The Barnes & Noble at 8th Street and 6th Avenue is Closed

Not a good sign of the books-times. I worked here years ago, although it was a terrible experience. At the time the place was being run by this truly unpleasant, humorless person. It always felt to me like she was playing the part of a being a manager, from something she’d observed in a business school class perhaps, but she had no real talent for it. She’d assume this go-get-’em attitude except she was not encouraging or inspiring, she was petty and punishing, making otherwise passionate, engaged employees the least productive group I’ve ever seen.

All day long she’d have us move whole sections of books to one floor or another, or to one side of the room or another, always thinking she’d find the perfect arrangement, the one layout that would magically increase sales, and unfortunately this was the only play she had. She had no other ideas and did not welcome any of ours. The whole time I worked there I moved books up and down stairs and across the floor. Over and over and over. I wonder if customers picked up on the vibe-of-misery whenever they shopped there?

This is not a comment on Barnes & Noble, by the way. It was one brief period in one store which I am very sad to see go. Ha! You can see me taking the shot. I don’t always to remember to make sure I’m not in the reflection.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

10 thoughts on “The Barnes & Noble at 8th Street and 6th Avenue is Closed

  1. I hate to see this kind of stuff. People keep saying that the book (as we know it) is dying.
    I just don’t want to think that this could be true. I know that the e-readers are more than a fad but for companies to stop printing books, no way! We will not go down w/o a fight!

  2. Change is continuous…and not always for the best.
    Stacy, I stumbled on this and thought it was so funny. It’s an Art app for an Ipad. A mouse scurries on and off the screen and cats can’t resist slapping at it and it results in a paint splatter… stupid I know but I had to get it and give my guys the opportunity to express their artistic talents. It is called ‘Art for Cats'($1.99). And a happy new year to you! Sorry,contact link didn’t work for me

  3. Hi Stacy,
    I’m sorry to hear about Barnes and Noble closing.

    We went through a similar loss when Borders closed in Dallas. Actually, we lived about a mile from the residence of George and Laura Bush. And the Borders near us was frequented by them, they had their autograph parties at that location, and Dick Cheney and other notables would go to that Borders to kick off their books.

    (I appreciate your feelings about Bush, but you will understand that it is not a sentiment shared by Republicans.)

    The shutdown was a particular disappointment, because for a time Borders had an impressive depth of stock in many subjects, fiction and non-fiction.

    For example, one of my sidelines is an appreciation for the psycholgy of Carl Jung. Borders not only kept his collected works in stock, but also books about Jung’s psychology you would not expect to find in a major chain bookstore.

    My own speculation about Barnes and Noble runs along these lines: we have 7.8% unemployment; unemployment is expected to rise; a number of people who are employed look at the precarious employment situation and decide to save their discretionary income rather than spend it and make themselves more vulnerable.

    I don’t think the new electronic book readers are an issue, because the Nook is a fine product. Barnes and Noble outperformed Borders in this respect, because Borders was slow to get in the electronic reader business, and that was one reason they closed.

    Also, all of these tax hikes shrink not only purchasing power for discretionary items, but keep the affluent from putting their money into the stock market and into start-up business, further depressing economic activity.

    And, of course, unless it’s a college textbook or something similar, book buying will be more immediately hit. I’m just hoping that this closing in New York does not signal more closings in the Barnes and Noble chain.

  4. People read less. We’ve been heading this way for a long time. I should say, people read books less, because I think there’s an awful lot of reading of other forms taking place online. I read books less (and I got tons of them for free!)!

    Change is painful. But who knows how it will all shake out and what will take its place. Maybe things that are even better.

    Also, I want a Kindle. Or a Nook. Oh and I don’t have an ipad Richard, but maybe someday and I will look for that app!

  5. Hi Stacy,
    Don’t think for a moment that I disapprove of electronic readers.

    About 3 years ago I got drug kicking and screaming into the Kindle, and I must say I am highly satisfied with it. In fact, just last night I downloaded The Magos by John Fowles (one of my 20 favorite novels) for less than $2.00. I also downloaded a book by Susan Johnston called W. B Yeats, 20th Century Magus which is an interesting study of Yeats’s esoteric practices. You know, most of the studies of Yeats only talk about his esoteric studies peripherally, and so this will be an opportunity to understand them at a greater depth.

    The Kindle has also allowed me to shrink the number of bookcases that I have as a bibliophile. So I am no means unmindful of the possibilities represented by a new approach to reading.

    Still, when such things actually start putting really good bookstores out of business…

  6. After my career as a longtime designer/graphic artist/photographer tanked in the early 90s, I saw a help wanted advert sign in a small local Crown Books window for an “associate position” and impulsively walked in and applied. Although I’d never worked in a retail environment and knew nothing about the mechanics of those pesky cash registers, as an avid reader, somehow I was hired on the spot. Within two weeks of my employment, i was transferred to their “super store” location, promoted and enjoyed several wonderful years with the books and their avid customers/followers until Crown Books went bankrupt and disappeared. I have a Kindle, and it’s a poor substitute for the bookstore browsing experience for me. While I could never be without the immediate connection to information that computers and their offshoots provide, there’s something about books (printed, on paper, within covers) that are sacrosanct.

  7. Greg, I didn’t think you were anti-electronic readers!! And I agree there is something about books and I hope they never go away.

    But I think there’s lots of possibilities for electronic readers and we haven’t seen even the tiniest glimpse of what is to come. I got my own first taste of the possibilities by that Snowfall article in the New York Times I raved about. Mavis that piece was the most EXCELLENT combination of great writing and stunning stunning stunning graphics. If you haven’t looked at it already you really should!!

  8. Stacy…I totally agree with you on that NYT piece about the avalanche. I viewed it right after your recommendation here a few weeks ago.

  9. The nostalgia junkie in me just kicked in from this post. It was B.Dalton when I lived in NYC (1982-94), and given its proximity to NYU (where I went to law school and later returned for a few years as an instructor), I was there often. It wasn’t the best bookstore around, but it was awfully convenient and had enough variety to keep me occupied for some time. I’m sure I was in there at least a couple of hundred times when I lived there.

    Sorry to hear about your bad work experience back in the day. I study and write about bad, incompetent, and/or bullying managers, and she sounds like a combination of those qualities.

  10. Totally! And when I worked there it was a B. Dalton (which was owned by Barnes & Noble, apparently).

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