Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Troubles of Barnes and Noble

NPR has an interesting program on Morning Edition here about the difficulty Barnes and Noble is experiencing.  Their Nook has been especially disappointing.  My comment:

As a high school English teacher for 35 years, my main concern is always what kind of setup will make it easiest for kids to get books. 

The B&N bookstores are wonderful, but expensive for the average family.  Avid readers develop by reading book after book after book.  My avid-reading students (and these are the kids who go on to the top colleges) report reading three or four books a week, especially in elementary school.  They like series books, and will read through a thirty book series in a matter of months.

They used to have more luck getting these series books in a library, but libraries have been underfunded for so long that that’s not usually possible anymore. 

For me, the knight in white armor has been Amazon.  Once a kid has an e-reader, there are literally thousands of free and very low cost books on Amazon.  There are all kinds of series that are self-published, and sell for a dollar or two a book.  When most kids have gotten access to an e-reader and an Amazon account, they will be self-sufficient about getting books, no longer having to talk someone into driving them to a bookstore, and then paying six or seven dollars for a slim little paperback.   It might be the end of the stagnant reading scores.

What I’d like to see B&N do is open up a used book section for children’s series books.  This would get kids back into bookstores, and make the development of avid readers much more affordable for the average family.

1 comment:

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