elizabethmccoy: A black-haired woman's face. She's glaring. (Kessa)
[personal profile] elizabethmccoy
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/03/2013/books-arent-dead-yet/ asks if one would rather own KDP or B&N. I said...

If I were to own one of them, I'd like to RULE B&N WITH AN IRON FIST, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *cough* A little autocracy and vision might yet save it. Or at least let it go out with an impressive bang. (Get the impression I'm not impressed with some of B&N's choices, especially in the online realm? Yeah. I love the local-ish one, but I've never had very good experiences with the online store or their customer support. I hope other people do better there, because I do get sales from B&N and certainly would never harsh on readers... But I don't think B&N is doing as much as it can.)

Things I'd do with B&N:

• Hire programmers with skill and humility, who want to Solve Problems YAY.

• Instruct customer support to NEVER EVER imply that the customer is at fault for having antique hardware/software, unless they're like on a 300 baud modem and trying to side-load onto a Newton. In which case, "I'm sorry, but I don't think we have anyone who knows how to program for the Newton!" is okay. In all other cases, take down the details of the bug, ask for a contact address for reproducing it if need be, and forward the details to the programmers.

• Make sure that customer support knows that they are there to make the customer as happy as possible. This doesn't mean they always get to give the customer what the customer wants, but they should do their best to make the customer happy with what they get -- if nothing else, sympathize and promise to pass on the customer's concerns.

• Pass on the customer's concerns, unless it's about Aliens Infiltrating Their Nook. (Though if the customer has an ingenious solution to this... >_> )

• Set up very prominent "here's your local B&N and its stock; order online and have it bundled and waiting for you at the desk (pay here or there)" links. Do add a field of "Allow [X time] for bundling" during holidays; for holidays, add "we will call you when your order is ready for pickup."

• Set up so that you can order from the main site and have it shipped to a local B&N, for no-shipping. Make this very obvious, and promote it as a way to keep the delivery people (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) from shoving your order in the letterbox, leaving it in a puddle, keeping it for themselves, hiding it in the bushes, etc. (This sort of thing gets people in the stores, after all, where they may make impulse purchases, DUH.)

• Set up the B&N discount card to be family-wide online as well -- since I can go into the store and reel off my home phone number and my spouse's name and get his discount. There should be an ability to add in separate accounts as "part of the discount-card family." Set a limit of 5 if necessary, but increase the yearly fee incrementally so you can add more.

• Figure out what's needed to allow B&N stores to become "affiliate" franchises, in areas which are not well-served by indie bookstores.

• Make the B&N cafes stock decent chai and not that watered down Starbucks stuff. Bleah.

• Give even non-franchise managers more leeway in ordering, based on how well they're doing, profit-wise.

• Disconnect DRM from people's credit cards. It's a PITA. Promote watermarking instead; it's less of a PITA, and probably just as good for discouraging petty pirates.

• Start a "resell your ebook" program with those good and humble problem-solving programmers. Give a cut to author/publisher, a cut to B&N, and the seller keeps the rest; the book is removed from the seller's "I bought this" list, the watermarks are changed, and new watermarks are applied. If the prior watermarked files get uncovered in the future, you can smack the seller. (Yeah, real pirates will peel the watermarkings off. They'd also peel the DRM off.)

• Add a "resell your physbook through us" section. There should be some way to manage that without treading on an Amazon patent.

• Take PayPal. For that matter, see how many other similar services one can take.

• Cut a deal with Apple; bite the bullet and make in-app purchasing available through the Nook app.

• Jack up the Nook app and shove Stanza under it, with upgrades. Boast about how you're a better app for heavy readers than the Kindle (or iBookstore), 'cause you've got real "sort by Author" implemented, along with being able to "sort by shelf," add tags (and sort by them), etc.

• Sell .mobi files as well as epub. If Smashwords can do it, so can B&N. Now the Kindle-owners have no reason not to shop at your store as well. Provide excellent "here's how to side-load to your Kindle!" instructions.

• Bundle Nooks with discount-cards, not each other.

• Clone the manager of my local B&N, who is apparently doing something right.

• Clean up the Reviews sections of everything. If you can't hack policing the reviews yourself, cut a deal with Goodreads like Kobo does. [Yes, even if Amazon owns them. If Amazon refuses to cut a deal, consider talking to the DoJ. :p ] Regardless, move all the Warrior Cats roleplay to a separate page and pat them on the head.

• Stop requiring login to report a Warrior Cats Roleplay "review," when writing a review doesn't require anything.

• Implement a "buy the physbook, get the ebook at a slight discount" (or vice versa). Yeah, you'll get people buying the physbook for their mom and the ebook for themselves, but is this a problem?

• Periodically run promotions where people can get a bargain on the ebook of any physbook they've bought from you in the past. Or maybe vice versa -- free shipping or something.

• Agency pricing for publishers is not okay for ebooks right now. Get out the thumbscrews and get a major discount on the ebooks, so B&N can offer those "buy one of each kind" discounts. You're saving them from Evil Amazon, remember? Look, you're inspiring people to buy the same book twice. You're awesome. They should love you.

• Make the Programmers work on the website recommendation algorithms. Expand the Also Boughts for all books; yeah, not everyone will click more than 2-4 screens. But does it really hurt you if you have 6-10 total? No, and someone might buy from those further screens.

• Make it easy for people to reveal their wish-list to others. Around Xmas, run "spread the joy" promotions so RANDOM PEOPLE can buy wish-listed books for RANDOM PEOPLE! Secret Santa to the max! Then make it easy for the recipients to reciprocate with a Thank You card and/or a return-purchase of something on the sender's wish-list. (One can even totally randomize the stuff: "Your Random Recipient has wish-listed books currently worth $X, $Y, and $Z.99; what would you wish to purchase?" // "Your Secret Santa has wish-list items costing $X, $Y, and $Z; would you like to purchase something for them?"

I'm sure I could come up with more -- I heard some horror stories recently about gift cards and the B&N online store, for instance -- but that's just for starters...

Now, someone give me command of the B&N stuff, and a copper parachute, and I'll get to it... >:)

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