In the old days, people used to visit a bookstore to get information. They might buy a book on needlepoint, pick up a magazine about fishing, and buy a map showing how to navigate around another city like Toronto or New York. Nowadays, you can get information just by going on the Internet.
Besides quick and free access to information over the Internet, you can also buy books cheaper and find a much larger selection just by visiting Amazon. With such dual forces conspiring against bookstores, it’s no wonder Borders Books shut down and Barnes & Noble has been struggling just to survive. People simply don’t go to bookstores as often as they used to because they can use the Internet or Amazon instead.
That’s why Barnes & Noble is experimenting with an expanded food and beverage offering. The goal is to attract people with food to come into the store and to keep existing customers from leaving the store too soon. The more people you can attract and the longer you can keep them there, the greater the chances they’ll buy something.
Such changes to Barnes & Noble shows that the book business alone will never return to its former massive profitability. Instead, Barnes & Nobles must resort to other means to attract and keep customers in their stores. It’s an interesting experiment and one that’s likely to succeed on some level. The big question is whether the high cost of leasing retail space can be overcome by offering food and beverages.