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May 28, 2014 / jeffnward

Quick Hit: Barnes & Noble, you haven’t changed a bit

Is it just me, or is big box brick and mortar retail completely lost? Like newspapers, they seem to be convinced that if you simply reject that Internet reality and repeat all manner of past behavior, everything will be alright. barnes

I used to love bookstores. My wife and I would end our dates at bookstores (I’m such a geek!). I may well be one of the last people who can tell you that Kroch’s and Brentano’s isn’t one of those late night Channel 26 law firms.

The sad truth is, before today, I hadn’t stepped foot in a bookstore in well over three years. Between membership sales pitches, a generally indifferent staff, a dwindling number of in-stock titles, and the advent of e-books, Amazon makes it so much easier.

But since I was already feeding my sushi habit at the Commons, in an effort to expand my writing possibility horizons, I popped into Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy of Mother Jones and The New Yorker.

It was the chain’s big opportunity to win me back.

Apparently they now have a greeter/nook person up front who’s job it is to completely ignore you. Just for journalist purposes, I stood by the doorway for about 10 seconds before the gentleman offered a stilted hello.

Then, with those periodicals firmly in hand, I headed over to the register and, sure enough, there was one clerk working at the 12:50 height of the lunch hour. And, sure enough, the first person in the line wanted to do a return.

I actually found myself longing for an automatic checkout option!

Even I know it doesn’t herald the end of western civilization, but how does purchasing two magazines turn into a 15 minute effort? They eventually did open a second register and, even though the nice new lady politely apologized for the wait, I wanted to reply that the Amazon checkout experience is virtually instantaneous.

Not to mention I could’ve gotten the same Kindle Mother Jones issue for 84 percent less than I paid Barnes & Noble.

And all it would’ve taken to have made that trip worthwhile was one more possibly part-time minimum wage clerk. But in their infinite wisdom, those far flung book store executives believe that customer service is optional.

That was my last trip to a bookstore.

One Comment

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  1. The Observer / May 28 2014 3:38 pm

    You forgot that the clerk would ask you if you wanted to join their “buyers’ Club,” and pay a fee of $25 for the privilege of getting a ‘discount.”

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