The first walk-in store opened in New York City in 1917. The Barnes & Noble website is owned by Barnes & Noble, Inc and they have over 800 walk-in stores which can offer “over 1 million titles” of books, music DVDs, video games, and gifts. Because of this they are widely considered “the largest book retailer” in the United States. In 1997 the website went live helping to increase their customer base to those who would have normally been out of reach. There’s really so much that the Barnes and Noble’s website has to offer that this short article can not possibly cover them all. Here are the highlights.
The basic browsing headings include books, DVDs, music, textbooks, magazines, B&N Jr. (kids books), toys and games, home and gift, and see all. The book area can be searched with the book browser by title, author, or keyword or via further categories for bestsellers, new releases, coming soon, recommended, audio books, children’s books, used and out of print, bargain books. The browse books features divides the books into literary categories which are further divided into genre. This system is actually a lot easier than it sounds and I found I was able to whip into each area with no problem.
Barnes and Noble has a membership for loyal regular visitors to their stores and sites (Canada has a similar concept in their large Chapters stores – one of the things that annoy me). The membership card entitles bearers to 40% off hardcover list prices, 20% off adult hardcover list prices, and 10 % off almost everything else. If you sign up to their email notices you can also learn about weekly specials that could offer 30-40% savings. The B&N membership costs $25 a year and requires you to give your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address. You can of course still order books and take advantage of the site’s wish lists system without a membership. Each book shows a price comparison of list price, online price and member price.
In the United States, readers can get “fast & free delivery” when they order a minimum of $25. Barnes & Noble ships to Canada and internationally at reasonable rates. They accept payment from traditional credit cards, the B&N card/gift certificate and from PayPal.
If you are feeling interactive, there are online book clubs for every genre and category of books which readers correspond through Barnes & Noble’s a forum system. Readers can join to post messages on any of the threads and have conversations with other interested readers about their favourite (or not so favorite) books. Each forum environment is moderated by a highly motivated person with a love for the topic.
One of the best features of the Barnes & Noble website doesn’t cost anything at all. There’s an online studio and magazine where readers can watch and listen to exclusive interviews with popular authors, read biographies, and witness performances. And if you are more traditional there are lots of print reviews in magazine format.
One of my favourite aspects of the site is the wish list. It allows readers to add products they might want to purchase at a later date (with no obligation to buy). It’s a handy memory tool for shopping for others too. More than one wish list can be created so if you hear about a book a loved one would like you can save it to a list to refer to when special occasions arise. Kind of takes the worry out of last minute shopping.