Barnes and Noble has introduced new shopping bags featuring first pages from classic novels to highlight the difference between shopping at a bookstore versus shopping online. “You don’t get a shopping bag when you shop online—you get a box,” the bookstore’s Creative Director Glenn Kaplan explained to Bloomberg.The bookseller is hoping customers will reuse the bags. According to the news site, “The company distributes more than 90 million bags a year, making the totes one of its most effective advertising campaigns.” In its bid to compete with Amazon, Barnes and Noble has focused on building experiences that match the e-tailer’s including creating an e-reader and selling products other than books.
Though disposable plastic bags featuring backlist titles are not likely to catch the attention of customers who shop online and read from a device precisely because they don’t want to lug an extra bag around, it’s a promising sign that the bookseller is beginning to celebrate the things that are unique to the brick and mortar experience. Here’s hoping they will continue in this vein and take advantage of their physical space to foster community and cement themselves in the mind of book lovers as the place to engage with literature and authors in a meaningful way, as Amazon has recently opened a brick and mortar location. Right now, the online retailer is targeting B&N’s lucrative college book demo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually evolve to cater to all demos.