How does Barnes and Noble profit from having tons of chess books?

One thing that has really surprised me for years is that Barnes and Noble is a great place to buy chess books. They generally have at least a hundred of them on the shelves at any given location.

I was leader of the UW chess club last year (I guess I just revealed my identity), so I really don’t mind at all. But I’m still curious: exactly how does Barnes and Noble profit from having lots of chess books at every location? Unless you’re going to order online, the best place to go for chess books in any given city is apt to be B&N. How can this fail to be a bad move for the company?

Keep in mind, when answering this question, that I’m ever-so-slightly clueless when it comes to economic forces and the underlying principles of business management.

I’ve read your OP, like, 4 times. I can’t figure out what you’re missing. They profit from people buying them. As you said:

So…that’s how. What’s the mystery?

The fact that chess is not very popular in America.

Edit: and the fact that Barnes and Noble is supposed to be a general bookseller, rather than a sort of if-it-exists-you’ll-find-it-here bookseller like Powell’s.

Ah. So you’re saying it’s a bad move because no one buys chess books. My username probably biases me, but I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about that.

I would imagine that they sell really slowly. Maybe it’s okay for them to sell slowly?

My question is this: How is it not popular in America? It appears as if chess tournaments have even spread to smaller, more rural towns. My younger cousin recently participated in an elementary (yes, elementary) state championship in which there were one thousand or more children.

Someone goes to B&N to buy a chess book, because they know that B&N has lots of 'em. Then they pass by a stack of non-chess books and buy a few of those, too.

Or, someone goes to B&N to buy some other book and sees a chess book they always wanted, so they buy that, too.

Unless the chess shelf has dust an inch thick, I’d say it’s a win-win for all.

Maybe it’s sufficiently popular that the books sell. I just know that it is much more popular in most European states. A chess club member took a trip to Vienna a few years ago. While there, he found a site that he thought was for a Vienna chess club. In fact, it was a sort of networking or administrative web site for chess clubs in Vienna. They asked him where he was staying and they printed him out a list of about a hundred chess clubs he could go to that were very close to him.

Maybe this is an exaggeration, but you get my point.

Anyway, yes, you and Chessic Sense are probably right…I am probably underestimating the popularity of chess in the USA.

I thought B&N was a sort of if-it-exists-you’ll-find-it-here bookseller. I’ve never been to a Powell’s, but when B&N and Borders first started appearing in the late eighties, their range of titles and immense size was a dramatic change from smaller (and now lamentably lost) bookstores.

It’s the (apparently dead and slow moving) inventory they carry that gets people into their stores.

Since you are the leader of the UW team, I am guessing you must be a great chess mind, so I will fore-go posting a whole thread for this: Which chess books should a player my strength read in order to improve? (I recently did my first two tournaments and current rating is about 1574.) I wish to be at least 2000 so I can lead a club when I go to college as well.

I actually didn’t know this. I thought they were quick book-movers.

I am not a great chess player, and I don’t know a whole lot about chess books. But I’ve heard these are incredible:

Fundamental Chess Endings by K. Muller and F. Lamprecht
The Amateur’s Mind by Jeremy Silman (I’ve looked and it is quite good)

I’m only about 1700 myself, so you’ll probably be better than me when you go to college (unless that’s in, say, a few months?).

In my opinion, with the exception of endgame study, the best way to get better is just to be reflective while playing and try to discover new techniques and principles. Try to pick up nuggets of wisdom in different places. Some books are great, but you can waste tons of time memorizing variations for openings.

Apologies for the typo, but my provisional rating is 1374…not 1574. I guess I’m too eager to improve! B-)

Thanks, I have actually been recommended a book from “Silman” before, so I guess he must be good! I also have heard that studying the ending phase of a chess game is the most useful.

And not to be rude, but how is somebody who is 1700 the leader of the college team? I have a friend who is over 1800 (but plays much stronger) and only the ~10th best player at a smaller university.

From what I understand, provisional ratings tend to be underestimates. But in any case, let me save you some grief. I’m not that much better than you, but this will still save you lots of time (and you can’t get time back):

  • Do not spend time learning about the particulars of openings until you’re at least a master. There are some opening traps that you just have to know (like 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 Nxe4?? 4. Qe2), but you’re apt to pick up the most essential pieces of knowledge just from looking at games and playing with other people. What I’m saying is that you don’t need to read books with titles like The Sicilian Rossolimo: Bb5 Variation (I made up that title) because they just won’t really impact your play at the level you’re at.

  • You know how people tell you should learn the endgame? They’re right. It may bore you to tears, but if you actually want to win games, you have to learn your endgames.

  • It’s not as dumb to play blitz as people say it is, but you’re still better off playing slow games. The reason for this is that blitz only trains you to do what you already know how to do faster. Slow games encourage you to actually discover new ways of thinking about the game that increase your strategic knowledge. I would only recommend playing blitz for improvement (as oppose to just for fun) if you feel as though you know a lot about the game but you can’t apply it on a time clip.

  • For most people, the hurdle for improvement comes somewhere between a skill level of 1600 and 1900 rating points. This (unless you’re really, really smart) is where you’re going to have no choice but devote hours and hours to study.

I actually have not devoted enough time to overcome my hurdle. I may in the future, but right now I’m focusing on getting better at Mathematics. Anyway, at your level you should be able to improve quickly. When you get to that late-thousands skill hurdle, you’ll already be good enough to enjoy serious games at a college chess club.

It’s not a chess team, it’s a chess club. We get together and play chess. We only do competitive chess about once per year. The current leader of the chess club is better than me by about 250 rating points but often just doesn’t show up (effectively canceling the club). He hasn’t registered the club as an RSO.

Being really good at the game will make you seem like a tough dog to the other players, but it won’t actually make you a better club leader.

So u got kicked out of president by him coz hes better then u? Otherwise why were u the president n not now? If the leader cant teach u to get better then why is he the leader?

N what is a tough dog man? Lolz! All dogs r tough…

What the deuce! Leave it to a Lil Wayne fanatic to omit any semblance of proper grammar! (Just giving you a hard time Roxin). :=)

Joking aside, I may end up going to UW some day…so perhaps we will play together at chess club!

Well, Joey, if you hadn’t told us that it wasn’t the University of Wyoming or the University of Wisconsin your identity would still be shrouded in mystery. Now, only your choice of hobbies can protect you from our brand of excitement.

People buy chess books. I have five or sex and rarely play.

Had he just said UW, I’d have been convinced he meant the University of Waterloo.