The fact is that BN could have saved itself by not laying off all those who got the chop on Black Monday the year before last. These people--and I knew at least a dozen--were perfectly fine working for very low wages, because they believed they had a calling, a profession. It was considered a badge of honor that they worked for BN, because they were booksellers.
For as absurdly low as they were paid, they were the backbone of the company. They were the people who could hand-sell, who could talk to fellow readers, about what to buy. They had many years in the trade, and like most in the trade, they were unpaid, overworked, and loved the business. Naturally, this was an outmoded principle. Bookselling was considered, by those in NYC, to be about the same as selling dishwashers, patio furniture, or sports apparel. Why pay a twenty-year bookseller a few bucks over the minimum wage when you could pay some goof off the street for a few cents over minimum wage to do the same thing?
So there you go. Thousands of years of bookselling experience thrown to the winds. Can Elliott Management turn things around?
Maybe. But, I don't think so.
To all those bookselling brothers and sisters out there, still holding on: you've got a few months of grace. Take advantage of that. And the best of luck to you.