CD selection at Target + Best Buy + WalMart today. If you live outside of a major metropolitan area, Amazon, iTunes, etc. may be the only way that you find that there even IS a new release from a favorite artist, let alone get a chance to buy it.

  85. Thomas Newton

    In many places, the retail selection of music is much less than it was a few years ago. With the bankruptcy of Borders and the closing of some Barnes & Noble locations, books may be headed the same way.

    There really is no comparison between, say, three Tower Records stores (plus several fairly large competitors) in the same area, vs. the CD selection at Target + Best Buy + WalMart today. If you live outside of a major metropolitan area, Amazon, iTunes, etc. may be the only way that you find that there even IS a new release from a favorite artist, let alone get a chance to buy it.

    Saying they're not available in a retail brick and mortar store is not the same thing as saying they're not available. They are, just not in the way that some people think they "should" be.

  86. Worth

    Ask working musicians and writers who aren't at the absolute top of the pyramid their take on it. The music and publishing industries have tanked in the last decade and the film industry is in in decline, as well.

    Here are some possible reasons why the music industry might be in the state that it is in.

    1. As mentioned previously, retail selection of music is way down. This may be in part due to the other items … but "out of sight, out of mind". I used to rely on local store displays to let me know about the existence of new albums I wanted to buy. Now I can't do that.

    2. Part of the reason that there was a huge boom in the music industry was a massive "forklift upgrade" from LPs and Compact Cassettes to CDs. The thing about "forklift upgrades" is that they eventually end. Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio (a.k.a. DRM delivery mechanisms) did not exactly take off, and so there was no follow-up boom until Jobs dragged the industry, kicking and screaming, into realizing that they could make money on electronic downloads. Now they are pinning their hopes on LPs again, but that seems to be a small, high-margin niche market, not a real competitor to CDs or downloads.

    3. Following the CD-Audio "forklift upgrade" were DVD-Video, Blu-Ray, and HDTV "forklift upgrades". It seems reasonable to assume that some of this video spending came at the expense of audio spending.

    4. The recording industry's attempts to cripple entertainment and computer gear, and otherwise insult their own customers, did not go unnoticed. Especially by those of us who were their best customers and who did not appreciate things like (cough) root (cough) (cough) "CDs".

    5. Many customers who buy electronically do so because they just want certain tracks. This is in some ways a return from the album-oriented concept of recent decades to the single-oriented one of the early R&B / rock years. For artists like the Beatles or Bob Dylan who can maintain high levels of quality across entire albums, this seems unlikely to be a problem. But I can see where it might lead to a drop in income for "one-hit wonders."

  87. Thomas Newton

    Here are some possible reasons why the music industry might be in the state that it is in.

    1. As mentioned previously, retail selection of music is way down. This may be in part due to the other items … but "out of sight, out of mind". I used to rely on local store displays to let me know about the existence of new albums I wanted to buy. Now I can't do that.

    2. Part of the reason that there was a huge boom in the music industry was a massive "forklift upgrade" from LPs and Compact Cassettes to CDs. The thing about "forklift upgrades" is that they eventually end. Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio (a.k.a. DRM delivery mechanisms) did not exactly take off, and so there was no follow-up boom until Jobs dragged the industry, kicking and screaming, into realizing that they could make money on electronic downloads. Now they are pinning their hopes on LPs again, but that seems to be a small, high-margin niche market, not a real competitor to CDs or downloads.

    3. Following the CD-Audio "forklift upgrade" were DVD-Video, Blu-Ray, and HDTV "forklift upgrades". It seems reasonable to assume that some of this video spending came at the expense of audio spending.

    4. The recording industry's attempts to cripple entertainment and computer gear, and otherwise insult their own customers, did not go unnoticed. Especially by those of us who were their best customers and who did not appreciate things like (cough) root (cough) (cough) "CDs".

    5. Many customers who buy electronically do so because they just want certain tracks. This is in some ways a return from the album-oriented concept of recent decades to the single-oriented one of the early R&B / rock years. For artists like the Beatles or Bob Dylan who can maintain high levels of quality across entire albums, this seems unlikely to be a problem. But I can see where it might lead to a drop in income for "one-hit wonders."

    A few comments:
    1. The initial reluctance of the industry to embrace digital downloads let to massive illegal consumption of music. That led to the attitude that "music should be free". The industry eventually did embrace downloads, but the attitude never went away and the perception among people today is that they shouldn't be paying very much for music.

    2. The conglomerate take over of radio has led to incredibly bad "fast food radio" that no longer leads to music sales in the way radio did from the 1950's until 2000 or so.

    3. The single oriented early rock and R&B years "worked" because the industry was far smaller and because artists went into the studio and recorded three tracks in a four hour session. It's not sustainable when artists spend months in the studio and record different tracks in different studios and use mixing and mastering engineers in other studios.

    4. But that's moot anyway because even digital downloads are in severe decline. In the U.S. in 2017, physical media constituted 17.6% of revenue, downloads just 15.7% (down 25.5% from 2016) and streaming constituted 66.7% (up 43% from 2016). This had led to rumors that Apple is going to abandon selling downloads in favor of streaming subscriptions to Apple Music.

    5. No one in the industry with any sense expected LP's to save the industry. LP's are a welcome, but tiny niche. In 2017 in the U.S., just 15.6 million LP's were sold. That was up 5.4% from 2016 but it was down from the 16.9 million sold in 2015. We won't know the sales figures for the first half of this year until the RIAA releases them in September, but it's very possible that LP's have already hit their peak. It's also possible that the LP market is really primarily a used market. In any case, it contributes quite little revenue to the industry. The LP "boom" has largely been hype. Consider that back in the day, there were single LPs that sold 10 million all by themselves. Now, the equivalent of 1 1/2 of those is the entire industry.

    6. I don't agree that music industry revenue falloff was due to consumers finishing replacing their LPs and cassettes with CDs because CD's peaked in 2000. It didn't take consumers 16 years to replace their LPs and cassettes. On the other hand, CDs did start to decline before the advent of legal digital, but I think this was due to the decline of quality radio and a decline in quality in the record industry in part due to the consolidation of the major record labels to just three: Warner, Sony and Universal. And one might also consider the effects of MTV on the quality of music in that era.

    7. The bigger issue of relevance to HTF participants is will the move of the music industry to streaming as the overwhelming dominant way that consumers consume music also mean that streaming will dominate video consumption?

  88. Jasper70

    I go into libraries a lot. What I see more than anything is people using the computers and free WiFi. Sure, some still check out books but I think they’re in the minority.

    The upcoming generation (if it survives long enough) will not know the wonderful smell of the printed page, or the heft of holding an actual book, or the satisfaction of seeing the spine of that book on their shelf, or the beauty of snuggling into bed beneath a reading lamp and tackling the next few chapters of a book that has a dust cover and a texture, without a backlight that illuminates digital images. Sigh.

  89. Dick

    The upcoming generation (if it survives long enough) will not know the wonderful smell of the printed page, or the heft of holding an actual book, or the satisfaction of seeing the spine of that book on their shelf, or the beauty of snuggling into bed beneath a reading lamp and tackling the next few chapters of a book that has a dust cover and a texture, without a backlight that illuminates digital images. Sigh.

    Hell, Generation X may be the last generation to know what it's like to hold a strip of 16mm film in their hands and hold it up to the light and see the images and the emulsion on it. On those rare occasions when I got to hold a strip of 35mm film from a feature film, it was magical.

  90. BobO’Link

    That depends on their parents. All of my grandkids (ages 18mo – 15 years) know what a book is. Their parents all make sure to read to them from a *book* daily – at least those too young to read them for themselves. The rest are avid readers and don't know what it is to read a book "electronically" in spite of owning tablet devices which support such methods. They all read books from a printed page.

    Heartening news. Hope there are lots more parents like you.

  91. BobO’Link

    That depends on their parents. All of my grandkids (ages 18mo – 15 years) know what a book is. Their parents all make sure to read to them from a *book* daily – at least those too young to read them for themselves. The rest are avid readers and don't know what it is to read a book "electronically" in spite of owning tablet devices which support such methods. They all read books from a printed page.

    That will change when they hit college (and maybe even high school, depending on their high school). Almost all college textbooks today are electronic and all assignments must be submitted electronically (with the exception of some art/design projects). On the other hand, trade e-books sales have been in moderate decline in recent years and the Barnes & Noble and Sony e-book readers were failures. But I also think that when young people spend their lives on their phone apps, it's inevitable that they're going to migrate to electronic books, if they bother to read anything like a "book" at all once they leave school. That's not just because of the medium but also because they generally don't feel the need to own media, so they won't be buying books, just as they're no longer buying physical music and video and they're streaming instead. The only "hope" is that some of the streaming services eventually shut down because the big ones are not profitable or that a new generation goes through a cultural change and returns to wanting to own physical media because they want to see something on the shelf. For me personally, if it's not on a shelf, I don't feel like I own it, but I'm an "old man".

  92. Yes, my college son rarely has a physical book for a course, but they found a way to keep charging outrageous textbook fees (usually more than $100)… you buy the online book to access a key code you need to take the tests. Clever, huh? Or insidious?

  93. Interesting information about college textbooks. When I was studying for my Professional Engineering license about 8 years ago, I had books. I still have them. I doubt that electronic devices will ever be allowed, because only certain calculators are permitted to prevent cheating.

    I have LOTS of bookshelves in my house, with LOTS of books, including Astronomy books and the complete Encyclopedia Britannica. I've always been an avid reader. But I honestly don't miss reading paper editions, any more than I miss the "feel" of vinyl records. The idea of carrying over 1000 books in my pocket is something I find utterly marvelous. It's the words that engross me, not the medium, just as it's the music that engrosses me, not the emotional attachment to a physical artifact.

  94. zoetmb

    That will change when they hit college (and maybe even high school, depending on their high school). Almost all college textbooks today are electronic and all assignments must be submitted electronically (with the exception of some art/design projects).

    Not too surprising. The end of the line unfortunately.

    The foreshadowing started happening almost a decade ago, when the famous CALTECH campus bookstore closed down in 2009 (for example).

    https://www.dailybulletin.com/2009/04/11/larry-wilson-what-does-campus-bookstore-closure-say/

  95. Dave H

    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.

    I live in Maryland and the only place I can rent a video is a RedBox. I miss the days were I can go to a blockbuster and browse the video and get one with my girlfriend. That is why my DVD/Blu-Ray collection is huge?. What state are you in so I can move. Maryland has no rental places

  96. I'm in NC and FamilyVideo chain is still here. I think FV may be the last surviving Major Rental B&M chain, but it's more regional and only really in 20 states (10 in any real numbers mostly in the Midwest).

  97. gralenk

    I live in Maryland and the only place I can rent a video is a RedBox. I miss the days were I can go to a blockbuster and browse the video and get one with my girlfriend. That is why my DVD/Blu-Ray collection is huge?. What state are you in so I can move. Maryland has no rental places

    I agree. The browsing has always been such a treat. So many times my girlfriend and I will stop off and see what we might want to watch – sometimes just unplanned which is fun. Watching something the same night you didn't expect. I feel very fortunate. I'm in Michigan.

  98. Hollywoodaholic

    Yes, my college son rarely has a physical book for a course, but they found a way to keep charging outrageous textbook fees (usually more than $100)… you buy the online book to access a key code you need to take the tests. Clever, huh? Or insidious?

    It's the same with Compact Discs . You pay $15.00 for a download and don't get any physical product . They've removed that cost . No disc or booklet , but same price .

  99. LouA

    It's the same with Compact Discs . You pay $15.00 for a download and don't get any physical product . They've removed that cost . No disc or booklet , but same price .

    The download business is pretty much over in the U.S. In 2017, downloads constituted only 15.7% of industry revenue (even less than physical media at 17.6%). Downloads were down 25.5% from 2016. It's all about streaming now, which constituted 66.7% of U.S. industry dollars in 2017, according to the RIAA. We won't know first half 2018 numbers until late September.

  100. This came up in a discussion currently taking place in the thread about the B&N Criterion sale.

    During my last two visits to my local B&N store in Albany NY, there has been no staff in the media section–just this sign:

    [​IMG]

    It actually took me quite awhile to find where they were hiding today's new release of the Dietrich/von Sternberg set. Apparently this is beoming a common situation at B&N stores across the country.

    NOT a good sign.

  101. Sad Sale.

    This weekend all CDs are 50% off. In store only. Goodbye Music except Vinyl.

    The sale included a CD/DVD combo. I got the Simon and Garfunkel Concert in Central Park Combo for 50% off. 50% off is off list price not already reduced prices. May work on some of the Beatles Combo stuff.

    I have not heard that this is any kind of final sale but it seems to be as the media area is always empty. I don't think they will be restocking.

  102. It's kind of amazing when you think about it that vinyl might end up being the last physical media standing when all is said and done. A nineteenth century format might out-survive all of the formats of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

  103. There were small black and white photocopies of the 50% off all CD's signs in the two stores I visited rather than professional looking for sale signs like the Criterion sale. Looked like they printed them from an email or from their intercompany website.

  104. Garysb

    There were small black and white photocopies of the 50% off all CD's signs in the two stores I visited rather than professional looking for sale signs like the Criterion sale. Looked like they printed them from an email or from their intercompany website.

    Sounds like the signs that my stores put up for the 40% off BD and DVD Fathers Day sale that surprised almost all the BN Managers and Employees. The customers who knew the sale usually started the Tues Pre-FD actually told the store people that the sale was happening and had to prove it by ringing up items on the POS Computer before anyone was even aware of the sale. The signs for the sale didn't actually go up until the next day and most of them looked like they were 5 minute Home-made by some underling on Windows Word and printed on an Inkjet or poorly photo-copied version of last years Sale Notice where you could tell the correct dates had cut out and taped over the last sale dates — different fonts, not even lined up properly,

  105. Adam Lenhardt

    It's kind of amazing when you think about it that vinyl might end up being the last physical media standing when all is said and done. A nineteenth century format might out-survive all of the formats of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Moral: Analog rules!

  106. Adam Lenhardt

    It's kind of amazing when you think about it that vinyl might end up being the last physical media standing when all is said and done. A nineteenth century format might out-survive all of the formats of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Rick Thompson

    Moral: Analog rules!

    I guess that RUSH got it right, after all! 😉

    CHEERS! 🙂

  107. Rick Thompson

    Moral: Analog rules!

    Faulty logic. People may migrate from CDs and towards downloading, streaming, etc., but the overwhelming choice for how they listen to music will still be digital in one form or another. Vinyl represented 8.5% of all album sales in 2017, which was 169.15 million copies. Compare that to 600 BILLION audio streams last year. That makes vinyl about 0.003% of all audio listening choices last year. It's clear that what rules is digital, by an astronomical margin.

  108. RobertR

    Faulty logic. People may migrate from CDs and towards downloading, streaming, etc., but the overwhelming choice for how they listen to music will still be digital in one form or another. Vinyl represented 8.5% of all album sales in 2017, which was 169.15 million copies. Compare that to 600 BILLION audio streams last year. That makes vinyl about 0.003% of all audio listening choices last year. It's clear that what rules is digital, by an astronomical margin.

    Yes but the masses are not always right… Quality over quantity….

  109. I travel for work a lot, so I've been stopping at B&N when I'm near one during this month.

    One of the San Antonio locations seemed to have every in-print title in stock. Great staff. Ended up chatting with the cashier. She said that pretty much anything Asian is popular and they're constantly having to replenish Kurosawa titles. David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and Terry Gilliam are top sellers, too. (Also scared off someone from getting Salo by accident)

  110. skylark68

    Yes but the masses are not always right… Quality over quantity….

    Depends on what you mean by "quality". We all know about the Loudness Wars, resulting in idiot record producers compressing the hell out of the dynamic range on a lot of recordings. That's not an inherent fault of digital, though. It's actually a side effect of digital being more forgiving of such compression than vinyl. As for all the objective parameters (distortion, noise, frequency response, channel separation, etc.), even the compressed formats do better than vinyl.

  111. Rick Thompson

    Moral: Analog rules!

    Moral: what's old is new. If vinyl can "come back," so can CD.

    Nothing truly disappears in the current era. Things just live side-by-side. There have been annual alarms ringing about the death of the CD literally for the last 5 or 10 years, yet still?

    They'll be fine for quite some time. Just perhaps not often found in physical stores.

  112. Interesting that in Japan (an incredibly tech-forward country) physical CDs have ALWAYS outsold downloads. I also believe that in Europe CDs still sell very well compared to the US. I always feel like US companies have self fulfilling prophecies: "See! Best Buy stopped selling CDs, Target and Walmart cut back AND CD SALES PLUMMETED!!! I told you they would!"

  113. Traveling Matt

    There have been annual alarms ringing about the death of the CD literally for the last 5 or 10 years, yet still?

    They'll be fine for quite some time. Just perhaps not often found in physical stores.

    For some highly niche musical genres, this ^ is already a reality for many years.

    More than a decade ago, such niche titles either had to be special ordered from a local record store or buying it from amazon. Specialty record stores of certain niches, no long really existed outside of big huge metroplis cities.

  114. Something about B&N I forgot to mention: They demolished one of the GREAT Cinerama houses, the Cooper Theater in Denver, to build one of their stores, because the Cooper was deemed insufficiently profitable. I consider it poetic justice that they're on the verge of going out of business for the same reason.

  115. RobertR

    Something about B&N I forgot to mention: They demolished one of the GREAT Cinerama houses, the Cooper Theater in Denver, to build one of their stores, because the Cooper was deemed insufficiently profitable. I consider it poetic justice that they're on the verge of going out of business for the same reason.

    That must have happened right around the time I moved there(March 1994). I don't remember the theater but I shopped at that B&N often. I worked just north of there at the Glendale Target.

  116. EricSchulz

    That must have happened right around the time I moved there(March 1994). I don't remember the theater but I shopped at that B&N often. I worked just north of there at the Glendale Target.

    That's the area! Pictures of the Cooper:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What a shame it was to have it replaced by just another one of umpteen bookstores that were all over the place.

  117. All it takes is one flippant comment by a member and all the sudden an innocent thread about the future of Barnes & Noble becomes yet another debate about analog versus digital.

    Let's stay on topic, please.

  118. CDs were 50% off Barnes & Noble in stores only this weekend. So this is the beginning (continuing) of the end of them dumping their physical CD media, methinks. It was like a clearance sale. And, of course, they abandoned any customer service or check out in the CD/DVD section quite a while back.

  119. How will ship to home work during the 40% off all blu rays sale. I have used it to buy Warner Archive titles in the past. If the media department is unattended can they do that at the regular check out? Would you be holding up the line for other customers? Did anyone buy a CD box set during the 50% off sale this weekend? Since box sets are mainly kept behind the cash register did you help yourself or try to find an employee to get you what you wanted?

  120. Garysb

    How will ship to home work during the 40% off all blu rays sale. I have used it to buy Warner Archive titles in the past. If the media department is unattended can they do that at the regular check out? Would you be holding up the line for other customers? Did anyone buy a CD box set during the 50% off sale this weekend? Since box sets are mainly kept behind the cash register did you help yourself or try to find an employee to get you what you wanted?

    Box sets were behind an unattended cash register in the media section so you really just had to step in the alcove there and grab what you want. Ship to home you can still do at the central information desk or front cash register.

  121. At 2 stores I went to an employee had a portable device and was scanning all the bar codes of the CDs. I guess they were doing inventory. They stopped what they were doing and helped me with stuff behind the counter.
    Made me wonder if what they were doing had anything to do with removing the CDs from the stores eventually.

  122. EricSchulz

    Interesting that in Japan (an incredibly tech-forward country) physical CDs have ALWAYS outsold downloads. I also believe that in Europe CDs still sell very well compared to the US. I always feel like US companies have self fulfilling prophecies: "See! Best Buy stopped selling CDs, Target and Walmart cut back AND CD SALES PLUMMETED!!! I told you they would!"

    Interesting article from the NY Times about how difficult it is to find even the biggest selling artists (like Drake) on physical CD, even in NYC

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/…ion/sectioncollection/arts&version=highlights

  123. BobO’Link

    From that story:

    Which tells me more than that the disc is hard to find. From what I've observed over the years, that genre, as well as rap, is somewhat flighty and tends to be "here today, gone tomorrow" with most songs/albums/artists. Were that a major rock band I might take it a bit more seriously.

    But Drake isn't a newcomer. He's a massive star. The point is that many in his audience- mainly young people- have abondoned physical media for streaming, and the record companies haven't made it any easier to actually get a copy. And in NYC especially, there are very few places to even BUY a CD if you want one.

  124. SeanSKA

    Interesting article from the NY Times about how difficult it is to find even the biggest selling artists (like Drake) on physical CD, even in NYC

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/arts/music/drake-scorpion-physical-cds.html?action=click&contentCollection=arts&contentPlacement=7&module=package&pgtype=sectionfront&region=rank&rref=collection/sectioncollection/arts&version=highlights

    "…even in NYC"

    That should be no surprise. NYC doesn't have a single large record store left, aside from Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and that's not even large compared to what Tower Records, J&R, Virgin, HMV or the old main Sam Goody's used to be. And one of the reasons for that is that retail rents are so high, a record store cannot survive.

    Like classic old movie theaters, there's a much greater chance of a record store (or book store) surviving in a place where the economy is far worse because there isn't some real estate company either charging absurd rents (in NYC, a 10,000 sq ft store in a well-trafficked neighborhood could easily be paying $2 million a year in rent) or trying to tear everything down to build something else.

  125. zoetmb

    "…even in NYC"

    That should be no surprise. NYC doesn't have a single large record store left, aside from Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and that's not even large compared to what Tower Records, J&R, Virgin, HMV or the old main Sam Goody's used to be. And one of the reasons for that is that retail rents are so high, a record store cannot survive.

    Like classic old movie theaters, there's a much greater chance of a record store (or book store) surviving in a place where the economy is far worse because there isn't some real estate company either charging absurd rents (in NYC, a 10,000 sq ft store in a well-trafficked neighborhood could easily be paying $2 million a year in rent) or trying to tear everything down to build something else.

    So true…and it's a shame. Not only are all the "big boys" like Tower and Virgin history, but so are most of the little independent stores that used to be all over the Village (East and West) up until the 2000s

  126. SeanSKA

    So true…and it's a shame. Not only are all the "big boys" like Tower and Virgin history, but so are most of the little independent stores that used to be all over the Village (East and West) up until the 2000s

    I can't tell you how many trips I made to NYC for three decades mainly for two things: to see Broadway shows (this was long before they cost a week's pay for a single ticket) and to haunt record stores all over the city looking for treasures that were out of print or hard to find.

  127. Matt Hough

    I can't tell you how many trips I made to NYC for three decades mainly for two things: to see Broadway shows (this was long before they cost a week's pay for a single ticket) and to haunt record stores all over the city looking for treasures that were out of print or hard to find.

    But you can still find "exciting new retail" like Henri Bendel, Prada and Chloe, and stop for coffee at Starbucks!

  128. CDs were 50% off Barnes & Noble in stores only this weekend. So this is the beginning (continuing) of the end of them dumping their physical CD media, methinks. It was like a clearance sale. And, of course, they abandoned any customer service or check out in the CD/DVD section quite a while back.

    No such sale at the ones by me.

  129. Hollywoodaholic

    CDs were 50% off Barnes & Noble in stores only this weekend. So this is the beginning (continuing) of the end of them dumping their physical CD media, methinks. It was like a clearance sale. And, of course, they abandoned any customer service or check out in the CD/DVD section quite a while back.

    Unfortunately, didn't find out about the CD sale until it was already over; would have liked to browse & find some at that price.

    As for customer service/check out in the Music/Movie section, I can't think of one location near me that has abandoned it; I'd say there's someone manning that section at least 90% of the time I shop there.

  130. Actually nice to hear some good news about employee staffing. Hopefully during the Nov/Dec sales a couple of my stores will return thos counters since even with them the regular checkout can get congested.

    Just a reminder since BN and Criterion have both sent out emails today — Criterion 50% Sale ends Monday night Aug 6. I know with the 10 date changes this sale had it might have got lost that they moved the end date back a full week.

  131. Actually nice to hear some good news about employee staffing. Hopefully during the Nov/Dec sales a couple of my stores will return thos counters since even with them the regular checkout can get congested.

    Just a reminder since BN and Criterion have both sent out emails today — Criterion 50% Sale ends Monday night Aug 6. I know with the 10 date changes this sale had it might have got lost that they moved the end date back a full week.

  132. Sale ended 7/22 or did you mean your store didn't have the sale then

    I don't know. If it was a weekend thing, I must have missed it. An email would have been nice. I'm not there often on the weekends. I usually go after work.

  133. Sale ended 7/22 or did you mean your store didn't have the sale then

    I don't know. If it was a weekend thing, I must have missed it. An email would have been nice. I'm not there often on the weekends. I usually go after work.

  134. It seemed hit or miss on the emails about the sale. I got some that mentioned it and others that didn't, though it wasn't the headline of the email, but 2-3 scrolls in the middle of the mail sandwiched between the Criterion 50% and HP Paperback 25% Off. It was "In-store, 3 Day only" and several people got the distinct impression it may have been an Inventory Clearance sale and a prelude to a Best Buy type discontinuation.

    It was funny b/c my member email address didn't mention it at all until Sunday, but the non-member (or old expired member) e-mail addresses mentioned the sale on Thursday or Friday.

  135. It seemed hit or miss on the emails about the sale. I got some that mentioned it and others that didn't, though it wasn't the headline of the email, but 2-3 scrolls in the middle of the mail sandwiched between the Criterion 50% and HP Paperback 25% Off. It was "In-store, 3 Day only" and several people got the distinct impression it may have been an Inventory Clearance sale and a prelude to a Best Buy type discontinuation.

    It was funny b/c my member email address didn't mention it at all until Sunday, but the non-member (or old expired member) e-mail addresses mentioned the sale on Thursday or Friday.

  136. It seemed hit or miss on the emails about the sale. I got some that mentioned it and others that didn't, though it wasn't the headline of the email, but 2-3 scrolls in the middle of the mail sandwiched between the Criterion 50% and HP Paperback 25% Off. It was "In-store, 3 Day only" and several people got the distinct impression it may have been an Inventory Clearance sale and a prelude to a Best Buy type discontinuation.

    It was funny b/c my member email address didn't mention it at all until Sunday, but the non-member (or old expired member) e-mail addresses mentioned the sale on Thursday or Friday.

  137. David Norman

    and several people got the distinct impression it may have been an Inventory Clearance sale and a prelude to a Best Buy type discontinuation.

    Oh! For those glory days of the CD sections at both Borders and Barnes & Noble.

    Those departments used to be HUGE. The B&N CD section at my local store now is small…tiny…minute. Oddly, even the vinyl racks overshadow it.

  138. David Norman

    and several people got the distinct impression it may have been an Inventory Clearance sale and a prelude to a Best Buy type discontinuation.

    Oh! For those glory days of the CD sections at both Borders and Barnes & Noble.

    Those departments used to be HUGE. The B&N CD section at my local store now is small…tiny…minute. Oddly, even the vinyl racks overshadow it.

  139. David Norman

    and several people got the distinct impression it may have been an Inventory Clearance sale and a prelude to a Best Buy type discontinuation.

    Oh! For those glory days of the CD sections at both Borders and Barnes & Noble.

    Those departments used to be HUGE. The B&N CD section at my local store now is small…tiny…minute. Oddly, even the vinyl racks overshadow it.

  140. Malcolm R

    Hard to believe there are really that many people willing to drop $30 on a vinyl LP.

    Agreed, but they seem to be in the BN Happy Zone. There are always 4-5 people in the LP section everytime I go by and without fail I see 2-3 folks carrying them to the register or out the door — mostly late teens to early 30-somethings, but more than a few older buyers as well. I feel the twinge every once in a while — I love holding the covers, having real album art, and actually being able to read the notes esp on the fold out covers. There's really not a lot I miss about Laserdiscs, but man the artwork, boxsets, and covers could be astounding

    Sound-wise I never could hear the warmth and detail, all the blah-blah, and "special something" that only analog could give even on great equipment. I do hear the James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams" speech though about something getting lost on the way to the future

  141. David Norman

    Agreed, but they seem to be in the BN Happy Zone. There are always 4-5 people in the LP section everytime I go by and without fail I see 2-3 folks carrying them to the register or out the door — mostly late teens to early 30-somethings, but more than a few older buyers as well. I feel the twinge every once in a while — I love holding the covers, having real album art, and actually being able to read the notes esp on the fold out covers. There's really not a lot I miss about Laserdiscs, but man the artwork, boxsets, and covers could be astounding

    Sound-wise I never could hear the warmth and detail, all the blah-blah, and "special something" that only analog could give even on great equipment. I do hear the James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams" speech though about something getting lost on the way to the future

    Must be a regional thing. I've never seen a single person look at or buy any vinyl since my store started carrying it. I looked once, until I saw the price tags, then I just laughed and moved on.

    I grew up with vinyl in the 80's and 90's, and was a dance DJ in college, so I had lots of albums and 12" singles back in the day (still have quite a few of them, too), but I don't really miss anything about vinyl. Bulky, not portable, pops, hiss, clicks, skips…shudder. 😉

  142. It's really hard for us boomers to throw down $30 for a vinyl disc now when we were around when you could buy them for $3.33 at Korvette's.

    I still keep a couple hundred vinyl LPs, either collectibles or for the art, or pure nostalgia (the double fold gate of King Crimson's 'Court' LP served 'many' purposes). But I don't think I ever had an LP that didn't have a pop or crackle somewhere, even when we bought virgin vinyl English imports. Now those crackles are even put into some new song mixes because they sound quaint, but to us, when CDs came out, we couldn't trade our LPs fast enough to get a cleaner, brighter sound on vocals.

    The only things that never came across as good or better for me from analogue to CD were a crisp, realistic cymbal sound (probably why jazz purists mostly prefer vinyl), and also wind. I'll never forget the first listen of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on CD when they actually replaced the opening wind sound on "Funeral for a Friend" with a static or hissing sound rising and lowering instead. Sacrilege.

  143. Hollywoodaholic

    It's really hard for us boomers to throw down $30 for a vinyl disc now when we were around when you could buy them for $3.33 at Korvette's.

    Korvette's. Wow. That was a long time ago. Of course, $3.33 bought a lot more back in those days. I have bought some new vinyl, though I don't recall getting them from B&N. One thing that seems more prevalent these days is that many vinyl releases are at least 180 gm as opposed to the flimsy vinyl from the 70's and 80's that you could flex like thin sheet metal.

  144. In the UK, we have HMV which I've been very happy with as far as Blu-Ray is concerned. They sell them 3 for £20 or 5 for £30 and they also have exclusive titles and box sets if you want something a bit more collectable. I also enjoy talking to the staff about films while I'm there. 95% of my Blu-Rays have come from HMV and I find very little reason to look elsewhere.

    HMV is pretty good for vinyl too but I also shop at a lot of other stores for records.

  145. The current fascination with vinyl LPs utterly mystifies me. I collected them for 10 years, and they were a HUGE pain in the ass. You had to very carefully take them out of their sleeves, then very carefully clean them every time. Of course, it was impossible to get them absolutely clean, which meant that you WERE going to get ticks and pops no matter how hard you tried not to (again, it's incomprehensible to me why this is considered acceptable), along with static buildup that had to be dealt with. Then, of course, you had to flip them over and go through the whole damn ritual again (no uninterrupted music pleasure for you!). Who are these masochists who think this sort of thing is fun, or somehow uplifting? You also had to make sure the stylus was clean. Their limitations meant that there was only so much bass you could put on them, and they were subject to end of side distortion.

    The CD did AWAY with ALL that nonsense in one fell swoop, and was and is superior in every meaningful objective way. It was a revelation to hear the Neptune movement from Holst's Planets fade into nothingness the way it SHOULD, and say goodbye to the old technology once and for all.

  146. Hollywoodaholic

    And they were numbered by their top ten position on the charts that week. No googling necessary if you wanted to pick up the top song that week.

    Well, this post made me smile.

    Why?

    Because I've been wanting to share this bit of fun with someone who'd appreciate it. And, I think I found him (them)! 😀

    From the Frezon Archives (circa 1972):

    [Click on the image to enlarge]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

  147. RobertR

    The current fascination with vinyl LPs utterly mystifies me.

    A meme arose to the effect that vinyl has superior audio qualities to CDs.

    Part of this was due to a common mastering mistake on early CDs. The audio signal on a LP normally is subject to the RIAA equalization curve. The audio signal on a CD isn't. But some producers accidentally created CD masters that had RIAA equalization. When played back, those CDs exhibited excessive treble and weak bass, contributing to the impression that CDs, as a medium, were "harsh" and "sterile".

    Another problem in recent years has been dynamic range compression. In an effort to make their CDs "louder" than the next guy's CDs, some producers compress the life out of the "music". CDs allow for a very wide dynamic range (wider than most recordings require). Still, if someone is determined to make their album sound as if they had recorded it in a rusty tin can, it's hard to stop them. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

  148. Hollywoodaholic

    It's really hard for us boomers to throw down $30 for a vinyl disc now when we were around when you could buy them for $3.33 at Korvette's.

    I still keep a couple hundred vinyl LPs, either collectibles or for the art, or pure nostalgia (the double fold gate of King Crimson's 'Court' LP served 'many' purposes). But I don't think I ever had an LP that didn't have a pop or crackle somewhere, even when we bought virgin vinyl English imports. Now those crackles are even put into some new song mixes because they sound quaint, but to us, when CDs came out, we couldn't trade our LPs fast enough to get a cleaner, brighter sound on vocals.

    The only things that never came across as good or better for me from analogue to CD were a crisp, realistic cymbal sound (probably why jazz purists mostly prefer vinyl), and also wind. I'll never forget the first listen of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on CD when they actually replaced the opening wind sound on "Funeral for a Friend" with a static or hissing sound rising and lowering instead. Sacrilege.

    I remember most albums selling in various places (like Caldor) for $3.98 mono and $4.98 stereo back in the late 60's. In the 70's, record companies began raising prices. In 1974-5, I was the owner of a small retail record store in a mall connecting Zayre and Sears, and did very well during the summer of '74. But the markup was only about 28%, and although non-sellers could be returned for credit, it was tricky stocking anything except sure-fire releases, especially for someone with a small space and limited line of credit. At that time, looking at the spines of LP's (if you have any from that era you can check this), you will find 0498, 0598, and 0698, with fewer and fewer coming in at $4.98. Big sellers that summer included Elton John's Caribou, the Doobies' What Were Vices Are Now Habits, Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark, Neil Sedaka's Laughter In the Rain, Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun (godawful), and many more. One had to guess when ordering anything by Heartsfield, Wet Willie, and other lesser-known but well-reviewed artists,

    A short detour: One day a bunch of dudes came into the store and browsed for a few minutes, then came to the counter and asked me "What do you think of the J. Geils Band… you have only a couple of their albums here." I said "Well, personally I think they're a pretty sloppy band and I don't care for them at all. But the reason there aren't many of their albums here is that they're in concert tonight at the Civic Center in town. I've sold a dozen copies of Blood Shot." After they had left, I took a look at the photos on the albums I did have, and damned if the photo of Peter Wolf wasn't a spittin' image of the guy who had asked me about my opinion of the band. Talk about foot-in-mouth disease!

    A major recession hit later in the year, and my stock shrunk. Goddamn Zayre started a loss-leader special, offering the Top 100 Albums for less than my wholesale distributor cost! My humble little store was shuttered after only 19 months. I'll never do retail again.

    Even with a massive chain like B&N, retail is an incredibly fickle business, and it is easy as hell to get sucked in if you start off having good months or years. One can slip unnoticed into overstocking or expanding, then down the road find the business cannot be supported anymore. Mismanagement within the bigger chains (Borders, etc.) often wrote the writing on the wall. It's kind of heartbreaking even to see the big ones go, as they had the product we collectors wanted. But the gigantic retailers now swallow up the merely large ones that, in turn, sucked in the plankton (me)…all sort of like the visual gag in THE PHANTOM MENACE when threatening fish are consumed by ever-larger ones in turn. But I really wish the lot of us smaller retailers could have withstood the likes of (at the time) Sam Goody and Tower and Recordland, etc, who all had deep corporate pockets. (Side note: I still really miss Colony Records on Broadway, which was a large but independent store on Broadway and always seemed to have what I was looking for).

    The local music chain in Maine was DeOrsey's, and was a big deal for many years, expanding into New Hampshire and with seemingly endless inventory. And why not? They were an subsidized by RCA! Those of us with tiny budgets and hopes of making it big one day were ultimately left in the dust. I saw it coming as early as 1974, and now, here we are. The big guys are now going down in flames; the little guys were vaporized long ago.

    So, to paraphrase Jefferson Airplane: "Bless its Pointy Little Heart…" we have Amazon. I'm not sure if we're paying enough attention to this rise of another corporate monopoly. Guess we're all so very cushy that we can be Prime members and take advantage of that by having Amazon ship us everything from a bottle of Penuche to a previously-owned bicycle wheel to any music or video or book we would ever likely to be in need of. Meanwhile, the competition shrinks even nearer to nothing. B&N is on borrowed time, even though they have tried to expand its variety of inventory. Sears is virtually gone, even after merging with K Mart. Whole Foods (and I'm not a huge fan to begin with) seems to be in its early phases of being sucked into the seemingly unstoppable A-Machine, which is making movies now, too. Pretty soon, if you need a massage, or an Uber car, or a wedding ceremony, or, when nationally legalized, your favorite snack treat laced with edible pot, guess whose app you will likely by clicking in a few years?

    But this doesn't seem to bother anybody much, as long as we get what we want…Amazon gets what it wants. To hell with the implications of that. Fake news. All fake news. Everything in our economy is going just swimmingly, thank you.

    I hope that most of you are old enough to remember what it was like when downtown was a mecca of shops and odd services (how many of us currently have a shoe repair shop or a vacuum shop or a seamstress within reasonable driving distance?) and delightfully atmospheric, privately-owned restaurants. It was a bit of a social event to walk along the sidewalk on both sides of the street downtown and stop in to say hello the various owners and managers of these businesses, who knew you by name and who spent time with you, even if you purchased nothing. Kinda like in the days when front porches were commonly built onto houses, and neighbors would stop and chat as we lazily pushed ourselves on the porch glider. Well, people don't build such grand porches much anymore, and nobody stops on their walk to town to chat anymore, just as probably half of those Main Street shops are probably vacant now, as they are in my town, and those that aren't have been given over to pawnshops and Chinese food and subprime lenders. The old local movie house has either been converted into something without any character at all, or it was torn down to make room for more parking space (ironic, since less is needed anymore).

    The very concrete creatures that usurped downtown — the malls — are now being emptied and left derelict. Oh, I do so love irony.

    See, that five minute trip to downtown or that three minute one to the strip mall just began to eat into our so-valuable time, so we've abandoned all of that also. I mean, geez, it takes too much gas and effort to go anywhere now. There has to be a Starbucks or a Subway within a mile of me, or hell with them!

    Hand me my Smart Phone, someone, and I'll use every bit of energy I have to tap on the Amazon app. Then things will get better.

    So, we still spend (more than ever) but the people who should be getting our money are now dropping a basket of fries into batter every few minutes and wondering, when did all of this happen?

    I really hope B&N holds out. They and a few other worthwhile but struggling chains need our support, as they are the Davids to Amazon's Goliath. Got your sling handy?

    Rant over.

  149. Thomas Newton

    A meme arose to the effect that vinyl has superior audio qualities to CDs.

    Part of this was due to a common mastering mistake on early CDs. The audio signal on a LP normally is subject to the RIAA equalization curve. The audio signal on a CD isn't. But some producers accidentally created CD masters that had RIAA equalization. When played back, those CDs exhibited excessive treble and weak bass, contributing to the impression that CDs, as a medium, were "harsh" and "sterile".

    Another problem in recent years has been dynamic range compression. In an effort to make their CDs "louder" than the next guy's CDs, some producers compress the life out of the "music". CDs allow for a very wide dynamic range (wider than most recordings require). Still, if someone is determined to make their album sound as if they had recorded it in a rusty tin can, it's hard to stop them. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

    I was aware of the "CDs are bright and cold" meme way back when. I was also knowledgeable enough to know that the reason for it was what you stated, and that it had nothing to do with any limitation of or flaw in digital audio. The answer was always obvious to me. Buy CDs made by people who knew what the hell they were doing. There have always been people whose opposition to digital goes far deeper than equalization curves or dynamic range, though. They simply refuse to accept the fact that digital is an accurate representation of a sound wave, regardless of how much the science is explained to them, and no matter how much all the objective numbers (noise, distortion, etc.) prove the superiority of digital. I used the word mystify deliberately, because the belief in the superiority of the vinyl LP has essentially nothing to do with scientific or engineering reality, apart from the stupidity of some recording engineers. This essentially mystical belief leads to absurd statements about the music existing unscathed BENEATH all the distortion and noise.

  150. Dick

    Sears is virtually gone, even after merging with K Mart.

    One of the reasons that Sears is virtually gone may be that K-Mart bought it. Sears was showing signs of trouble, but not like K-Mart's. Sears still had resources and fairly attractive stores and merchandise to use as a basis for a turnaround. K–Mart had failed to keep up with Target and Wal-Mart and was already circling the drain.

  151. Mike Frezon

    Oh! For those glory days of the CD sections at both Borders and Barnes & Noble.

    Those departments used to be HUGE. The B&N CD section at my local store now is small…tiny…minute. Oddly, even the vinyl racks overshadow it.

    I remember the Borders in the World trade Center had an enormous music section, with a good amount of imports (which weren't that easy to come by in the pre-internet era)

  152. RobertR

    The current fascination with vinyl LPs utterly mystifies me. I collected them for 10 years, and they were a HUGE pain in the ass. You had to very carefully take them out of their sleeves, then very carefully clean them every time. Of course, it was impossible to get them absolutely clean, which meant that you WERE going to get ticks and pops no matter how hard you tried not to (again, it's incomprehensible to me why this is considered acceptable), along with static buildup that had to be dealt with. Then, of course, you had to flip them over and go through the whole damn ritual again (no uninterrupted music pleasure for you!). Who are these masochists who think this sort of thing is fun, or somehow uplifting? You also had to make sure the stylus was clean. Their limitations meant that there was only so much bass you could put on them, and they were subject to end of side distortion.

    The CD did AWAY with ALL that nonsense in one fell swoop, and was and is superior in every meaningful objective way. It was a revelation to hear the Neptune movement from Holst's Planets fade into nothingness the way it SHOULD, and say goodbye to the old technology once and for all.

    I remember how much I used to send just on wipes and brushes for the LPs, and little cleaners for the stylus….don't miss LPs at all

  153. RobertR

    The current fascination with vinyl LPs utterly mystifies me. I collected them for 10 years, and they were a HUGE pain in the ass. You had to very carefully take them out of their sleeves, then very carefully clean them every time. Of course, it was impossible to get them absolutely clean, which meant that you WERE going to get ticks and pops no matter how hard you tried not to (again, it's incomprehensible to me why this is considered acceptable), along with static buildup that had to be dealt with. Then, of course, you had to flip them over and go through the whole damn ritual again (no uninterrupted music pleasure for you!). Who are these masochists who think this sort of thing is fun, or somehow uplifting? You also had to make sure the stylus was clean. Their limitations meant that there was only so much bass you could put on them, and they were subject to end of side distortion.

    The CD did AWAY with ALL that nonsense in one fell swoop, and was and is superior in every meaningful objective way. It was a revelation to hear the Neptune movement from Holst's Planets fade into nothingness the way it SHOULD, and say goodbye to the old technology once and for all.

    I couldn't agree more. All I can do is shake my head in disbelief and wonder If this new fascination with the LP is an alternate universe.

  154. BobO’Link

    Yep… Listening to an album was pretty much a ritual and a royal pain.

    I have a ZeroStat mat and anti-static gun and the Discwasher system for cleaning records and stylus. I'd zap the record with the gun, clean the record with the Discwasher pad, zap the record again with the gun, clean the stylus with the Discwasher stylus cleaner, and listen. I got to where I'd make a tape (cassette) of the album the first time I listened to it and just play the tape after that, using the album when the tape wore out or got eaten by one of the players (usually the car) to make a new copy. That also kept the albums a bit safer during parties (no one touched the albums which were usually under lock and key for that very reason). I still have all that and the turntable but it's rarely used. I'd much rather put on the CD. Like Steely Dan's lyrics in "FM" – "No static at all…" (yeah, I know they're talking about FM radio but it applies to CD as well)…

    I remember that necessary paraphernalia well. I had the Zerostat gun, the Discwasher, the brush to keep the record clean while it was playing, the stylus cleaner, etc. ad nauseum. I tried to buy high quality records, including one from Sheffield Labs. "No tape hiss! The quiet passages are impressive!" Yeah, they were, until the inevitable Invasion of the RIce Krispies. Interesting that you mention tape. Some vinyl fans rather loudly proclaim that the format was the highest quality analog home sound format ever, when in fact Open Reel was superior. Of course, Open Reel was its own pain in the ass, and the selection was very limited. As incomprehensible as the current fascination with vinyl is, there's an obsession with Open Reel that's even more ludicrous:

    Playback machines that cost anywhere from $6500 to $22,500. Tapes that cost four hundred fifty dollars, made from a digital source (so much for analog purity). All to escape a format immensely more convenient, cheaper, and superior by every objective audio measure. I just shake my head at this sort of thing.

  155. Rick Thompson

    But you can still find "exciting new retail" like Henri Bendel, Prada and Chloe, and stop for coffee at Starbucks!

    You can do that at almost any high-end mall in the U.S. and that's part of the problem. Although NYC's economy is quite diverse, tourism is a large part of it. Why would a tourist spend a fortune to come to NYC if they can find the same stores, restaurants and movie theater chains (with just as crappy presentation) as they can get at home? And frankly, I don't understand why anyone comes to NYC and shops and eats in those places. What's the point?

    It used to be that NYC was filled with lots of unique food, retail and entertainment. It used to be that NYC had great theaters that were among the first to adapt new technology. Now, due to corporate greed, NYC is the same as everywhere else and in many cases far worse because it's almost impossible for most independent and unique businesses to survive here. For many years, the big national retail chains tended to avoid NYC, but that hasn't been the case for several decades now.

  156. Malcolm R

    Hard to believe there are really that many people willing to drop $30 on a vinyl LP.

    Hollywoodaholic

    It's really hard for us boomers to throw down $30 for a vinyl disc now when we were around when you could buy them for $3.33 at Korvette's.

    $3.33 in 1967 is $25.20 in 2018 dollars. Prices are a bit higher because pressing quantities are so much lower today and most new pressings are on 180-gram vinyl, although it's questionable as to whether 180-gram vinyl actually provides any aural benefits. It's really become a boutique business. There's a lot of hype around vinyl, but in the U.S., only 15.6 million LP's were sold in the U.S. in 2017 according to the RIAA, more than 2016's 14.8 million, but fewer than 2015's 16.9 million. Back in the day, there were single super-hit albums that sold 10 million all by themselves and now the entire industry is just 1.5x that. First half 2018 numbers won't be available until the Fall, but I think we're going to see a fall-off in sales. And eventually, the hipsters will get tired of (new) vinyl and sales will drop and everything will be discounted to get rid of it again, especially by the few remaining physical retailers.

    BobO’Link

    Yep… Listening to an album was pretty much a ritual and a royal pain.

    I have a ZeroStat mat and anti-static gun and the Discwasher system for cleaning records and stylus. I'd zap the record with the gun, clean the record with the Discwasher pad, zap the record again with the gun, clean the stylus with the Discwasher stylus cleaner, and listen. .

    I decided that if I was going to keep my vintage vinyl, then I was going to listen to every single LP I still own (about 500). I did that and copied them to CD-R at the same time. I had tons of static problems and went out and bought another anti-static gun and I really don't think it helped at all. Some albums were fine and some were all static, even after cleaning and zapping. For all the hype about vinyl today, I remember all the complaints in the 1970's about the poor quality of U.S. pressing plants (and I visited one of the major plants around 1980 or so and I was shocked at what a dump it was).

  157. For some people, I think the limitations of vinyl and the analog artifacts resulting from a format reliant on physical contact are part of the appeal.

    It's like all of the kids using filters to make their snapchat and instagram videos look like they were shot with a camcorder on VHS-C at 240i.

  158. In 1967, a family of five such as mine could live comfortably on one income earner, but wage growth has been stagnant since the early 70s, so that has no longer been possible since then, and that $3.33 in 1967 consumed a lot less of a paycheck than $25 does today. So I always balk at the 2018 dollar comparison. That never matters as much as the percentage something costs out of a paycheck. And a kid like me who earned below minimum wage on his first job could buy an LP for less than two hours work. You'd have to make at least $12 per hour to do that today.

    And, yeah, I'm a bit eyeball rolling about this 180-gram vinyl sales pitch today. I've bought a few of these and see no significant improvement over the imperfections and pops that appear. Back in the day… we used to think British or German vinyl was better than American and we shelled out more bucks for the European pressings. Oh, well, we at least had the perception of being cool.

  159. zoetmb

    You can do that at almost any high-end mall in the U.S. and that's part of the problem. Although NYC's economy is quite diverse, tourism is a large part of it. Why would a tourist spend a fortune to come to NYC if they can find the same stores, restaurants and movie theater chains (with just as crappy presentation) as they can get at home? And frankly, I don't understand why anyone comes to NYC and shops and eats in those places. What's the point?

    When I worked for Marriott in downtown Denver (twentysome years ago) our clientele was mostly convention attendees and business travelers. With all the great restaurants we had in the downtown area at that time the majority wanted to know how far we were from The Cheesecake Factory. Far too many people will settle for what's familiar rather than take a chance on something new.

  160. EricSchulz

    When I worked for Marriott in downtown Denver (twentysome years ago) our clientele was mostly convention attendees and business travelers. With all the great restaurants we had in the downtown area at that time the majority wanted to know how far we were from The Cheesecake Factory. Far too many people will settle for what's familiar rather than take a chance on something new.

    When I visited my ex wife's family in Indonesia, they asked if I wanted to go to the likes of Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonalds. I said no, I want to taste the LOCAL cuisine. I loved the restaurant we went to with the pool of fish you could pick your meal from and the soft shell crab.

  161. Just sell me a still-sealed vinyl copy of that brilliant first King Crimson album (In the Court Of the Crimson King) just so I can frame and wall-mount it. There was lots of superb album art that I wish I'd kept in its original cellophane (which I didn't due because we were warned this could warp the albums).

    I loved and supported CD's from the moment those wasteful long boxes appeared on the shelves. Damn, those impossibly little discs were awesome! Other than the aforementioned big art (and liner notes), I do not miss vinyl. Did you ever have to return four or five copies of one of those poorly-pressed (probably on recycled vinyl) MCA or RCA or other notorious labels due to warping, off-center hole-punches, bad sectors (especially on the first or last tracks) full of "static," etc. Labels purporting to be "Virgin" vinyl such as Deutsche Grammaphon and Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs sounded great for the first and second plays. After that, there wasn't a record cleaner out there that could keep the surface noise away. I concur completely with the above poster who loves the "Neptune" track of Holst's The Planets on CD…the absolute absence of unintentional sound is exactly what evokes deep space… you can float right off to sleep listening to it.

    Interesting that this Barnes and Noble thread has become a discussion about the limited but very real resurgence of vinyl. I have no objection to it…it's always been fun as hell pawing hungrily through bins full of 12×12" albums and it's cool seeing the classic oldies showing up brand new, albeit for more $$ than I'd ever spend now. I can get a Criterion Blu-ray — when it isn't even on sale — for the same price as a new vinyl copy of a Carpenter's album.

    Fascinating, this. Like politics: might be good, might be bad, but its gonna have its supporters and detractors and one or the other will ultimately come out ahead.

  162. RobertR

    I remember that necessary paraphernalia well. I had the Zerostat gun, the Discwasher, the brush to keep the record clean while it was playing, the stylus cleaner, etc. ad nauseum. I tried to buy high quality records, including one from Sheffield Labs. "No tape hiss! The quiet passages are impressive!" Yeah, they were, until the inevitable Invasion of the RIce Krispies. Interesting that you mention tape. Some vinyl fans rather loudly proclaim that the format was the highest quality analog home sound format ever, when in fact Open Reel was superior. Of course, Open Reel was its own pain in the ass, and the selection was very limited. As incomprehensible as the current fascination with vinyl is, there's an obsession with Open Reel that's even more ludicrous:

    Playback machines that cost anywhere from $6500 to $22,500. Tapes that cost four hundred fifty dollars, made from a digital source (so much for analog purity). All to escape a format immensely more convenient, cheaper, and superior by every objective audio measure. I just shake my head at this sort of thing.

    Remember the dbx noise reduction system? It was a much-better-than-Dolby-C system of compressing a signal which, when decompressing for playback, spared only the intended music (without distortion) while eliminating all typical tape noise as though it was an antibody attacking bacteria. It was a terrific system, and one heard no compression pumping (because there wasn't any). I actually spent thousands of hours recording my entire LP collection onto high-grade cassette tapes using dbx, and then sold the album collection, so sure was I that I was set for life.

    Lesson to the young: You are never set for life.

    The dbx system fell out of favor (even though a number of popular vinyl record albums were recorded to be played back using a dbx decoder…and they were quiet!) as did cassettes, and although I bought a backup dbx tape deck when I saw the writing on the wall, I knew I would need to move on when I could. Then came recordable CD's. So, I spent thousand more hours re-recording all of my dbx tapes onto CD's. I surely wouldn't mind having back the time it took me to all of this.

  163. Dick

    Remember the dbx noise reduction system? It was a much-better-than-Dolby-C system of compressing a signal which, when decompressing for playback, spared only the intended music (without distortion) while eliminating all typical tape noise as though it was an antibody attacking a virus. It was a terrific system, and one heard no compression pumping (because there wasn't any). I actually spent thousands of hours recording my entire LP collection onto high-grade cassette tapes using dbx, and then sold the album collection, so sure was I that I was set for life.

    Lesson to the young: You are never set for life.

    The dbx system fell out of favor (even though a number of popular vinyl record albums were recorded to be played back using a dbx decoder…and they were quiet!) as did cassettes, and although I bought a backup dbx tape deck when I saw the writing on the wall, I knew I would need to move on when I could. Then came recordable CD's. So, I spent thousand more hours re-recording all of my dbx tapes onto CD's, I surely wouldn't mind having back the time it took me to all of this.

    Sure, I remember reading about it in Stereo Review. I remember wishing I could hear one of the DBX encoded records. Techmoan finally gave me a chance to hear what they sounded like:

    It was never quite able to compete with Dolby in the tape arena.

    It's not good to assume that you're set for life, but I WILL say that I have 35 year old CDs that sound every bit as good as they ever did (actually better, since the rest of my system is better).

    On a side note, Doug Sax of Sheffield Labs Records had one of the worst cases of sour grapes I've ever seen when CD came along. His raison d'être was obliterated. Happens a lot with technology.

  164. EricSchulz

    When I worked for Marriott in downtown Denver (twentysome years ago) our clientele was mostly convention attendees and business travelers. With all the great restaurants we had in the downtown area at that time the majority wanted to know how far we were from The Cheesecake Factory. Far too many people will settle for what's familiar rather than take a chance on something new.

    I work as a MOD in a motel. People come from far and wide — even internationally — and stay with us. Doesn't matter where these people are from, a fair proportion of them will ask where the nearest Wal*Mart or Burger King is. Why, I wonder, are you spending a fortune on this vacation of yours if not to experience local attractions and culture and cuisine? What, you would rather experience a familiar KFC buffet in a crumby generic restaurant rather than go a mere few miles to our Maine coast and sit at a picnic table with a fresh-caught lobster and some steamers and an ear of locally-grown corn? Tourists who come here ostensibly for a northeastern coastal experience and then ask about the nearest national franchise are completely blowing their money. Fact: the staff laugh at you behind your backs. If you are that dependent upon the cushy and familiar, save yourself a lot of money and stay home, for god's sake. On the other hand, no…come anyway. We need your money.

    Wasn't this a Barnes and Noble thread?

    Sorry…

  165. Adam Lenhardt

    For some people, I think the limitations of vinyl and the analog artifacts resulting from a format reliant on physical contact are part of the appeal.

    If you have a spare $15,000 lying around for a laser turntable, you can ditch the "physical contact" part.

    http://diffuser.fm/laser-turntable/

    Now all they need to do is to drop a couple of '0's off the price tag … find a TARDIS … and take the laser turntable back to when vinyl was still mainstream.

  166. I remember when I first got The Empire Strikes Back on cd and was amazed at how many more instruments I could hear compared to my LP. Maybe my lack of Hi-Fi equipment was the reason, I don't know. No more pops, and crackles just a cleaner sound.

  167. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2…r-kryptonite-compact-discs-vinyl-format-music

    But while CDs make up only 30% of the total global market for recorded music, 42% of the UK population still choose CDs as their preferred format, according to a YouGov report. Of this 42%, two-thirds said they would probably still be listening to them in five years.

    CDs the next nostalgia craze? Guess I'll hang on to them. I also have an original iPod I still use in my gym workout every week. If you wait long enough, everything becomes hip again. Maybe even my aol email address. (It's only 5 characters!)

  168. Hollywoodaholic

    I also have an original iPod I still use in my gym workout every week.

    Me too. Everyone else in the gym is more interested in their phones than their workouts, while me and my iPod just get down to business.

  169. Stopped by my local Barnes and Noble today. They were dismantling the media department. They removed the separate security and cash register. I asked and they said they were shrinking media section, not eliminating it, and that the space will now include toys and games. Sad day.

  170. Well with the loss of Toys R Us, it is to be expected other Brick and Morter stores would jump at expanding into that area. Those media areas at B&N were starting to get scarce in the CD section.

  171. Garysb

    Stopped by my local Barnes and Noble today. They were dismantling the media department. They removed the separate security and cash register. I asked and they said they were shrinking media section, not eliminating it, and that the space will now include toys and games. Sad day.

    Our local B&N is doing the same thing. Must be corporate wide now. The other one close to me already transitioned a few months back. I noticed the Criterion section is still fairly well supplied though. Vinyl records too.

  172. skylark68

    I noticed the Criterion section is still fairly well supplied though.

    It would seem a fully-stocked shelf is part of their arrangement with Criterion. Surely they don't move a ton of product when they're not 50% off.

    It will be interesting to see how that may or may not change in the near future if everything else in media is getting shrunk.

  173. The B&Ns that I go to in NYC a few months back put all CDs in alphabetical order by artist, instead of having seperate sections for genre (classical aside). There also used to be a seperate budget CD section ($5-$10), which has been eliminated.

  174. Barnes & Noble weighing 'strategic alternatives' that could include sale

    By KATE FELDMAN
    | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
    OCT 03, 2018 | 8:20 PM

    [​IMG]
    Barnes & Noble was founded in 1965. (Mari Matsuri / AFP/Getty Images)

    Barnes & Noble may not be getting its storybook ending.

    The brick-and-mortar book store announced Wednesday that it’s naming a special committee to “evaluate strategic alternatives” amid “expressions of interest from multiple parties” in acquiring the company.
    Among its options could be a sale, possibly to Charman Leonard Riggio, who founded the company in 1965.
    Barnes & Noble boasts 629 stores across the country, making it the largest retail book vendor in the United States.

    Stock of the bookstore had dropped more than 18% this year before jumping 21% Wednesday after the announcement.

    Barnes & Noble, like many retailers, has faced struggles as Amazon took over the marketplace and made online shopping cheap and easy.

    Last month, the store reported quarterly revenue of $795 million, a 7% drop from a year ago.

    Earlier this year, CEO Demos Parneros was fired for violating company policies, including alleged sexual harassment, which he denied.

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