linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
Also of interest...

Barnes & Noble

  Barnes & Noble
booking it
by Barry Silverstein
February 10, 2010

Barnes & Noble doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. The world’s largest bookseller operates 775 retail stores in all fifty states in the US, plus another 636 college bookstores. That’s right, those bookstores on campuses around the United States are largely run by Barnes & Noble. Many of the Barnes & Noble stores also have cafés.

Barnes & Noble actually stocks over 1 million titles for immediate delivery – more than any other online bookseller, even Amazon. And the company sells over 300 million books per year.

It certainly isn’t an easy business to be in, with intense online competition from Amazon, as well as retail competition from chains like Borders, who also owns Waldenbooks, and Books-A-Million. But the company’s size, diversification, and innovation all work in its favor.

Customers, it seems, love the Barnes & Noble brand, which was ranked first in the 2010 Forrester Research “Customer Experience Index.” The Index ranks 133 US companies across 14 industries using feedback from more than 4,600 consumers. Rankings are based on a company’s ability to meet needs, and whether it’s easy and enjoyable to do business with. This was the second year in a row that Barnes & Noble took first place.

Barnes & Noble was a flagging bookstore in the 1970s, when it was purchased by Leonard Riggio. He turned the company’s flagship location on Fifth Avenue in New York City into “the world’s largest bookstore” – way before Amazon came along to challenge the claim. It was Barnes & Noble that started the practice of discounting bestsellers in 1975. Then Barnes & Noble went on an acquisition spree in the 1980s, acquiring B. Dalton Bookseller, Doubleday Bookshops, and BookStop. These acquisitions led to Barnes & Noble establishing the “superstore” format in malls for which it has become known.

Arguably, Barnes & Noble was late to the Internet party. While the company sold books online in the mid 1990s, it didn’t launch its own website until May 1997, fully two years after the founding of

It has been Barnes & Noble’s innovation, both offline and online, that has kept this brand in the forefront of the book publishing industry. In fact, Barnes & Noble is not just a bookseller – it is also a publisher. The company publishes its own line of previously out-of-print titles, “Barnes & Noble Classics.” It owns Sterling Publishing, a non-fiction book publisher, and, a study aids website.

In the rapidly emerging eBook market, Barnes & Noble is playing a high-stakes game. In 2009, Barnes & Noble acquired Fictionwise, a leading eBook publisher. In July 2009, the company launched what it claims is the world’s largest online eBookstore. In October 2009, Barnes & Noble took its boldest step yet, introducing its “Nook” eBook reader. The Nook puts the company squarely in the competitive crosshairs of not just Amazon, but also technology companies like Apple and Sony. The Nook offers access to a library of over one million eBooks, newspapers and magazines. It was ranked number 2 in’s “Top 10 Gadgets of 2009” (number 1 was the Droid smartphone).

Barnes & Noble has recently been involved in cross-media promotion. In January 2010, for example, the company joined with HBO to promote “Temple Grandin,” an HBO non-fiction film about autism advocate/animal researcher Temple Grandin. Prior to the movie’s premiere on February 6, Barnes & Noble held an in-store event featuring the movie’s “heroine” reading from her autobiographical books. Barnes & Noble accompanied the movie launch with its own microsite and a downloadable coloring book commissioned by HBO and intended to introduce facts about autism to children.

To reinforce its position as a resource in communities where its stores are located, Barnes & Noble has adopted an aggressive community outreach program that includes a holiday book drive, a summer reading program, book fairs, story times, and costume character visits for children. The company is active in promoting autism and Down syndrome awareness, and it donates books, toys, and games to America Supports You, an organization that aids members of the US armed services and their families.

As a brand, Barnes & Noble has a high degree of on-street and online awareness. In its Fiscal 2010 second quarter, ending October 31, 2009, Barnes & Noble’s store sales decreased, but Internet sales increased 9 percent over the prior year. Overall, the company had a 4 percent increase in sales in the second quarter, compared to the prior year. This is a company that looks to book more business in the future.


Barry Silverstein has been a frequent brandchannel contributor since 2007. He has thirty years of advertising and marketing experience and is currently a freelance writer and marketing consultant. He founded and ran his own direct marketing agency and held executive positions with Epsilon, a leading database marketing firm and Arnold, a major ad agency. Silverstein is the author of three marketing books, including the McGraw-Hill book, The Breakaway Brand, which he co-authored with Arnold CEO Fran Kelly.

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 11 )  email

  brandchannel profile archive   2011  | 2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Dec 17, 2010 JanSport - Back in Style -- Barry Silverstein
  Going beyond the outdoor enthusiast market.
Dec 10, 2010 Cadbury’s Caramilk - Chocolate Tempation -- Renée Alexander
  Sinfully sweet treat draws flack from concerned parents
Dec 3, 2010 Howard Johnson - On the Road Again -- Barry Silverstein
  Symbolic of a bygone era, Howard Johnson’s restaurants dotted America’s highways through the middle of the 20th Century. How are they adapting?
Nov 19, 2010 V8 - Almost 80 and Still Making a Splash -- Barry Silverstein
  A grand old brand concocts new ways to reinvent itself.
Nov 11, 2010 Crystal Head - One Spooky, Outlaw Spirit -- Renée Alexander
  Comedian Dan Aykroyd pitches Crystal Head’s skull-shaped vodka bottle
Nov 5, 2010 Mark’s - New Name, Same Value to Canadians -- Renée Alexander
  Mark’s Work Wearhouse rebrands to simply “Mark’s” in Canada.
Oct 29, 2010 Biltmore - From Landmark to Brandmark -- Barry Silverstein
  If America had royalty, the Vanderbilts would qualify — and Biltmore is their legacy.
Oct 22, 2010 RedMoon - Pet Food Done Right -- Barry Silverstein
  Canada’s RedMoon creates custom pet food with a twist.
Oct 15, 2010 Clorox Green Works - Walking the Talk -- Sheila Shayon
  The #1 green cleaning brand in the U.S. aims to walk its talk.
Oct 8, 2010 Cuba - Still Sways to Che -- Renee Alexander
  The halo effect of Che Guevara on Cuba’s brand is still strong.
Oct 1, 2010 North Dakota - RU Legendary? -- Renee Alexander
  One of the smallest states in the U.S., North Dakota can't boast famous landmarks, but makes a big splash via smart branding and social media savvy.
Sep 24, 2010 Corning - Clearly an innovator -- Barry Silverstein
  How Corning brand became recognized for its leadership and innovation.
Sep 17, 2010 Kenmore - A classic appliance brand gets a makeover -- Barry Silverstein
  Kenmore, the classic American appliance brand, is getting a makeover.
Sep 10, 2010 Pinkberry - Seize the Whirl -- Sheila Shayon
  Brandchannel interviews Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves about how the brand is ramping up across America and internationally.
Aug 27, 2010 Sleeman - Notoriously Brewed -- Renee Alexander
  Sleeman Breweries may be owned by Japan's Sapporo, but it's proud of its "notorious" Canadian heritage.
Aug 20, 2010 Social Twist - Bring Your Friends -- Sheila Shayon
  Social Twist aims to turn social media into social marketing through the lens of trust and referrals.
Aug 13, 2010 Kit Kat - Extending Sweetness -- Barry Silverstein
  Kit Kat has mastered the art of line extension – the practice of producing many variations of the same brand in the same category – perhaps to the point of absurdity.
Aug 6, 2010 Sezmi - Personalized TV, at Your Service -- Sheila Shayon
  In a rapidly evolving era when U.S. cable and satellite operators are competing fiercely to deliver personalized, portable TV, Sezmi offers a fresh alternative at a fraction of the cost.
Jul 30, 2010 Stella Artois - Premium Chic -- Yew Fei Chan
  With a stylish branding campaign and a new label, Stella Artois Black, Stella Artois is upping the stakes in its bid to make the brand the sophisticates' bewitching cold brew of choice.
Jul 23, 2010 Alibaba - Online Riches -- Barry Silverstein, the Chinese business-to-business global trade platform that went public in November 2007 with a record-breaking IPO, continues to break down barriers.
Jul 16, 2010 ngmoco:) - Playing Games -- Barry Silverstein
  From the name of the company to the mobile games it makes for the iPhone and other smartphones, ngmoco:) seems to be functioning in an alternate universe.
Jul 8, 2010 Chantecaille - Nature's Beauty -- Chan Yew Fei
  The Chantecaille brand, and family, bring their passion for nature and the environment to their global beauty business.
Jul 1, 2010 TMZ - Hollywood Insider -- Robyn Schechter
  Celebrity scandal and gossip is a thriving industry -- here's why the TMZ brand is enjoying a reputation for being the industry leader.
Jun 25, 2010 Honest Tea - Leaves You Feeling Refreshed -- Barry Silverstein
  Honest Tea came from humble roots to become President Obama's favorite tea, and become part of the Coca-Cola stable of beverage brands
Jun 18, 2010 Canon - Picturing a Future Beyond Cameras -- Barry Silverstein
  While many consumers still know Canon for its legacy cameras, perhaps even more recognize the name from the company’s other products, which include calculators, scanners, office copying machines, computer printers, LCD projectors, and medical equipment.
Jun 11, 2010 IV-7 - The Next Generation of Germ Defense -- Sheila Shayon
  As the BP oil spill and Gulf Coast disaster continues to grip the headlines, public debate about our increasingly toxic environment and the efficacy and safety of disinfectant products continues to rage. Enter IV-7, a new non-toxic disinfectant.
Jun 4, 2010 BYD - Driving China Electric -- Barry Silverstein
  As Chinese brands continue to grow on a global scale, brand names previously known only within China’s borders are now generating worldwide awareness. BYD is one such company, having risen from relative obscurity to a brand that has caused quite a stir because of its new electric car, the e6.
May 28, 2010 Acupuncture Records - China’s Piercing Electronic Music Brand -- Laura Fitch
  Acupuncture Records promotes China’s alternative music to the world
May 21, 2010 Crocs - Back in Style -- Shirley Brady
  Crocs are back in style
May 14, 2010 Red Mango - Finally, Frozen Yogurt Done Right -- Dale Buss
  Red Mango, frozen yogurt done right
May 7, 2010 Habbo - virtual mall -- Shirley Brady
  Habbo, which bills itself as the largest virtual world for teenagers, boasts more than 16.5 million unique visitors and a selling proposition for brands.
Apr 30, 2010 HTC - on call -- Barry Silverstein
  HTC has become renowned as a high-tech brand and innovative company of firsts.
Apr 23, 2010 AirAsia - high flyer -- Barry Silverstein
  Malaysia's discount airline is also Asia’s fastest growing airline.
Apr 15, 2010 PBS - broadcasting with purpose -- Barry Silverstein
  The public’s trust in PBS may help save journalism.
Apr 7, 2010 Eno - eno-ough? -- Laura Fitch
  Eno builds grass roots franchises in China.
Mar 31, 2010 Dos Equis - most interesting? -- Renée Alexander
  Dos Equis sheds Mexican stereotypes for “interesting.”
Mar 25, 2010 Barilla - pastability -- Barry Silverstein
  Barilla cooks up old school pasta with modern marketing.
Mar 17, 2010 Madécasse - rich -- Barry Silverstein
  How Madécasse is putting Madagascar on the branding map.
Mar 10, 2010 Bacon Salt - kosher -- Barry Silverstein
  Bacon Salt adds flavor to a new brand category.
Mar 4, 2010 E*TRADE - oh baby -- Barry Silverstein
  E*TRADE doesn’t kid with your money.
Feb 24, 2010 Bruegger’s - dough boys -- Barry Silverstein
  Bruegger’s brand rises to the challenge.
Feb 17, 2010 Windborne Music - progressive rock -- Robyn Schechter
  Windborne Music’s unique brand of rock symphony.
Feb 3, 2010 Kashi - on a mission -- Barry Silverstein
  How Kashi helps itself by saving the world.
Jan 27, 2010 ASICS - runner up -- Barry Silverstein
  How ASICS keeps pace with bigger shoe brands.
Jan 20, 2010 Hudson’s Bay Company - medals? -- Renée Alexander
  How the Hudson’s Bay Company will compete at the Olympics.
Jan 13, 2010 5-Hour Energy - powered up -- Barry Silverstein
  5-Hour Energy overpowers the competition.
Jan 6, 2010 Cesar Millan - fetching? -- Barry Silverstein
  Why Cesar Millan is leader of the pack.