The always insightful Kristen Lamb wrote a post about Barnes and Noble, which you can find here:
This was my comment, packed full of my ideas:
It would be a shame if B&N shut down. I’m one of those strange people who still likes to go to an actual bookstore.
Obviously embracing the Indie author would be their salvation. Offer to host Indie book tours where six new writers (each from a different genre) would be in-store for a book signing. The indie authors that know how to use social media to get people to come out. B&N handles all the travel and expenses for the trip. Then offer monthly writing workshops. Who buys more books than writers? (Librarians maybe… but hey, I’m trying to make a point!) Get in with groups like NaNoWriMo. If B&N can figure out how to best help out authors, in turn authors will figure out how to best keep B&N alive.
The stores could hire someone full-time at each location to offer consultation on query letters, first chapters, marketing, and other author services. Perhaps a sort of deal could be worked out. B&N helps get you published, they get that first 90 days of marketing. (Yes, steal the idea from Amazon.) But here’s the thing, if the store starts causing these new indie authors to break popular best-seller lists, there would be a line out the door of authors who are interested.
Along those lines, consider the popularity of restaurants that allow customers to watch the food prep. What if B&N had an author area, complete with the author services office, and the area was behind glass? Some people enjoy watching writers write. Perhaps there could even be a critique spot, where customers could weigh in on 500-word samples. Imagine the excitement and fandom of a sporting event, mixed with writing. Yes, it’s hard to be a writer. Some days the writer’s block wins. But maybe a fan favorite writer would be getting free coffee drinks.
To sum up:
If B&N wants to stay in business, they should look at what they have that the competition (aka: Amazon) does not. They have physical locations. If they can make people want to be at those locations again, they have a chance.
My assistant has three grocery stores less than a mile from her home. She does most of her shopping at one that’s ten miles away. Why? Because that grocery store has a nice cafe with tables, and she meets up with her friends at those tables every week. They grab a bite together and visit. And then she gets her shopping done. That store made itself convenient.
A consumer could a book of equal price at Amazon or B&N. If the consumer happens to learn about that book while at B&N, the odds that it’ll be bought there go up. Just give the person a reason to be there. That’s what my suggestions were about.