What is wrong with Barnes & Noble? If you ask investors, they would tell you the bookseller has lost its importance because the market B&N served has changed. The way it buys and uses books has changed. They would say that Barnes & Noble is a dinosaur.

IMG_1444Look at the recent earnings report and you would have to agree. The company reported a net loss of $87 million, or $1.56 per share, for the fiscal first quarter ending July 27. Compare that with a loss of $39.8 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier. If you were an options trader, last week was the time to sell Puts.

I think Barnes & Noble still has a whisper of a chance to both survive and prosper but the brand and the brand promise needs a complete overhaul. It needs to be less about what you buy (books) and more about why. When Barnes & Noble closes its doors, many of us will mourn the loss of the bookstore experience.

Sadly, we will only miss it when it is gone because Barnes & Noble ‘s brand has no such brand promise and elicits none of that fear. The brand currently is only that of “booksellers.”

Does the Barnes & Noble brand flood you with the distinct and expansive scent of books? Does it fill you with the wonder of discovery that is so pleasant on a rainy Saturday afternoon when, with no particular book in mind, you leisurely discover a gem you did not know you needed?

Barnes & Noble can’t compete on price or selection. The Internet will always have lower prices and a greater selection. But the experience is an emotional difference — not a rational one. Understanding that difference and executing it is how you grow market share. Know what you are good at and become legend.