01 July, 2012

Review: Barnes & Noble vs Anyone Else

No. Really.
This is a US-centric tale told in reverse order. It begins yesterday. 

I very rarely do business with Barnes & Noble.  I don't like the way they conduct themselves. As of today, I won't bother with them until the going out of business sale. The kids saw a book and craft combo for $16 during a kill some time browsing session. I told them before I opened it I wanted to check the online reviews. Turns out the chain exclusive set is available for $7 online. With free store pickup. From the same location.

Yes, I'm returning it. It's the final straw in my Barnes & Noble coffin. I differ from many readers in my choice of retailer. Here are my standards. Don't screw me over and I will shower you with money. That's it, that is the full list. You don't need rock bottom prices (although I love a bargain as much as the next girl.) You don't need the fanciest or most stylish location. You need to have the item I want to buy (or get it in a timely fashion) and not screw me. Barnes & Noble has repeatedly failed the test. 

The blogworld asks me to shower my money upon different vendors. In the beginning, I was as anti-Amazon as the next girl. I thought their discounted prices were a result of their inflated shipping costs and I ordered from other sources. Then Amazon stopped screwing me on shipping. I was a strong supporter of Waldenbooks until they closed, then Borders until they did the same. During these years the blogworld begged me to shop at my local indie retailer. I didn't have one. Haven't had one for a good 25 years. So thanks, blogworld, but I can't sign on. Then they wanted me to mail order from my local indie retailer, chosen apparently at random. I tried a few. I had an 80% order correct completion rate. I went digital. I supported digital indie retailers. Then Agency publishing driven by Apple and Barnes & Noble screwed me. And them. I stopped showering those publishers with money. I went Harlequin and Amazon. (Most of my big six reviews are library or ARC driven. I considered dropping all reviews for those publishers, but with book buying dollars more important honest reviews seemed more important to me.) Avon revised their pricing  and I said ok, Avon can get showered with my money again. 

The big trend in blogworld now is begging me to support Barnes & Noble. I don't see why. They screw me every chance they get. They screw me in the store by charging me double what they charge me if I don't impulse buy. (That is some messed up retail logic right there.) They screw me with the worst digital customer service of anyone I've dealt with ever. They screwed me with price fixing in the digital world which was preceded by price fixing in the paper world. None of the tactics they are currently in hot water for, that I am currently being asked to support them through, are new. Barnes & Noble has never been a retail white knight, ever. I'm done showering them with money and I'm done with being asked to. Stick a fork in them and let's all move on. You know what I would support? Here's a small business idea. Open a kiosk with a computer terminal and one copy of a few hundred books. Let me browse them. I'll pick the ones I want and you'll send a download link to my email. Don't screw me and I'll shower you with money. Just make sure the books aren't Agency, because until the DOJ is done with them I am as well. 


  1. My sympathies. I am so lucky that the vast majority of the books I purchase are eBooks from small publishers and so have no geographical restrictions. I buy them from All Romance eBooks - it's the 'Buy 10 Get One Free' I adore :) As for more mainstream books? I borrow those from my library. I *heart* my library.

    And I *heart* The Book Depository. Free shipping, free shipping, free shipping!

  2. Well said. "Don't screw me over and I'll shower you with money." So simple you'd think more retailers would get it.