Home > real estate, retail > Brick and Mortar Memories

Brick and Mortar Memories

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


Before the internet, I used to do most of my browsing in the aisles of great bookstores like our neighborhood Barnes & Noble on Austin St.

More recently, that activity has been replaced by browsing of the digital kind, for instance on my Kindle.

But now comes word that the enormous Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Square in Manhattan is closing and will become a Century 21 store. A Century 21 store???!

I have so many wonderful memories of that gigantic bookstore, pretty much from the time it opened. I remember how excited I was every time I went there. It was a great place to just while away a lazy afternoon, cracking open one book after another, never knowing what I would discover next.

Now that will be replaced by bargain clothing. How exciting.

I am all for progress. And I absolutely love my Kindle. I end pretty much every day clicking away on the thing. But I will definitely miss that wonderful Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Square. And I truly hope our store here on Austin isn’t next.

I remember when I discovered last year that suddenly all the Virgin Megastores in the City had closed. That was bad, but it was more like an incovenience level-bad, an annoyance.

Ever since I was a teenager and had a few hours to spare, I’d jump in the car and head on over to my nearest bookstore, usually a B&N and, oftentimes a steaming Starbucks in hand, meander through the aisles.

I haven’t done it in a while actually, since, like I said, I can now carry my bookstore with me wherever I go thanks to my Kindle. But just knowing that I soon might never be able to do it ever again, makes me want to more than ever.

  1. Susan
    September 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    I’m saddened to hear that they’re closing that B&N. I used to work across the street and would attend as many of the speaking engagements they would have when guest chef’s were involved (met Thomas Keller and Lidia Bastianich to name two).

    With all the benefits we gain through technology, once again this is a clear instance of how something that expands our universe can at the same time, shrink it.

  2. Crossing Queens Blvd
    September 2, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    I wonder if the closing of this store has anything to do with the fact that Barnes & Noble is in the process of trying to sell itself. I’m sure the rent is astronomical, but wonder if they are trying to shed some high-rent location to make the Company more appealing to potential buyers. They’ve already closed the Astor Place and Chelsea locations a few years back.

    I would think that smaller locations are probably safe. Although landlords on Austin St. are known to demand high rents, retailers aren’t moving to Austin St. as quickly as they are to one of the most visible corners of Manhattan.

  3. Kevin
    September 2, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    The closing of the B&N on the UWS does not surprise me at all. B&N has suffered from bad business decisions since the late 90’s when it first attempted to compete with online retailers. How ironic, the retail giant whose business plan was based on best sellers and putting small retailers out of business now lacks a niche it could call its own.

    My initial experience with Barnes & Noble was at the flagship store on lower 5th ave. in the early 70’s. A semesters worth of books could cost $100 new; B&N was one of the first companies to sell used college textbooks. Since my on campus bookstore only sold new books, it was cheaper for a group to go by car to NYC and get the same books used for $60 to $70.

    My first job was at a bank on 5th ave. in NYC & for about 5 years we went to every reading/signing at B&N and across the street at Charlie Schribner’s for anyone famous (yes, we always bought the book & kept the cash register receipt.)

    Over the last 10 years my experience at B&N was based on using gift cards that I received as gifts. If I wanted a book, this is the last place I would go. Since their market strategy was to encourage squatters, there was no one available to provide service to those looking to spend. Amazon always has what I wanted and there was always some deal for avoiding postage. I would love to get a Kindle; but I am not excited about the choices of newspapers & magazines. The expanded magazine format and interactive capabilities of the iPad leaves me torn between my loyalties. But the fact remains, paper books are a thing of the past. As we lament; what is the over/under on the passing of paper currency and checks; five years?????

  4. September 2, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Interesting comments… I do highly recommend the Kindle by the way. It’s very comfortable to hold, very easy to read, doesn’t make a sound, and it runs on one charge for a very long time if you don’t leave the 3G connection on. It’s just a simple device that does what it does really well. It’s nothing flashy, in fact, quite the opposite – I would describe it as gentle.

    When you turn it on you sometimes get little surprises too, like they might have new word games to download for free, things like that.

    Also, I like just spending time browsing through the different categories in the store – which is all available on the kindle – to find books I didn’t know about. Last count, it has 689,449 books to choose from. And, they let you download a free sample of each book. I spend a lot of time just downloading the samples and reading those alone.

    When I first bought it I had my doubts – could I get used to reading a book on this thing? I absolutely have. I don’t miss paper books at all really. They’re nice to have and nice to look at and put on your shelf, but it’s amazing how after a lifetime of using them you can get used to reading a book on a good e-reader in digital form.

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