Why Is Barnes and Noble as Complacently Dumb as It Is? — You Would Think that Amazon’s Internet Presence Would Have Given the Brick and Mortar Bookstore Something to Simulate, so as to Stay Relevant — a Review

© 2013 Peter Free


13 February 2013 (updated 16 February 2013)



Some businesses are so reluctant to change with the times — that they lose previously loyal customers


Barnes and Noble appears to be one of these Behemoths of Recalcitrant Stupidity.


It is as if the corporation is exclusively staffed with ostrich mentalities, who are too blind to recognize that their ship is sinking faster than their lazy hands can bail.



An illustrative tale of consumer woe


A few days ago, my wife and I bought a Nook HD+.  The hardware is as good as reviews have indicated.  But the rest of my experience with it has not been.


B&N represented the first Nook book that I got for the tablet (Francis Sell’s Small Game Hunting) to have been published in 2012.  Its e-book cover, pictured on the company’s website, shows a young man holding a modern semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip.


Once the book downloaded, I saw that it had actually been copyrighted in 1955 and not updated since.


In addition to these two misrepresentations regarding the book’s 58-year old origin — the 2012 date and the visually misleading book cover — the electronic version is improperly formatted.  It has numerous sentence fragments, blank pages, partial pages, and photographs too tiny to see.  All told, Sell’s book is out of date and relatively useless.


I thought I would let potential buyers know this by putting a book review on Barnes’ website.  That turned into an equally irritating sequence.  Which answered the question of why so few of B&N’s books have been reviewed by customers.


My first time through the review process, I couldn’t get the site to accept my text.  It took the numerical rating, but not the written substance, nor my submitted “pen name.


A few hours later, the website accepted the written review (and my newly created pen name), but formatted the review’s text incorrectly.


There is no edit or delete function.  Nor can one access one’s reviews via one’s pen name or account settings.


I wondered whether there might be a work-around.  I had noticed that the written submission had deleted my earlier entered (now duplicative) numerical rating.  Obviously, the B&N server had recorded my computer’s IP address.


Consequently, I thought that I might be able to correct the formatting errors by resubmitting the correction in a new review.  Wouldn’t Barnes’ server simply dump the previous review with the corrected new one?


Nope.  The system denied the corrected version.



Why does any of this matter? — Business survival


If you frequently see mentions to specific book titles, you will have noticed that almost everyone links that title to Amazon’s site.  Not to Barnes and Noble’s.


Perhaps too many folks have had negative experiences similar to mine with B&N.  If there are virtually no reviews at B&N, and the site is annoyingly clunky, why bother doing the company a favor by posting a link to it?



Barnes and Noble’s ostrich mentality


Any fool can see that Amazon’s customer-originated book review function is a huge plus.  Who wants to buy an unreviewed book, especially at today’s prices?


A smart business person, coming from a brick and mortar environment like B&N’s, should recognize that the details of Amazon’s success provides a model with which to keep from being obliterated in the market.  But over the years, I have not seen one sign that Barnes and Noble is attempting to keep up.


My fiasco today is an example.  Amazon’s success in patenting some of its software surely cannot present a full bar to partially emulating the utility of Amazon’s website.  To wit, notice Samsung’s success in circumventing litigiously minded Apple.



So much for Customer Service


I emailed B&N’s link for Customer Service about the book review problem and received their automated reply that they would respond in 12 to 24 hours.  More than three full days later, still no reply.



Goodbye loyal customers


I have long been frequenting B&N stores with the intent of keeping the company afloat against the Amazon juggernaut.  That, for example, is why we bought the Nook tablet.


But no more.  I have a low tolerance for fools, especially determined fools.



The moral? — If one is too unmotivated to replicate someone else’s easily visible pattern for success, one deserves to go extinct


Good riddance.