An opinion piece was released in The New York Times on Sunday entitled Save Barnes & Noble! which detailed the financial distress the bookstore chain is currently in and how, if we don’t speak out now, the entire company could go under and we could lose Barnes & Noble for good.
Make no mistake: the loss of over 600 more bookstores would be a cataclysmic blow to literacy and reading and empathy in America. We need Barnes & Noble. We need all bookstores, indie and chain. Pure and simple, we need books. https://t.co/uBGKAta4pL
— Chris Bohjalian (@ChrisBohjalian) May 7, 2018
Nothing can compare to browsing a bookstore and getting lost for hours reading back cover blurbs. Save Barnes & Noble.
— Kyle Designs (@designs_kyle) May 7, 2018
I don’t want to Save Barnes & Noble as much as I want to save the physical bookstore. Reading is vital and there should always be a place to purchase books.
— Max Covill (@mhcovill) May 7, 2018
Other users, however, were quick to point out that, at the end of the day, Barnes & Noble is still a Fortune 500 corporation. And that back in the 1970s and 1980s, the expansion of the chain, along with the discounted prices they began to heavily advertise, put thousands of independent and mom & pop bookstores out of business.
Respectfully disagree with the premise of @DLeonhardt‘s “Save Barnes & Noble.” Amazon disrupted B&N’s business model, just as B&N did to smaller books stores 25 years ago.
— Mark Story (@markstory_) May 7, 2018
— Kevin Kelsey (@KevinWKelsey) May 7, 2018
Don’t save Barnes & Noble. Liquidate both it and Amazon and build, supply, and staff ten thousand new libraries.
— Garbage ? (@GarbageApe) May 7, 2018
Instead of trying to save Barnes & Noble, who put so many small book stores out of business, maybe people should try getting their local governments to increase funding for libraries. You know, that place you can go any time to browse physical books and take them out for free.
— Jenny Grey (@JennyTheGrey) May 7, 2018
Personally, I feel pretty torn about this on so many levels. I do believe that it is vital for us as a society to protect and support independent booksellers, as opposed to the large capitalist corporations that already sort of run the world. And, as the author points out in this opposing article here, B&N being out-sold by a corporation as big as Amazon isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On Amazon, consumers are purchasing items through independent sources that then go through the Amazon website, resulting in a profit for both. So in a way, Barnes & Noble is actually losing out to the very bookstores they ran out of town years ago.
Still, it’d be hypocritical of me to say I don’t appreciate Barnes & Noble, corporation and all. I love B&N. It’s been my home away from home for so many different points in my life. When I lived wifi-less for six months, the B&N cafe was where I went to work. When I’ve needed a restroom, fast, while running around out in the world, I could always find a Barnes & Noble nearby. I met my favorite author there once and greeted him through a mess of shaky tears and nervous gyrating.
Whenever I’ve been in the mood to just wander around somewhere that smells like books, (mmmmmm… books) Barnes & Noble has been right where I needed it.
The loss of Barnes & Noble could potentially result in bookstores no longer being readily available in certain areas and that is both heartbreaking and nauseating on so many levels. People need books. People need bookstores. Bookstores will always act as a safe haven for many and we should ensure that they are easily accessible for all.
It is immensely important that everyone has equal access to books; books are essential to us as a society. And, without Barnes & Noble, they may be in danger.
It’s a tough situation for all. Still, if I had to choose, I think I’d risk being owned by a Fortune 500 company for the sake of keeping 600 bookstores afloat.
Featured Image via Mitzie Mee Blog