Last week, Barnes and Noble conducted its own version of a Saint Valentine's Day massacre by laying off many of its most experienced employees--including receiving managers, the people who keep the shelves stocked. While this move is meant to save them money, my gut feeling is that it's a desperation move that isn't going to save them. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader gives the chain nineteen months before they go under. I'm not that optimistic; I think they'll declare bankruptcy in less than a year.
Before I got married, I used to hang out at my local Barnes and Noble when I wanted to get out of my apartment for a while. It was nice to browse, buy some books, and get a drink and a treat at the cafe while I wrote. These days, I seldom make it to the bookstore, and I don't spend as much there as I used to. Many of the books I buy are ebooks, and when I do order a paper book, I tend to get it from Amazon or at a convention. So while I'll be sad to see Barnes and Noble go, losing it won't have a big effect on my daily life. It'll be much more difficult for all the people employed by Barnes and Noble, and for authors who see a drop in sales through no fault of their own.
That said, when Barnes and Noble goes, there may be more opportunities for local bookstores, especially if they can host readings and other activities. Personally, I think Amazon will continue to be my default book store due to convenience and selection.
What kind of bookstores do you have in your area? Would you be affected if Barnes and Noble goes bankrupt? Feel free to share in the comments.