A novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paul Harding has received an unexpected endorsement from Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt in an interview in Publishers Weekly. Talking about the retailer’s role in bringing books to readers – a role that is more important as newspapers “fade away by the day” – he said that one example of the type of book the chain should be making happen is Harding’s This Other Eden (Norton), a tale of racism on an island off the coast of Maine. He describes it as a “work of genius [which isn’t getting] the type of glare it deserves”.
Sales for the chain were up in 2022 on 2021, with fiction and manga leading the way. He said non-fiction needs attention and that sales of ebooks were quiet. The chain is looking at its non-book gift area and revamping it to make its non-book offering more related to books.
Digital audio is doing well, with a subscription service drawing in customers. It has started supporting Macy’s online operation and will consider further such ventures.
The company has benefited from the rise in reading during the pandemic and its store regeneration programme is on-going. Daunt believes a well-presented store leads to a rise in sales.
He hopes to have around 30 more stores to add to its tally of 600 by year’s end, taking into account closures and openings. He also said the company may revisit locations where stores were closed under previous ownership to see if new opportunities have emerged.
He concluded: “I’m feeling very good about things. It is an exciting time to be a bookseller.”