|Weekly News Digest
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'What James Daunt Did and Did Not Say About Barnes & Noble's Future' by Mike Shatzkin
Mike Shatzkin writes the following on his The Idea Logical Company blog:
In what has to be considered a bit of a coup, BISG Executive Director Brian O’Leary scored a lengthy interview with B&N head James Daunt as the feature of BISG’s annual meeting which took place on September 11. Daunt had a lot to say about his plans for change at B&N, including more diversity in what the stores stock which will be a by-product of more power for individual store managers.
What publishers undoubtedly took note of were Daunt’s announced notion to lighten up on initial buys and depend more on rapid replenishment to keep books that move in stock. He seemed to expect the rapid resupply that requires to continue to come from B&N’s own warehouse infrastructure, a system of support built during a more expansionist time. So you can scratch (at least temporarily) one idea I had for restoring their financial health, which would have been to dismantle that costly infrastructure and accept a bit of a margin cut (but probably better service, I’d reckon) by depending on Ingram for resupply. …
And if Barnes & Noble sees any inherent advantage in having an online complement to their store presence, such as a ‘buy online, pick up in store’ or ‘buy in store, have delivered by post’ capability offer, Daunt did not to choose to mention them in this conversation (although the store pick up capability has been talked about [by] him in the past and curbside pick-up has been featured during the pandemic). If B&N sees any threat from Amazon expanding its physical store footprint with much smaller stores, that also wasn’t mentioned.
In fact, Daunt’s hopes (you couldn’t call them ‘plans’) for the Nook got a lot more airtime than the zero allocated to dot com sales. This despite the fact that dedicated reading systems started out in service to dedicated devices. Dedicated devices have been superseded by multi-function devices. There is no real discernible point or competitive advantage to the Nook reading system. These realities were not acknowledged in the dialogue.
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