Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2017 Issue

Dinner, Beer and Wine at a Bookstore? Welcome to Barnes & Noble's Latest Survival Plan

F5bdb291-bc67-461c-82d9-7209c2c31ae2

A new Barnes & Noble restaurant (from their website).

Would you like plancha-cooked salmon with whole grain tabbouleh salad & basil dressing with your books? And some Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne from Reims, France, seems like an appropriate selection from the wine list for salmon. Barnes & Noble has been chasing internet behemoth Amazon for quite awhile now without much success. Now, Amazon has started opening bookstores to complement their online business. Unlike Barnes & Noble, they are smaller, basic stores, offering just books and electronic accompaniments. They don't offer reading rooms, comfortable sofas, pastry and coffee as B&N has for years. Struggling to differentiate itself in a positive way, B&N is testing out going even more upscale, with $23 salmon and $68 per bottle champagne offered in its bookstores. As Michelle Obama used to say, when they go low, we go high.

 

As they would announce during the Cold War era when interrupting our radio and TV programs with "CONELRAD" warnings of an imminent nuclear attack, "this is just a test." Four locations have been selected: Eastchester, New York (suburbs of the city), Edina, Minnesota (Minneapolis), Folsom, California (think Folsom Prison Blues, or nicer, Sacramento), and Loudoun County, Virginia (Washington). All but the Loudoun County location opened recently, with the latter coming soon.

 

The conversion isn't easy and not all B&N stores are suitable for it. The dining areas are twice the size of the spaces currently used for coffee and pastries. The store has to have enough room for it to fit. Presumably, a closed kitchen is needed rather than the open bar style serving area with which I am familiar. Some book shoppers might not appreciate the smoke or smell of sizzling salmon. The idea here is to lure in more customers, not drive them away.

 

Dinner is not the only meal served at B&N. There are sandwiches appropriate for lunch, and breakfast is served until noon. You can get a breakfast burrito for $11. That's a bit pricier than the $3.49 it will cost you for a breakfast burrito at Hardee's, but I'm going to bet it's a fair amount better. The surroundings are certainly classier, and full table service is provided. You don't have to go up to the cashier and wait for someone to call out your name when it's ready. They will bring it to you.

 

Perhaps most notable about the new B&N restaurants is that they serve alcoholic beverages. Along with the wine list, you can purchase beer. There's no Bud here, let alone Pabst. They don't even carry Sam Adams or Heineken. They are all from local breweries, with clever names like Surly Brewery, Brau Brothers, and Dogfish Head (if it were Salmon Head I'd be concerned they were making it from their left over fish parts).

 

In the 1990's, Barnes & Noble experienced great success. It's large, comfortable stores, that allowed patrons to slowly look through the selections, read some, socialize with friends, have coffee and snacks, in some locations even listen to live music, proved to be a winning combination. It was the place for book lovers to go. Remember Waldenbooks, or B. Dalton? The smaller, traditional stores were not a match for the atmosphere of a B&N.

 

However, by the turn of the century, internet giant Amazon was coming at them quickly. Lower prices were their main calling card, along with the convenience of buying at home. And, some who still liked the atmosphere of a B&N, would go there to peruse the new books, and then go home and buy them from Amazon for less. It has taken its toll over the years. Borders, with a similar model, is gone, and many have questioned the long-term viability of B&N's model. For a while, it looked like B&N would challenge Amazon in one major area of technology – e-readers. Their Nook at first made a great run at Amazon's Kindle, but it ended up becoming a money loser, something B&N could ill afford.

 

So, will this rekindle Barnes & Noble's good fortunes? It strikes me as a long shot. It almost seems as if they are doubling down on yesterday's technology. I always liked shopping malls. You could spend a relaxed afternoon or evening browsing through all kinds of stores and enjoy a meal at the food court. They drove Main Street out of business. The malls had security guards chase away young people, who they felt were in the way of shoppers with bigger wallets. I don't know if they still do this, but I doubt there's much need for the service. Young people are staying away on their own. Malls are dying. The idea of the mall as a place to shop, socialize, and have a meal has become passé. The appeal of a B&N strikes me as similar to that of a mall. I may still like them, but not many younger people do. Doubling down on a mall-type experience may not be the way to reach the younger generation. Not that I have a better plan for B&N, or that I wish them anything but well, but it just doesn't feel right. I hope I'm wrong.

 

Oh, that plancha-cooked salmon... what is it? A plancha is like a cast iron skillet, only flat and square instead of round. You place it on a barbecue so you can sear the food while still getting that barbecue flavor. Sounds good.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>The Tragedie of Julius Caesar.</i> London, 1623. 1st appearance in print, Complete from the First Folio. Sold for $175,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Zane Grey, Inscribed photograph album depicting Grey and party at Catalina, fishing, and in Arizona. $700 to $1,000
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Eric Taverner, Salmon Fishing...London: Seeley, Service & Co., 1931. $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> The Gentleman Angler. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Ken Robinson, Flyfishers' Progress. [London: The Flyfishers' Club, 2000. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> G. H. Lacy, North Punjab Fishing Club Angler's Handbook. Calcutta: Newman & Co., 1890. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> J. Harrington Keene, Fly-Fishing and Fly-Making for Trout, etc. New York, 1887. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Arthur Macrate, The History of The Tuna Club, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1948. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Joseph D. Bates Jr. Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1966. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Paul Schmookler and Ingrid V. Sils. Rare and Unusual Fly Tying Materials: A Natural History. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Herbert Hoover, Fishing For Fun - And To Wash Your Soul. New York: Random House, 1963. $400 to $600
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 372: Martin Luther King Jr. March for Freedom Now! Placard. Chicago, 1960. 28 x 22”. $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 567: Warhol, Andy. Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet, Signed on the Cover by Warhol. Tate Gallery, 1971. $700 to $900
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 72: Mitchell, Margaret. <i>Gone With the Wind.</i> New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936. First edition, first issue. $4,000 to $5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 468: Photo Archive Documenting the 1930s—50s Chicago Jazz and Night Club Scene. A significant collection. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 143: Dr. Seuss. <i>Oh Say Can You Say.</i> 1979, First Edition, Signed. $200 to $300
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 285: [Maps] Thomas G. Bradford. <i>A Comprehensive Atlas, Geographical, Historical & Commercial.</i> Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1835. First Edition. $1,600 to $1,800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 69: Herman Melville. <i>Moby Dick, or The Whale</i>. New York: Random House, 1930. First Kent Trade Edition. $400 to $600
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 295: John James Audoban. Group of 148 Lithographs from the Birds of America. Philadelphia: J.T. Bowen, ca. 1840s. $600 to $800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 54: Langston Hughes. <i>One-Way Ticket.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949. First edition. $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 7: Ray Bradbury. <i>The Martian Chronicles.</i> With a Wine Label Signed by Bradbury. Garden City: Doubleday, 1950. First edition $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 121. Frank L Baum. <i>The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.</i> Chicago: George M. Hill Co., 1899, 1900. First Edition. $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 369. [Declaration of Independence] Peter Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence. One page; 29 x 26”. From the "American Archives" 1837-1853 series of books. $15,000 to $20,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions