Of course, bookstores and bars, as well as writers and bars, have been a mainstay for years. Here’s my own personal favorite, Spotty Dog Books and Ale in Hudson, NY.
A quick Google search reveals more library bars/bookshop bars all over the country: White Horse Trading Company in Seattle, WA; Book Bar in Denver, CO; Books and Brews in Indianapolis; Elements: Books Coffee Beer in Biddeford, ME. (Julia, have you ever been?)
Will this bold move by BN help it compete with Amazon? Will it affect its stock price? Will at attract more customers and take in more revenue? Bottom line — will it help the chain bookstore survive and not go the way of the late Borders? Personal bottom line: will a glass or two at the café persuade you to buy more books than you normally would?
We can only wait and see, and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine before we shop.
Reds, do you like the idea of bookstores with bars? What do you think of this move by BN? Would you be more likely to go to a bookstore with a bar? Go more often? Buy more books?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Wine and books sounds like heaven to me. But then--does it? I only drink wine at night. Do I go to bookstores at night ? Well, yes, if there's a signing or an appearance. If so, yes to wine. Big time. Would I meet a pal at a bookstore if there was wine? Yes, but I'd do that anyway, and it's usually more of a time for coffee. But I am all about this experiment! Anything that can get people into bookstores. All good.
RHYS BOWEN: Wine is often served at signings I do at independent bookstores. It's a nice touch and makes things more festive. Like Hank, I am ambivalent about Barnes and Noble serving wine. I can't see anything against it but it wouldn't lure me into a bookstore if I hadn't set out to buy a book. I'd certainly appreciate a glass if I came to do a signing. I'm all in favor of anything that makes the bookstore feel like a central gathering place. It may well lower inhibitions and make people buy more books. However, as someone who was brought up to treat books with care, I am already horrified when I see people in Barnes and Noble drinking coffee and eating cake while looking at books they haven't yet purchased. Wouldn't wine make things even more sloppy? And they might start serving nachos with the wine...
HALLIE EPHRON: There's already more nonbooks than books in my local B&N. Between the coffee bar, the toys, the stationery, pens, and calendars etc... I won't be surprised if they start hosting our local farmer's market in the cookbook section. But I want them to survive, so whatever it takes.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I haven't even heard of Coffee, Beer and Books, which is surprising, since I live not far from Biddeford.
I'll have to check it out. To me, the problem with the "beer or wine served in a bookstore" concept is that reading books is a solitary activity, while drinking is sociable. Not that I won't have a glass of wine while reading a book at home, but if I go out for a drink, I'm meeting up with friends. And if I'm with friends, I want to be talking, not have my nose stuck in a book. On the converse, if I'm going to the bookstore, I don't want to get too chatty; I want to browse and find a good read. Also? I don't want my friend who only reads Russian novels or Dan DeLillo giving me the eye when I pick up KILT DEAD or ARSENIC AND AUSTEN.
I am, however, wholeheartedly in favor of alcohol at book signings! The best book launch I ever had was when my local Longfellow Books set up inside a great Irish Pub and I did my talk in the upstairs section. My publisher provided two drink tickets for every attendee. We sold SO MANY books to the happily inebriated crowd...
LUCY BURDETTE: I always bring wine and cake to a book launch event. Maybe it draws a few more people than might have thought about coming? But I'm dubious about how wine will help Barnes and Noble. It certainly wouldn't help me at the grocery store--I have a hard enough time remembering my list!
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: OK, personal story here — Noel and I ended up at a Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side after our first date — a date that was, honestly, not going so well — and a glass of wine might have helped! And so, personally, I think it might make B&N more of a date destination, as well as helping book lovers connect. At any rate, I wish B&N luck!
Lovely readers, what do you think of Barnes & Noble's new plan for bars at their bookstores? Have you ever been to a bookstore/bar? If so, what do you think? Please tell us in the comments!