Barnes & Noble Books in Tyler Has Really Changed

by admin on June 13, 2013

in Book Stores

Barnes and Nobles EarnsI remember when Barnes and Noble books finally opened in Tyler almost twenty years ago. I remember so clearly because to this point, Tyler had lacked the kind of meeting place / bookstore that I had enjoyed in larger cities; so of course, when the giant bookseller set up shop, I was among the first to sign on. I worked there a couple of years, putting a good chunk of my paycheck back into the business. I remember working a lot of late hours and the occasional early morning, and while there where ups and downs to working at the retail store, my memories are largely good ones. Barnes and Noble did a lot for Tyler. The bookstore / Starbucks Cafe became the place to be on Friday nights, when the store featured live music, specifically the Celtic music group “Beyond the Pale.” I don’t know what happened to the band, but I know every time they played, it was to a packed house. These and other music and cultural events made Barnes and Noble a great Tyler business, and meet up location.

 

About the same time that Tyler was getting its first large bookstore, an oddly named online bookseller was just starting out. Amazon.com (which is located primarily in Seattle as opposed to its namesake in South America) was a cool new way to locate books that were otherwise hard to find. And it let the customer search its database for himself. However, it didn’t offer the immediate gratification or the social venue, of its more conventional competitor.

 

How things have changed! Amazon is of course a household name, and with the advent and availability of the “Kindle” e-readers, gratification can be instantaneous. A few years ago, I read an article predicting that the next generation would grow up without book stores, at least as a location. It predicted that conventional booksellers wouldn’t last another ten years. Sadly, the article may be correct. Barnes and Noble has obviously recognized the trend and has tried to stem the profit loss by introducing their own online store and e-reader in the “Nook,” which seems to be a fine product but lacks the broad success of the Kindle.

 

All of this is of course old news but it begs the question: What does it mean for Barnes and Noble in Tyler? I’ve visited the store in recent weeks and have been forced to recognize that it’s changing fast. The store is becoming an odd mixture of electronic device, and high end toy and game retailer. Of course they still have books! But clearly more and more of the store’s real estate is being taken up by puzzles and stuffed toys. And honestly, I’m part of the problem. I love my Kindle. More often than not I opt for the download option, rather than the drive to the bookstore. Ultimately, I think Tyler’s B&N will be around for a few more years at least. But I’m afraid it will become more and more like a large Starbucks / study hall, than the great old bookstore I remember.

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