Barnes & Noble Using Tech to Connect with Young Adults. But to What End?

NEWS ANALYSIS – Earlier this year Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last-standing retail book chain, reported sobering financial results, including near 6% drop in same-store sales due to lower foot traffic. Notable, since the winter holiday shopping period typically drives even non-readers to the bookstore.

The decline of the bookstore, unfortunately, mirrors much of the brick-and-mortar retail landscape. People are increasingly purchasing and consuming everything (except food and gasoline) online.

The trend among book readers, especially teens and young adults, is interesting since so much of Hollywood’s fare (Harry PotterThe Twilight Saga, Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner) is based on popular novels and book series targeting the young.

The same demo that consumes everything through a smartphone or connected device.

So, B&N May 17 launched the “YA Podcast,” featuring an interview with bestselling teen author Cassandra Clare, whose “The Mortal Instruments” series was turned into the 2013 Sony Pictures movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, starring Lily Collins.

“YA Podcast” follows the launch last year of the B&N Podcast and will feature in-depth interviews with what B&N calls the “leading voices in the vibrant teen publishing community.”

Upcoming guests include authors Renée Ahdieh, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Garber, Marisha Pessl, Rainbow Rowell and Sabaa Tahir.

The YA Podcast, which can be accessed at BN.com, iTunes and Stitcher, is hosted by YA author Melissa Albert, and will offer new episodes every two weeks, with the goal of giving readers a “fresh and unique” perspective on what is on the minds of some of their favorite authors.

“We’re launching this YA podcast to provide our customers with a new platform to delve deeper into this diverse community and hear from their favorite authors and those they might not have found otherwise,”said Stephanie Fryling, VP of merchandising, children’s books.

Fryling said publishers are requesting more content from this genre, adding a“dedicated podcast around YA is a clear response to this demand.”

But will they still buy the book at the retail store?

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