Authors and consumers alike have discovered Amazon.com. This is old news. Amazon might well be the Wal-mart of the book industry, driving competitors out of business and gaining an ever larger share of the market. I sell my books on Amazon. I buy books from Amazon, mainly when I can get the book I am looking for used and at a low price.
Nothing beats going to Barnes & Noble though to just "shop" for a book or two. It is an inviting atmosphere where you feel comfortable just sitting down and thumbing through a book or two or browsing the shelves. My wife likes to get coffee and look and as silly as it might sound, a trip to Barnes & Noble has often been a date night for us.
A trip via the internet to Barnesandnobel.com will find you viewing a handsome homepage. But why has Barnes and Noble not been able to at least put up a decent fight against the Amazon juggernaut? I personally like the way the Barnes and Noble site looks better than Amazon. But my favoritism towards the Barnes and Noble site ends with appearances.
Amazon's search engine is much better. The books it pulls up for me to view are largely within the scope of the topic I am searching for. The same cannot be said for the search engine of the Barnes and Noble site. Amazon's search engine is designed to be tailored to the customer as well, another reason it is more effective than the Barnes and Noble search engine.
My main complaint though is not as a customer but as an author. Amazon has created tools for the author to use to help promote his or her book and to provide information about the book readers and the search engine will both find helpful in matching the right book to the right customer. The tools available are limited to submitting basic product information and correcting errors. These are valuable features but do not provide authors a means to have their book presented to readers in as wide a range of opportunities as possible. Simply put, while Amazon's many features might not individually amount to a large number of sales, when combined together Amazon's features increase a books exposure to a customer interested in its topic or genre. Repeated exposure of a title increases the likelihood it will be purchased.
In a day and age when things are becoming more and more internet based, if I worked at Barnes and Noble in the online division, I would be thinking long and hard about how to make things easier for authors to promote their book on our site in an effort to carve out a share of Amazon's business. For Barnes and Noble to survive years from now in competition with Amazon.com, the time is now to make these improvements.