KAI RYSSDAL: Cutting prices can be a great way to build business. But Barnes and Noble learned today there can be too much of a good thing. The bookseller announced profits this year will fall well below what everybody had been guessing, in part because its discount programs are attracting too many customers. Forty percent off hard-covers adds up to a lot of money not made.
Commentator Moira Manion says prices aren’t the only factor when it comes to selling books.
MOIRA MANION:The Borders bookstore on Block E in downtown Minneapolis says it’s looking for someone to take its lease, claiming a “lack of foot traffic.”
I was part of that store’s original staff back in August of 2002. We were excited about the new store, in which we naively assumed we’d have input.
Before the store opened to the public, other employees and I familiar with that part of downtown asked the management when we would get a security guard and security mirrors.
Management said they were unnecessary, and brushed us off when we insisted they were.
As soon Block E Borders opened, it was infested. Homeless men slept and urinated in the chairs. Gangs listened to rap on headphones, often singing the obscene lyrics out loud. Prostitutes and drug dealers did business in our restrooms. Theft was rampant.
My supervisor and I met with our manager and an HR person from Ann Arbor. We said that employees and customers felt unsafe. If we didn’t act soon, the Barnes and Noble two blocks away — which had a security guard and security mirrors — would get all our business.
The HR person said, “We’ll certainly give this consideration.” Nothing changed. Within 10 months, all but a few of the original, talented, intelligent staff quit.
Why didn’t management listen to its employees? Because wage slaves are to be seen and not heard. The cogs should never tell the machine how to operate.
Now Block E Borders will shut its doors, while the nearby Barnes and Noble thrives. I know, because that’s where I shop.
RYSSDAL: Moira Manion lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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