More About the Barnes & Noble Renaissance

Interesting STUFF from the Wall Street Journal regarding the upswing in Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ fortunes. It seems to me that the revival of the hallowed chain is due to variegated strands of cultural and economic influences and shifts, but one must admit that it is more than a little ironic that renewed focus upon a local, friendly neighborhood bookstore “model” (of the sort that were crushed under the steamrolling big chains 15-20 years ago) is getting the lion’s share of credit, lately.

Oddly enough, I rarely thought of Barnes & Noble as one of the primary culprits in the decline of “indie” bookstores, at least not in California. The heaving juggernauts of Amazon and Borders seemed more than sufficient when it came to literally seeing how smaller stores were overwhelmed in most Main Street communities. I always thought that Borders, especially, overshot its mark by opening gigantic outlets with overheads that would eventually prove unsustainable once Amazon had really sunk its fangs into the global marketplace for books, et al.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall, at least in the case of Borders’ shocking demise. At all events, THIS is an interesting—if not entirely probative—perspective on B&N’s present revival. (Didn’t every large chain bookstore try to masquerade as a “quaint” neighborhood gathering-spot, replete with cafes and bistro offerings? I always got the impression that Barnes & Noble stores managed to walk the tightrope between being too coldly gargantuan and terminally limited in buying power, thereby maintaining a sliver of sustainability when times got rough. Oh well, decide for yourself. I, for one, like their bookstores quite a bit and am happy to visit specialty bookstores, as well.)


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