B&N March Madness Tournament of Books: Good idea; slightly awkward implementation

Contrary to a comment on a previous post, I do not have an axe to grind with Barnes & Noble. As I’ve said before, I want them to succeed because competition is good in the book space, especially the e-book space.

Therefore, I want to point out a good Barnes & Noble idea. Apparently every March for the last nine years, they have run a “Tournament of Books.” I saw a press release about it today and went to check it out.

Lots of companies run bracket-style competitions this time of year, often with a user voting element involved. B&N does theirs a bit differently. They have a judge comment on each book pair and select one as the winner. The judges let loose with their biases, commentary and ultimate decision. I read a couple of them, and they were interesting. I can’t say I agreed with all their reasoning, but they were fun to read. Following the judge’s decision is a “Match Commentary” by the Tournament Chairmen. Those were even more fun to read than the judges’ opinion. The Chairmen didn’t hesitate to take aim and fire when they thought it appropriate.

This is a good idea. It’s engaging and fun. It gives customers a reason to stop by the site regularly, and there’s a darned good reason to buy the books, both winners and losers. Who doesn’t want to see if their opinion about a book matches that of the judge or the chairmen?

However, I indicated in my headline that the implementation is awkward. What did I mean by that? The tournament ends on Friday, and they just sent out a press release today. They should have sent it a few days before the tournament began. Also, I’ve been a B&N customer for years, and this is the first I’ve heard about it.

So, good idea. But promoting it earlier and with more fanfare would turn it into a great idea.

5 Comments on B&N March Madness Tournament of Books: Good idea; slightly awkward implementation

  1. Actually, it’s not B&N that runs the Tournament of Books. The company is just a sponsor. The Tournament of Books is the product of an online magazine called The Morning News. From the link in your story:

    The competition, in which two works of fiction from 2012 go head to head each day, is run by The Morning News (http://www.themorningnews.org/tob), an online magazine of essays, art and humor.

  2. I agree with you, I found this by accident nad thought is wa a great idea, actually interested me. But I’d NEVER heard of it, saw nothing in the press, and had to find when hunting around their site. I think that the management at B&N doesn’t get the new eBook and digital space as much as they pretend to.

    Its preventing me from buying a more expensive HD, even though I like the idea of it. The support is not good, sketchy and inconsistent. I once lost ALL my ebooks from them when they closed down the Microsoft eBook format shop they had with no real warning for customers.

    I like them overall, and we DO need competition inthis space, but the implementation is lacking. And while this MATCH was a good idea, it’s too late to take advantage of it. So you are SPOT ON!

  3. @Rob. Good catch. I didn’t read the press release in enough detail. I think my basic point still stands. A press release at the end of a sponsored event is still awkward.

  4. This is also the first year that B&N has sponsored it. Previously, it was Powell’s.

  5. @Juli: To be fair, B&N also promoted the Tournament extensively throughout the month on the B&N Review: http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/custom/page/page-id/archive?x=0&y=0&q=tournament

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