Entertainment (Short Book Stores, Long Myopic Groupthink & Algorithms)

Barnes & Noble May Follow Book World into Obsolescence

Book store sales are down 39% from a decade ago. Why? Well, avid PETITION readers know we love to discount the "Amazon Effect," generally, as most failed retail is more complicated and nuanced than that. Just ask the private equity bros. But books: that's a different story. Amazon ($AMZN) owns that sh*t. And so Book World, the nation's fourth largest physical book seller, is liquidating. And Barnes & Noble Inc. ($BKS) is slowly unraveling before our eyes. The book retailer reported holidays sales for the 9-week period ending 12/30/17 and MAN O' MAN were they crappy. Total sales were down 6.4%. At least they nailed e-commerce, right? Wrong. Online sales declined 4.5%. Comp store sales declined too, "primarily due to lower traffic." The book business declined 4.5%. And the stock collapsed 14+%. Ouch. Luckily there's some in-demand non-controversial political book out there that people are literally lining up to purchase. You know, that little one about @realdonaldtrump. Hopefully they can capitalize on that

Ironically, of course, Amazon has launched 15 physical book stores and they're a sight to behold. We checked in on one for the first time over the holidays and several things struck us. One, the footprint of the place was dramatically smaller than the typical, say, BKS, with reduced inventory to match. Two, the signage/placards emphasized the online reviews in lieu of prices. Third, most of the displays emphasized best sellers and wish list selections. You know, that old data play. There isn't much discovery there. Just a small selection of "popular" books force fed to the populace so that everyone can come to the very same conclusions from the very same books. Awesome.