Which do you like better, Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million?

Which do you like better, Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million?

You can check the answer of the people under the question at Quora “coffee shop in books a million

0 thoughts on “Which do you like better, Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million?”

  1. Unfortunately, I cannot address this topic, as there are as yet no Books-a-Million nearby. I refuse to use Amazon for just about anything, including books. I have ordered from Barnes & Noble on occasion. When looking for a older title, I will check with Half Price Books from time to time.

  2. My first thought is to say Books-A-Million. I have fond childhood memories of going with my grandfather so he could peruse the latest books about cars and I could pick up the most recent Choose Your Own Adventure book. However, I also have fond memories of going to Barnes and Noble with my Dad whenever I visit.

  3. Personally, I always liked Barnes & Noble better. I’m not saying that because I eventually worked for Barnes & Noble. I liked shopping there better than B-A-M before I ever was employed there. To be fair, I never spent a lot of time at Books-A-Million. For about 6 months, it was the only major book retailer that was available in the area I was living at the time, and even then it wasn’t ideally located and my schedule was such that it discouraged frequent visits. But it also just didn’t appeal to me. It felt like the Odd Lots/Big Lots/Value City of bookstores. The space was too bright and cold feeling, like a department store rather than a library. And I wasn’t impressed with the display and organization of their merchandise. It never really grew on me.
    I had previously lived in a city where I could shop at either Borders or Barnes & Noble and I preferred them both to B-A-M. And between those two, I preferred Barnes & Noble. I primarily went to Borders to shop for music, as they had an extensive inventory and a liberal listening policy not unlike the oft forgotten Blockbuster Music. This was in the days before digital downloading. But the decor at Borders reminded me of an elementary school library and I didn’t like their casual dress policy for employees. It seemed to impact their work standards as customer service at Borders also seemed overly casual.
    Barnes & Noble had an interior design aesthetic that really appealed to me and reminded me of how I would like to decorate my own personal library: lots of dark woods; tall vertical bookcases that stretch up almost beyond reach; rich saturated earth tones of green, brown and cream; high ceilings with soft, diffuse light radiating from elegant fixtures. I enjoyed that atmosphere immensely and spent a lot of time there as a result. I also liked that B&N maintained a business casual dress code. No jeans, no t-shirts, no athletic shoes. All slacks, skirts, button-ups, blouses, and polos. It gave the staff a certain air of professionalism. I even appreciated this when I worked there, although it did create built-in challenges to make sure I allowed for appropriate work attire in my clothing budget.
    I think ultimately these minor differences in market positioning may be what led to the longer term success of Barnes & Noble. I mean Borders is gone and Books-A-Million has much less market saturation than B&N, don’t they?

  4. There are no BAMs in my area, only Barnes & Noble. So I can’t compare the two. But we do have quite a few independent bookstores in Bay Areas.

  5. I appreciate that Barnes & Noble has more variety than Books-A-Million, so I have to make that my final answer. That being said, I enjoy getting bargain books from Books-A-Million as Christmas gifts—there is always something interesting there about survival, ancient civilizations, or World War II history to interest my family members. They also have a great variety of bookmarks and novelty items.

  6. Although they both are the most popular booksellers, I feel like they are completely different stores.
    The layout is sort of the same; registers at the front and a cafe on the side of the store. (BN slightly differs by having a Customer Service kiosk in the store for help).
    I worked at BN so I may be biased, but the feeling you get once you walk into a BN is incomparable to BAM.
    BN feels like a cozy setting to relax, grab a book and walk around the store or sit down in the cafe and read.
    Usually, BN has the fixtures with non book related items all huddled up equal sections around the store to create a balanced feeling. There will be long aisles of books and the sections are clearly labled with the genre and have dividers in Alphabetical order by author in each genre.
    The endcaps (the shelf on the side of an end of an aisle) do not make any sense or are related to the aisle it is on the end of which used to make it confusing for ME to find a book that happened to be on it for a customer. For example: Good Housekeeping cookbooks were on the Fiction books endcap for a good while. (in the middle aisles of the fiction section too js).
    Usually, a BN will have a cafe selling Starbucks items. It’s Starbucks, you probably know how that tastes like. Nothing special really (unless you get an apple tart. They are AMAZING!) And the tables/chairs look like they could use a lot of loving.
    The magazine section in BN is a nightmare though. It is all squeezed into the section it belongs in with many to get lost within the unorganization of it all (managers knew better than to let me fix it because I would take a while) and usually your bookseller will not be able to find you a magazine if it is not popular or on a special fixture and just tell you we don’t have it.
    The games section is a whole nother story I’d rather not get into because of how many there are.
    At BAM, the fixtures with non book related items are sparse and give you an overwhelming feeling of having dumb knick knacks / novelty items being shoved in your face wherever you go throughout the store (think of pops and tables full of “Slime” and “Unicorn” items.) The first time I walked into a BAM I saw more dumb items than actual books (whole fixture dedicated to psychic body rocks or something) which is not what I really came for.
    The aisles of books are in alphabetical order as well but do not have dividers (at least the ones I’ve visited) which, to the average person who does not understand how bookstores are laid out, might be confusing. The end caps I honestly haven’t had a good look at in order to compare.
    One thing I’ll give to BAM, is organzation of big sections (Not knick knacks / novelty). For example, the Religious and magazine section.
    The Christian section had (it seemed like) everything that was related to it at that specific location. Example: bookmarks, bible dividers, planners, the works. (BN had the Christian bookmarks thrown into the whole bookmark section-making it a bit hard to locate a lot of Christian related items throughout the store since they were scattered by the item’s category than what the item is ABOUT)
    The magazine section, (at my BAM) was at the corner of the left side of the store. It went on for a long time almost to the midpoint of the end of the store, so it is a LONG section. There were a few more rows under it, a total of like 10. It is huge but everything is laid out on one continuous wall which is WAY easier to locate a magazine as compared to BN’s cluster of small, sad magazine aisles.
    The Joe Muggs in BAM looks promising, I haven’t gotten around to trying some so I can’t judge it there. Although I’ll try it soon because the cafe looks bright and clean compared to BN’s dingy looking one.
    The games section in BAM is less than BN’s but they have more toys. BN has more board games, and card decks stuff like that. But BAM has more kid friendly toys that are packaged and meant for a single person as opposed to a group.
    The bargain section in BAM is more organized in a sense that EVERYTHING that was cheap was in that section of the store. BN has a bargain section too, but it is on multiple tables and aisles around the store making it a bit tedious to find a good book at a good price since you have to look around a bit.
    The last critique is where you end your shopping trip-
    the checkout.
    BN’s checkout usally contains a few magazines on the front of the registers and bookmarks to the side of you in case you almost miss them on your way out. There will be a table consisting of the next biggest holiday (Halloween,Christmas,Valentines).
    BAM’s checkout (At my local one, can’t speak for all) makes you walk through a small maze containing a bunch of the dumb knick knacks I talked about before. An overwhelming amount really. It was shocking looking at the tall stands full of Japanese items staring at you as you walked through the short maze to get to the registers.
    After you’re done being traumatized by small trifles, the cashier at BAM will pester you into getting a membership. Same with BN.
    At the end of the day, bookstores are meant to sell BOOKS.
    Barnes & Noble gets this and makes sure that most of the time the book you’re looking for, it’s in stock at a store. They focus on book stands, fixtures and displays. Everytime I walk into a B&N, there is someone in the aisles fixing it up or something. Their website is far superior as well (Please, look it up in your web browser for a good laugh).
    Books-A-Million seems to prioritize the non book related items they sell, and the books are just there in case you want one. I usually see the dumb items getting rotated into the spotlight more than the books which doesn’t feel right. They also have no Customer Service desk/kiosk so you are on your own unless you can hunt a worker down for help.
    I’ve also noticed both stores can have the same exact genre sections but BAM’s has a significantly smaller amount of books within the section although the stores are the same size. Which brings me back on the conclusion that BAM uses the space in the store to sell things other than BOOKS.
    Bookstores should always prioritize selling books.
    Both bookstores has its ups and its downs, but because BN has a wider selection of books I would prefer visting B&N over BAM.

  7. Before i started work at Books A Million I was huge Barnes and Noble fan. When I started working there I realized how much better Books a Million is at least in my opinion. We have our own coffee brand which is swear is better than starbucks. It feels homier and like I belong there.
    One of managers actually used to work at Barnes and Noble and says that Books A Million is better. She says everyone here is nicer and it actually feels like a family which is very true. Some of our people play D&D together.
    I know people that used to work at Barnes and Noble and they didn’t like it. At least the branch they worked at wasn’t very accommodating with their school and theatre schedules.
    To be fair I have not been to Barnes and Noble in like a year so I don’t know if anything has changed but from my standpoint Books a Million is much better.

  8. I haven’t been to Books-A-Million being as I’m from small town, but as a Barnes and Noble employee who sees it from the inside, it’s hard to be better than B&N. The cozy, welcoming feel is unparalleled in corporate business. It’s comparable to walking into a hometown coffee shop. I can’t speak for Books-A-Million, but B&N has a wide variety and is also good to have sales and markdowns. Plus, the membership feature is a great deal for regular shoppers.

  9. Books a Million has its place in the business, and it’s nice to see a dedicated bookstore selling off-price books instead of totally conceding that segment to Target, Costco and Walmart- the Big Three who actually run the publishing industry. But it’s not a full service bookstore that fosters community, love of reading, etc., it’s a retail outlet.
    So my preference is Barnes and Noble – (This is being written on my Nook, btw.) Thanks for asking!

  10. Since Books-a-Million carries overstocks, I often find older books and at a much better price. One disappointment about Barnes & Noble is that the one closest to me doesn’t seem to have a sales staff that knows about books, especially children’s books. To be fair, I haven’t shopped in other Barnes & Noble stores. By and far I prefer shopping at independent book stores and Half-Price books.

    Eight O’Clock

  11. I vote for Barnes & Noble because it sells my books, and I have never heard of Books-A-Million. The city in which I reside does not have a bookstore within 100 miles.

  12. The only contact I’ve had with them was when I had book signings. They both had everything set up when I got there and provided some refreshments also. Book signings are about time-consumption and sales, something I never liked, nor do I to this day but I do still attend them, on occasion.

  13. There’s no question Barnes and Nobles is much better. Books-a-Million is a largely un-curated mess, a pile of books you have to sift through with very little customer service. Barnes and Nobles is a quaint, well-stocked book store with all kinds of search and help, which as a result is slowly going out of business.

  14. I’ve never actually heard of Books-A-Million. Barnes & Noble is okay but they aren’t serious booksellers. I mean, they sell books, but they sell books like Safeway sells milk – they are a commodity. I have never run into anyone working a Barnes & Noble that knew anything about books – ask a pointed, specific question and they race to their database. Go into Barnes and Noble and ask something like: “I like novels by Flann O’Brien but I’ve read everything he has written; can you suggest another, similar author?” They don’t know who he is, what he wrote, when he wrote it, etc; they’ve never heard of him. They are absolutely clueless. Substitute all kinds of people for Flann O’Brien, depending on your preference – Kerouac, Trollope, Faulkner, Melville – they won’t know. They wouldn’t know a book from a cinder block. They can probably point you in the direction of the latest bestseller. They do have a lot of books. But it does feel kind of like buying a horse from someone who can’t ride or a guitar from someone who doesn’t play.

  15. While in Florida—Jacksonville—I became aware of Books-a-Million and used them quite often.
    On moving to California I found that Books-a-Million was not in business out there and I have had to rely on Barnes and Noble since most of the other bookstores have gone out of business in the areas where I live. In Las Vegas Barnes and Noble have a monopoly so there isn’t much choice
    Which do I prefer? Really, neither. I’m more into used book stores since the price of books is almost out of sight. I am also into freebies[the price is right] through an outlet called The Fussy Librarian you might look at. It is primarily an Amazon outlet, but sometimes. . . .


  16. To be honest, neither! What people don’t realize is one thing, they both are priced out the butt!! We have looked in store & online at BAM & online at B&N & they have the same exact prices! Blu Rays & DVDS at these locations are higher than other brick & mortar stores with the exception of FYE!! Trying to find books online through both that are older can even be a pain as well!! Amazon has them but they have let their sellers price everything off the market!! What we need is a bookstore that has everything you are looking for & have it all at reasonable prices!!

  17. I find Barnes and Nobles to just have the dull leftist mainstream books. While Books a Million has much more alternative, interesting, substance based books. I don’t care the layout isn’t as good. I don’t mind hunting for a good book. I could go through Barnes and Nobles and not spend a cent. I could go to Books a Million and blow through my budget. Selection is king.

  18. Barnes and Noble. Even though I seldom enjoy going to the store I still get my materials through the internet or even by calling the store.
    I don’t know whether it still exists, but several years ago there was something called Barnes and Noble University. It was an online instructional opportunity. I engaged in several book discussions as well in classes in meteorology, mathematics, computer languages and other things that interest me. There was no charge and I met some interesting people in the discussions. I don’t know whether this is still available.
    Barnes and Noble have (had?) the best cookies and coffee. A friend and I often stopped after church. When I first read Christopher Moore’s, Lamb I couldn’t wait to share it with friends at church that Sunday. After leaving for home, Steve and I met several people at Barnes and Noble who were getting the book themselves. Barnes and Noble was my hangout.

    Victor Allen’s

  19. B and N, only because I am familiar with their store and layout. I haven’t visited a Books-A-Million yet. I could change my mind. The first stores I ever visited and appeared in were B. Dalton’s and Waldon. They have long sense gone the way of the dodo.


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