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No Thanks, bn.com

Barnes & Noble offer 10% to their members in stores, and 5% online. WTF? I'd certainly buy more books if, as soon as someone mentioned "you should get this book," I could go buy it. I can, but I don't because I say "wait, I can save more if I get it in the store." Then I wait to get it in the store, and usually forget.

If Barnes & Noble offered the same 10% to members in B&N online that they do in B&N B&M stores, I'd buy more books.

Who wouldn't? I have trouble understanding their business logic here. The stores themselves use a back end to the same online ordering system when placing orders for books they don't have, costing them more money than if they'd just sent me the darn book to begin with.

6 Responses to "No Thanks, bn.com"

  1. The 5% is in addition to their already discounted online price. So, if you're a member, you'll get 45% off the coverprice instead of 40% if you buy from bn.com.

  2. I've compared the online price to the prices in the stores. They're the same. I get an additional 10% off in the store, and only an additional 5% online. If you're a member, you save more by going in to the store.

    B&M above is "brick and mortar" of course.

  3. Not that I am justifying their net-minded ignorance or anything -- but my knee-jerk reaction to your posting about why they do this...

    The Internet is not as friendly an environment towards impulse buying. I believe their game is to lure you into the store... they often have starbuck's inside... sit down, drink a coffee, read some books, maybe buy more then you were anticipating you were going to the store for.

    The Internet doesn't offer this... people come to the online store with a specific book in mind, order it and leave.

  4. I used to work for these guys, and I don't understand why more people don't buy from them:

    http://www.powells.com

    Yes, this is a plug (one that's on-topic, but delete if you feel necessary). They have an enormous collection of used books if you don't need glossy covers but want all the text. They also have an amazing rare book room if you ever get the opportunity to visit their stores. And, they have amazing customer service - really, really amazing service.

    My time there as a web programmer wasn't a very good one and I didn't get along with some of the management, but I still buy quite a bit of books from there because the actual company as a whole is amazing, they are often cheaper than the big stores and they all fish in the same pond when it comes to distributors (in fact, unless the book is privately owned, when you buy used off of Amazon or B&N, you're normally getting it from Powell's anyways).

    So, my apologies for the plug, but I don't think I'm getting anything out of it other than the satisfaction of turning people on to something new.

  5. Some books are the same price, clicks or bricks. Sometimes the web store is cheaper than the brick and mortar, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is more expensive. Sometimes shipping charges will be applied erasing any price difference either way. And people shop differently in either. Ever bought a book online you would have left on the shelf in a brick and mortar store? Ever gone to the brick and mortar for one book, and walked out with five other books, except the one you went in for?

    The price and discount differentials you are seeing are to promote you going to one or the other, if you are price conscious. Free shipping and faster delivery? Come to the Webstore! Wait for the UPS guy all day. What do you mean you have to go to work and your neighbor steals your packages? Okay, then pick it up in the store, where the warehouse infrastructure is not set up for packaging one book at a time, and it may take a little longer to get to you, but pick it up at your convenience, see what it is like before you decide to buy, or find something better.

    Broad selection of inventory to you overnight has really sort of disappeared anyway. Amazon used to have it, and ship it. They kept this model going for some time, when they were in the red, but building customer habits. Now they are in the black, Now they are more likely to tell you it is a few days away, and ship it slow as well. Their convenience, not yours. It may be less important... you may not get it faster any other way any how. There are different flavors of instant gratification.

    You can't keep everything in the same warehouse. Sometimes all the stock is already in retail, rather than the wholesale middlemen, or publishers. Overhead varies regardless of the path, and there are different loss leaders, bargains, and high margin items, whether you drive to whatever store you buy from, or surf there.

  6. Erik, I think Mark has it down ... there are a lot of high profit extras in the physical bookstore, and B&N wants feet on the floor, and eyes on the shelves, and hands holding coffee cups.


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