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Seriously...It Will Do You Some Good!

Well, it seems that this is the end of BNLJ - now little more than a ghost of a room.  We went from a silly, innocent, and admittedly boring place to post bookstore stories to a hateful bitch-fest that had nothing positive to say about anything - especially the company that cut our paychecks.  Many of you cursed my presence/participation - but you failed to acknowlege that I've been here from early on, posting topics that really meant a damn - and encouraging responses from booksellers with a work ethic.  If you've followed "Smithback" posts, you'll remember that my very first topics appeared in the last two years of the Borders forum.  They were funny pieces, meant to acknowledge/ressure those Borders booksellers who fought the good fight til the end.  My BN in particular delivered coffee & donuts to our fellow Borders on its last day.  It was sad for them and sad for us.  We all knew that bookstores were in trouble.

BNLJ went through many different changes through the years.  At first we were a mix of happy booksellers and anti-corporate folk, but over time the happy ones joined the FaceBook page - leaving the ignorant masses to take over BNLJ.  The result was what you can see right now: so much complaining that readers bailed faster than viewers as MSNBC.  This past year in particular - a year plagued by such gut-wrenchingly-immature posts as "Worries," "Dress Code," "Cafe Woes," and "Have You Read the Privacy Policy" - have succeded in slamming BNLJ into the ground, like an episode of National Geographic's Air Crash Investigation.  I guess it's kind of like how MySpace was overcome by FaceBook: the better forum crushed the lesser one.  It all comes down to quality, people...and how what we wrote was a reflection of our characters.  No employer wants to hire/keep an employee who unloads LJ tyrades without thinking.  I hope you've all learned your lesson, and that you're now enjoying new jobs in gas stations that smell like hot dogs, cigarettes, and AXE.  Not the life I'd want for myself, but hey...I'm just Smithback - the apple-polisher.  I'm just an out of touch, middle-aged man who loves BN - and who's planned for his future.  Enjoy your parent's basements.  I, myself, have built a nice blaze in my fireplace...where - thanks to my experience at BN - my third novel will soon be added to the wooden mantle.

Anyway, it's cold outside - and I want to have a glass of wine before bed, before I get up for tomorrow's Discovery Friday shift.  I wish you all the best, and I'll send happy thoughts to each and every one of you - all three remaining - while I'm at work tomorrow.  If you do join another BN forum, I encourage you to remember all the things I've said to you over the last few years.  Be strong, people!  Be mature and productive contributers to whatever job you end up working.

And like they said before the Borders blog folded, always remember just what happened here.

Seriously...it will do you some good :)


( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 21st, 2014 05:15 am (UTC)
I pretty much just fell silent. I got tired of being harassed for always being positive and happy about my job with B&N. Some people decided that sending me a hate-filled private message was appropriate.

Yeah, some things frustrate me to no end...like where I'm going to put the fifty million copies of James Dashner they decided to ship to my store this year when it's only called for on one shelftalker...

But, I've been with B&N for just over 8 years now, and spend 4.5 years previous to that at Books-A-Million. Aside from those certain customers that make you want to pull your hair out, and one or two managers that I just could not get along with no matter how hard I tried, I've loved my job. I love reading, I love writing, and I love putting a book in a customers hand and seeing their eyes light up.

Of course, I especially love the little girl who had her love of Minecraft completely validated when I told her that I play it too.
Jan. 19th, 2015 03:26 pm (UTC)
this is a test
Nov. 21st, 2014 12:12 pm (UTC)
I was one of the predominantly positive ones, too (read back) but I really think this is more an LJ thing. Despite the fact people did get more negative towards the end (and I think that has more to do with the anon option than the format) I know of many overwhelmingly positive and hopeful communities that died as well. There's a parallel with B&N
, though--despite missing the boat on a few things, LJ still does a lot very well, and I strongly believe it is the best platform for certain kinds of uses, but too many people bailed or just grew out of it all, period.
Nov. 21st, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
I thought you were dead! Oh well. You know it's still not too late.

I'd even send you the bullet to put through your peanut of a brain.

By the way, you are really a fucking asshole!
Nov. 22nd, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
Re: Smithback
Have fun asking, "Would you like fries with that?!"
Re: Smithback - (Anonymous) - Nov. 23rd, 2014 02:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 22nd, 2014 03:51 am (UTC)
Lets see, after leaving Barnes and Noble, Im making more money in 2yrs then I was making after working 4.5years at BN. Im not being put down and belittled by management and my benefits are fucking phenomenal.

In the words of Loki "Where is my disadvantage?"
Nov. 22nd, 2014 04:44 am (UTC)
Bully to you!
Nov. 23rd, 2014 04:41 am (UTC)
I go through phases of love and hate with B&N. I've been there just short of a decade. The quality of my experience usually depends on who is in charge at the time. We've been through 5+ SMs in my time there. When leadership is strong, I am happy. I'm human, I like to hear praise for a job well done. I've come to expect that I'm only getting a quarter raise every year, but at least let me know that you appreciate the hard work that my coworkers and I do. I want to see management model the behaviors they expect out of us, also. This is all just management 101. People need an incentive to exceed expectations, otherwise they're just going through the motions to get a paycheck.

We have an excellent store manager now. He has our backs and lets us know we are appreciated. I'm the happiest at my job now than I have been in many years. Finally, I love bookselling again (wasn't sure that was possible during the low points).

I get where you're coming from, Smithback. I'm not quite as gung ho about corporate decisions as you seem to be, but I don't think the company is evil and I do think it has the potential to be a great place to work. That being said, I totally empathize with the miserable people on here, too. There were times when I hated going to work everyday. We had terrible management for a handful of years and it was awful. I thought trained monkeys could probably do a better job. Understand that the difference store to store can be quite dramatic. Just because you work in a fabulous store, district or region does not mean that others share your experience.

One last thing: I was banned from the Facebook group for posting what I believed to be a thoughtful, non-threatening comment in support of Amazon. I don't think it should be required that just because you work at B&N, you should loathe Amazon. You can cry about their sweeping influence over brick and mortar retail, but that's just a sign of the times. Amazon is capitalism on crack. I only wish there was a place where a whole spectrum of opinion was welcome and appreciated. FB & LJ certainly do not meet that criteria.
Nov. 26th, 2014 07:16 am (UTC)
I've tried to have a positive outlook regarding the company, but this past year has been very difficult. After a decade with the same SM, who worked us hard but respected us and treated us like human beings, this person was replaced with a robot, a bean-counter, someone who treats the staff like numbers on a spreadsheet. And guess what? Half the staff, including our CRM, MM, receiving manager, and a slew of experienced booksellers quit. Those who are still here from the "old regime" feel demoralized and disgruntled, because we know what it was like to work for someone who had your back. Not only has this new SM alienated the staff, but also our customers — placing lock plates on the outlets, doing away with events that don't come from the home office or Author Promotions, not wanting to go the extra mile with schools as they have their bookfairs. In a year, we've gone from a store that had great relationships with the community and local authors to one that seems to want nothing to do with it, as though we can somehow make sales plan in a vacuum.

Apart from the usual feeling of 'Brace yourself, it's the holidays...', this is the first Christmas season I'm actually dreading, because it's a bunch of clowns in paper trainee hats. So I'm glad everything is all unicorn farts and happy puppies in your neck of the woods, Smithback, I really am. Value that. Treasure that, because one single management change can put your store on its ass.

And then there's the schizophrenic company we work for... are we getting rid of the movies & music, or are we going to stock vinyl all the time now? Are books really the gift that lasts a lifetime (to quote our great new holiday ad), or are we trying to sell you gifty shit like homebrew kits and popcorn poppers and Buddha boards? I appreciate that it's a difficult selling environment out there, but it seems like they're just throwing stuff up to see what sticks, and after Christmas, will we be left with anything but a shit-covered wall?

So I'm getting out. I've given over a decade of my life to this company, and I increasingly dislike what it's become. Yes, there has always been a bottom line. Every business has one. But this used to be a company that cared about its community and about its booksellers. I prefer to leave while I can still remember it that way.
Nov. 26th, 2014 07:20 am (UTC)
Fuck off, Smithback, you sanctimonious, ass-kissing, corporate shill. You are the textbook definition of a cunt.
Nov. 28th, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
Hey Smithback, let it go...
SmithBack, do all of us a favor and stop initiating new threads. This thing would die if you would just leave it alone. I have been trying to kill it with my responses for 3 years. It's on frickin life support thanks to you. You just keep bring up "nothing" topics and dragging this crap out. Let it die dude!
Nov. 29th, 2014 12:54 am (UTC)
Re: Hey Smithback, let it go...
go fuck yourself
Nov. 29th, 2014 03:49 am (UTC)
I also belong to that ever shrinking group of positive employees. As a once full time and now part time employee I am part of a great core of dedicated workers, folks I enjoy working with. Only a few years away from collecting my social security, my part time hours will fit in very nicely with my long term retirement plans. Having said that, it is my sincere hope that B&N figures it out, and by that I simple mean making a profit. One only has to look at the last few Annual report to share holders to see that at some point, continuing to tweak an aging 20th century business model has limits. Of real concern, reducing employee benefits to increase profits. There is a very good article in the current Harvard Business Review about the life cycle of a business function. I'll pick just one of B&N's functions, marketing. How much product can you merchandise before you are no longer adding value to your product, only cost? Books that move from the receiving carts to optimizing, to shelf talkers, to mission tables, to end caps, over stock, and so on, only to end up on the return shelf. I have been with the company 15 years. It still takes them "about a week" to get ordered product into their stores. I can not help but feel that B&N could have done a much better job of integrating the order process with stores and B&N online to provide customers with a better ordering experience. This is only my opinion but I feel loss prevention efforts have done little more then complicate what is quickly becoming an inefficient system. The Barnes and Nobel membership thing needs to be re-thought. I currently work in receiving. If a company was ever in need of someone who has inventory control experience it is Barnes & Nobel. As an example, show me a store that doesn't have bargain stuffed anywhere and everywhere. If Barnes & Nobel wants to be in the book selling business, a worthy goal should be to change the leading paragraph in the Annual Report from largest book seller to "The BEST."
Nov. 29th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
Problem is the same dumbass executives that drove the company into the ground are still in control. Until there are changes at the top, don't expect anything to change.
Zzzzzzzz - (Anonymous) - Nov. 30th, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Nov. 30th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Dec. 5th, 2014 03:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Dec. 1st, 2014 06:01 am (UTC) - Expand
yes - (Anonymous) - Dec. 1st, 2014 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 20th, 2014 06:22 am (UTC)
Having a positive attitude at a negative company won't make you a winner.
No benefits, low pay, horrible management. Having a positive attitude won't make you a winner.

One day all of you will be let go.
You win by expecting more from yourself not hanging on to a dead opportunity.
Dec. 20th, 2014 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Having a positive attitude
NEWS FLASH. ------- It's a prt time job dude.... Not your life. Damn, get back on your meds.
Dec. 20th, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
1. Where I live those “jobs in gas stations that smell like hot dogs, cigarettes, and AXE” pay more than B&N, provide more hours, and have better benefits. So anyone who’s working for a living departed B&N for those jobs long ago. What’s left at B&N are semi-retired old people working get-out-of-the-house jobs and kids living at home with room, board, medical, and cable from their parents.

2. B&N’s become nothing more than another part-time low paying retail job for the vast majority of its employees. If you like books and would rather stock bookshelves and work a register ringing out books (along with the dozen or so questions you have to annoy each and every customer with), fine. If you’d rather make people happy by making them good subs to feed their hunger, fine. Hard to find either of those a better option. Except the sub shop probably gives more hours, higher pay, and more responsive and attentive management than B&N these days.

3. As an out-of-touch middle-aged man I do hope you’ve made retirement plans that don’t depend on receiving anything from B&N. And a word of advice from what I’ve seen--Social Security alone doesn’t go very far. Might want to start laying in a good wood pile for the winter when it gets cold and you can’t afford to pay for heating your home.
Dec. 30th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
Fire all top management.
Attention Barnes & Noble Shareholders:

Let's fire all top management and District managers and start over with a clean slate.


Get rid of the most expensive & useless employees first so we can save this company.  No golden parachutes for overpaid employees.
Dec. 30th, 2014 05:45 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2014 06:25 am (UTC)
Smithback, you really do need to get over yourself.
Jan. 3rd, 2015 09:20 pm (UTC)
I hope everyone survived this holiday season. I am so glad it is finally over. I'm happy to say this was my last holiday with B&N! My store cut coverage through the whole season. Every day was miserable for those that actually got shifts. I called in sick one day in the week before Christmas simply because I couldn't face all the pissed off customers. I swear we lost thousands in sales because customers got too pissed off with the lines at info and the registers.

The final straw for me was the hours cuts starting this week. We don't even have minimum floor coverage. I just told the scheduling ASM to take me off the posted schedule and I quit on the spot. Just walked out!

How can this company last much longer with this type of abuse of their customers.

How was the Christmas season in your store???
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( 54 comments — Leave a comment )


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