Thursday, August 8, 2019

Saving Barnes & Noble

The New York Times profiles James Daunt, founder of Daunt Books and managing director of the Waterstones bookstore chain. Daunt is soon to leave London for New York to serve as the new chief executive at Barnes & Noble:

His guiding assumption is that the only point of a bookstore is to provide a rich experience in contrast to a quick online transaction. And for now, the experience at Barnes & Noble isn’t good enough.

“Frankly, at the moment you want to love Barnes & Noble, but when you leave the store you feel mildly betrayed,” Mr. Daunt said over lunch at a Japanese restaurant near his office in Piccadilly Circus. “Not massively, but mildly. It’s a bit ugly — there’s piles of crap around the place. It all feels a bit unloved, the booksellers look a bit miserable, it’s all a bit run down.

“And every year, fewer people come in, or people come in less often. That has to turn around. Otherwise . . .”
The opening anecdote in this Times piece — three degrees? four? — suggests that Daunt brings to his work a Steve Jobs-like intensity of attention to detail.

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