Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2007 Issue

The Barnes & Noble Bookseller Beta Program

Barnoble

bn.com is Barnes and Noble's online site


By Carl Burnham

The new Barnes & Noble beta program for booksellers holds great promise. Since its introduction last year, there have been a few dozen booksellers invited to participate in the online program.

From beginnings as a home based business in 1873 established by Charles M. Barnes, his son William would later partner with G. Clifford Noble to form Barnes & Noble. In 1917, William went to New York to join Noble. The first store, opened in New York City, continues to operate today. Since selling books online in 1997, the company touts itself as being the Internet's largest bookstore.

Recently, I had the opportunity of talking with Michael Curro who serves as Director for Used and Out of Print Books for Barnes & Noble, about their beta program.

How many booksellers are participating in the Barnes and Noble beta program?
"We've only had a few dozen sellers participating in the Beta of our program.  We kept the number small so we could keep a close eye on how each seller was using our system and respond to any issues they encountered. The sellers who took part were enormously helpful and provided a lot of very valuable feedback on what we were doing right and what needed more work for which we are very appreciative."

What have been some improvements or modifications made as a result of the beta program?
"The main focus of the Beta was to test various operational assumptions regarding how sellers submit data and how we should process it. As a result of the Beta, we have made some modifications." A Customer Feedback system has now been launched.

Will booksellers have the ability to direct link to their books on B&N to show their site dynamically via web services or other methods?
"Sellers can easily direct link to their products on Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com) using the Listing Number we provide.  While we have deployed web services to enable sellers to manage their inventory and orders, we haven't yet expanded our use of web services to enable linking outside of Barnes & Noble.com."

Will booksellers be able to offer special incentive discounts for their customers to order their books through B&N?
"We are actively considering several different types of discounts/promotions that we can work with sellers on."

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