Barnes & Noble Adds Beer to the Shelves

Barnes & Noble adds beer to the shelves

When big box bookstores were all the rage, not that long ago, really, shoppers were invited to pop in for a coffee or latte to drink as they perused their purchase. Those days aren’t completely gone, but most folks who want to browse before they buy are heading to the library or just using the “look inside” feature on Amazon.

B&N in Need of More Customers

The biggest bookstore chain still viable needed a way to bring more customers into the store. Someone finally suggested the obvious. Bring in that good ol’ book group staple. No, not chocolate or popcorn. We’re talking about booze. Not hard liquor, mind you, just beer and wine. Now, instead of getting all caffeinated, readers can chill with their favorite “adult” beverage. At least, that’s the idea being tried in four pilot locations— Eastchester, NY; Edina, MN; Folsom, CA, and Loudon, VA.

Positive Effect on Stock After Beer Announcement

Predictably, B&N stock rose – 8 percent at last look – after the news was announced. The move was praised by readers and market watchers. There’s no doubt bookstores must do something to compete with Amazon. Especially since the online powerhouse just started opening brick and mortar stores. This idea might seem out of the box to some, but in many ways, it’s signaling a strong understanding of both the current and potential market.

The hottest selling fiction these days includes YA fiction like the Harry Potter and Twilight series. More publishers are churning out more work, targeted specifically at Millennials. You know what else Millennials are drinking by the flagon and gallon? Beer and wine. From craft to PBR, the M generation loves their beer. And wine sales are up with this cohort on a massive scale. When your “add-on” products pair well with something else your target market loves, you set yourself up for a win, and you create fans from customers who feel understood.

Women of all ages make up most readers as well. From paperback beach reads to book survey groups, wine is a consistent addition. So why not pick up a bottle when you grab your next book group selection?

Opportunity to Move Away from Failing Nook eReader

Another plus here is the ability for B&N to rebrand away from its failing Nook eReader. Customers simply don’t want it. They really never did, even in the brief heyday of eReaders. By understanding the market and giving customers what they really want, B&N will be able to repair some profit leaks and shore up its ship for a future that definitely still includes both books and alcohol to drink while you read.

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