- As the company returns to growth, Barnes & Noble has rolled out a new tiered membership program with a free B&N Rewards level and a paid Premium Membership level, according to a Wednesday press release shared with Retail Dive.
- For $39.99 a year, premium members can receive a 10% discount in stores and online, free drink upgrades at Barnes & Noble cafes, free standard shipping, an annual free canvas tote and other perks. In both the free and paid programs, shoppers earn a stamp for every $10 spent and can redeem 10 stamps for a $5 reward, per the press release.
- The bookseller also said it plans to open more than 30 new bookstores in the coming year, on the back of “continued strong growth for the first time in over a decade.”
Barnes & Noble’s business is experiencing a comeback, driven by social media and word-of-mouth book recommendations. Shannon DeVito, senior director of books at Barnes & Noble, said the retailer looks forward to making curated recommendations and said that customers have responded “enthusiastically” to the launch of a free rewards program.
“It is a pleasure to revitalize our Membership, with the new Premium Membership now made so much more valuable to our customers,” James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble, said in a statement. “As well as the 10% discount and new spend-and-save rewards, we will be devoting our energies to creating additional offers for our Members. As booksellers, we will make these ever more personalized, sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm for books with our customers. It is a very exciting new direction for Barnes & Noble.”
Barnes & Noble joins a growing list of retailers that recently revamped or launched their rewards programs to entice consumers. Last year, REI, Saks Off Fifth, Bath & Body Works and Walmart were among the retailers that updated their loyalty offerings. The trend continued this year with both Madison Reed and Victoria’s Secret launching revamped loyalty programs. Even Amazon discussed enhancing its Prime membership with additional benefits as Prime subscriptions could be plateauing.
Though Barnes & Noble is plotting its comeback, U.S. consumers’ appetite for books seems to be declining. Per a Gallup poll released in January 2022, Americans surveyed said they read an average of 12.6 books in 2021, down from 15.3 books in 1990 and 14.5 in 2001. That same month, a Pew Research report also said that 65% of respondents had read a print book in the previous year, down from 72% in 2011. Pew also found that 30% of respondents had read an e-book, up from 17% in 2011.