Yes, I have a vested interest in keeping Barnes and Noble open. From everything I've read lately, it's on the verge of bankruptcy. I hope I'm wrong and that this is just media looking for a dramatic story. But I don't think I'm wrong. I'm in B&N a lot and it doesn't look like business is brisk.
I am a writer. I'm writing a new book that I want to sell to a publisher. Who, hopefully, will place it in bookstores. The indies are making a come back, thank heavens to Murgatroyd, but the reality is that we writers need as many venues as possible to market out books because the marketplace should NOT be limited to amazon's mathematical algorithms. If B&N closes shop, then we will all be relegated to self-publishing.
B&N: I BEG YOU TO PLEASE READ THIS!
There is nothing you can do about amazon's predatory pricing. But what you can do is making your stores a destination. Borders used to be good at this, and, yes, I know it didn't save them, but the marketplace is smaller now. You have less competition. Below are a host of ideas to get people into your stores.
1. Partner with local businesses. Hook up with travel agents and have them do show and tells once a month on places to go. In fact, sign with Rick Steves and have him do events in your stores. Can't get Rick Steves? Have local travel agents come in to market travel destinations. And, naturally, you'll have books available on discount for said destination! I would actually do this twice a month. Once for locations in the U.S. and one event for locations outside of the U.S.
2. Partner with local schools. Essentially create a book fair on site. I noticed that in your efforts to reduce all other merchandising of books, the kids' sections remain robust. Clearly you have a market there. Target grades. Have a storyteller there EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY dressed up as a princess, a clown, whatever, and have them read to young kids. And just by chance, you'll have a table stocked with books right there! with age-appropriate materials.
3. The cookbook section also seems robust. There seems to be a new rash of cookbooks published every month. Get authors in there for cooking demos.
4. Start a mystery reader's club. Host this twice a month. Mystery readers love reading books in series. You get someone hooked on one book in a series, you have them hooked for all of them.
5. Ditto for sci-fi club.
6. Ditto for young adult club.
7. START HOSTING AUTHOR EVENTS AGAIN!
I'm sure other people have other ideas about this. But the salient fact is that you are not optimizing your floor space. Stop filling it with thingamybobs. Fill it with people. Amazon cannot compete with you on this score. The ONE thing you can provide and you are not providing is the personal interaction with the public. Readers want that. Make your store a destination. Yes, probably people will attend your events and then rush home to buy books off of amazon. But over time you will create brand loyalty (if you survive).
Case in point. I attend my writers' critique group twice a month at a B&N in Dublin. I don't buy something every single time, but I do buy something once a month. Why? Because I'm there and I was browsing through your stacks and I saw something.
Get off your tushes and start thinking about ways to get people in your stores.