Barnes & Noble’s Big Mistake…Or Is It?

I’ve read far more articles than I would like to admit about ebooks vs. print books, online stores vs. brick and mortar stores, etc.  There are interesting facts and opinions all over the place, some of them reasonable and some just ridiculous.  Many people want to blame online stores like Amazon for the downfall of brick and mortars, an idea that has been punched right in the eye by the opening of Amazon’s physical store.  But it turns out that retailers might just be shooting themselves in the foot.

Over the weekend, my husband and I were at our local Barnes & Noble.  He was there for some coffee, I was there to sniff books.  The kids were gone for the weekend, so we got to spend our time looking at overpriced Doctor Who merchandise and bargain books that we will never read instead of lounging around the children’s section.

My husband decided to look for a particular cookbook he’s interested in.  (I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who cooks, and who does it well.  He puts anything I make to shame.  He doesn’t even need a cookbook 99% of the time, but he likes to look at them for ideas.  Anyway.)  While he didn’t find the one he wanted, he found another that he liked.  It was $45 (yikes!), so he checked the price online.

I have to say here that we are big online shoppers.  Thanks to Amazon Prime, our UPS man is probably wondering if we ever leave the house. (I try my best not to.)  We buy locally whenever we can, but when the online savings are more than a couple dollars it’s hard to justify.  We work hard for our money, and we want to get the most out of it.

Okay, back to Barnes & Noble.  So the hubby finds the cookbook online and shows me the price:  $27.  That’s a pretty big difference.  And it was on Barnes & Noble’s own website.  Hmm, okay.  Well, maybe they’ll price match it?

NO.

This means that B&N is in a weird game of competition with itself.  If your own website is underselling you, what does that mean?

I could speculate about store closings, the cost of selling in person vs. selling online, or whether the bookseller is run by sock gnomes who think it’s funny to play tricks on people.  I started to read some articles, but then I spilled my coffee.  Priorities.

What are your thoughts?  Is this some awesome marketing strategy that I simply don’t see?  Do you think B&N just doesn’t have their stuff together since their site relaunch?  Or that their employees are germophobes who don’t want to have to deal with real people?  Should they start a price matching program, or do they want to reward us for shopping in our underwear?  Feel free to leave your sock gnome conspiracy theories in the comments below!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Barnes & Noble’s Big Mistake…Or Is It?

  1. Hi Ashley: It doesn’t make much sense, does it? The short answer is: B&N retail stores and B&N.com are different companies (WTF!). They each have their own management, operations, and price structure and their policy is not to price match one another. To learn more read this informative post: https://consumerist.com/2013/11/13/barnes-nobles-online-price-match-policy-still-confuses-customers-drives-them-away/
    And yes, this does turn off a lot of customers.
    Cheers, Alex

  2. It’s a strange world isn’t it! With clothes/shoes I like to browse online and then go to the actual shop to view and try on/ check the colour etc. With books I will view in the shop and then buy online. I do my main weekly shop online and top up in local shops. Large, bulky items such as cat litter, cat food, bird seed I buy online which saves carrying and is a lot cheaper. How we have moved on in so very short a time – frightening!

    • It’s just so much easier to shop online! We buy the majority of our groceries locally, but all the other bits and pieces seem to magically show up on our doorstep in Amazon boxes! I’ll definitely have to check out buying pet food that way. So far we have had good luck with fish tank supplies online.

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