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Fortune writes that Barnes & Noble, “coming off another awful quarter,” now believes that “the path to better financial performance could lie in operating smaller stores more focused on books with a more limited selection of items like games and toys.”

The epiphany comes after a year in which the retailer said it would focus more on differentiating through a better selection of - you guess it - games and toys, as well as experimentation with a format that includes a restaurant.

CEO Demos Parneros told analysts this week, “We want to have smaller stores that are more efficient … Going forward, we will place a greater emphasis on books, while further narrowing our non-book assortment.”

The Fortune story goes on: “One thing Barnes & Noble is doing is giving customers who bought a book a coupon to get a discount on a coffee at its café. That, Parneros said, has led to the first increase in comparable sales within its cafés in a year in the month of October. Another is to encourage its booksellers to engage with customers, something that should go without saying for a bookstore given that it is a rare reason to buy a book in a store rather than online from Amazon. And staff expertise is a big reason for the resurgence of many independent bookstores.”
KC's View:
The only thing that seems eminently clear is that these folks have absolutely no clue about what’s going to work. They know what hasn’t worked, but at this point they seem to be guessing.

What is extraordinary to me is the idea of a coffee coupon and employee engagement are viewed as strategic revelations that somehow will serve as differentiators. If this is what they’re counting on to get the company back into a race in which they’re being skunked by Amazon, then they’re in even worse shape that I thought. (And I thought they were in pretty bad shape.)