SPECIAL REPORT: The Transforming Booksellers’ Landscape
The agreement with Macy’s dates from when the department store was known as Marshall Field’s and owned by Target Corp., which offered retail space to the bookseller as part of an effort to partner with local businesses, Schwartz says. The venture has proven successful enough to carry over under new ownership and the Macy’s brand.
Barbara’s also supplies books for Macy’s stores around the country, which the latter sells in its children’s and men’s departments—part of a growing trend of nontraditional book retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger and Costco, making a significant dent in the book market.
“I think we’re becoming important,” says Bob Nelson, vice president of finance and operations at Costco. “We are carrying the best-sellers, and we do a lot of volume in the books we carry. We’re not everything to everybody—we offer mainstream popular authors and carry these books at a great price ….”
Nelson says Costco focuses on categories such as cooking, religion, self-help, fiction and coffee-table books. “We offer many different types of books, but are not real deep in any one category,” he says.
None of which is to say that the superstore concept will go away anytime soon, as evidenced by Powell’s Books, whose continued expansion has been driven by a focus on the fundamentals of customer service and a rewarding in-store experience, according to Dave Weich, director of marketing and development. Plans call for the flagship store—Portland’s second-largest indoor tourist attraction—to grow to 80,000 square feet by 2010.
The store pioneered, in physical form, what has become the Internet standard of offering used and new books side by side, and the store’s Web site is essentially an online extension of its brick-and-mortar parent (which operates six stores nationwide, as well as five warehouses).
“From the start, our role has been to give the customer as much choice as possible, and in some respects that has led to expansion after expansion of the downtown store,” Weich says. “We are devoting most of our time and energy to optimizing the experience for local people. We added in-store pickups so people could order online and pick up at stores. We are also currently working on applications for mobile phones so people can search our inventory by store … or look up their friend’s wish list on their mobile phone, so if they are in the store and want to buy a gift, they can get it right there.”
- Alibris Elliot
- Amazon s Director of Digital Text Laura Porco
- Anne Roman
- B. Dalton
- Bob Nelson
- Brian Elliot
- Carolyn Brown
- Cliff Green
- Dave Weich
- David Schwartz
- James Sturdivant
- Marshall Field
- Michael Healy
- Mike Shatzkin
- Peter Beisser
- Phil Ollila
- Richard Davies
- Thomas Woll
- Valerie Motis