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Working at Barnes and Noble — Reviews by Employees

Learn what employees have to say about Barnes and Noble pay, work/life balance, care potential, job security, and much more by reading our anonymous employee reviews.

Reviews of Jobs at Barnes and Noble

4.2Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits4
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth5
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment4

From Arizona — 07/04/2010

I came from the "other" bookselling company, and there is a world of difference. I am appreciated for my skills and knowledge here. I have now worked in three B&N stores, and had great experiences in all of them. The downsides are that there are no primary care doctors in my area that take the insurance and it is difficult to move non-productive employees out, because our manager is hugely forgiving.
The pay is commesurate with carrying low-profit margin items. Don't work here to get rich, work here only if you love books and can share that with others. Overall, I'm loving it here.
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4.1Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Louisiana — 06/14/2010

I worked at BN for 3 years during college. I was a part time bookseller so I was thrilled that the company not only worked around my school schedule, they also offered excellent benefits to a part-timer. I love books so the environment was ideal for me (especially since BN has the employee book borrowing program). While I can't say whether it's worthwhile to pursue a long term retail career with BN, I can say that as a student, working there is an absolute pleasure.
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3.3Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect2
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth2
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From IL — 06/08/2010

The company itself has gone through a major overhaul in the few years since I've joined the company. I am seeing things from a different perspective as I am a departmental manager. The difficulties that the floor employees don't see are really coming directly down from the top. Corporate's secrecy on developmental programs and revisions to systems has been vague. When something new debuts, it's brand new and unfortunately, nobody knows what is going on because there was no information until it happened. Additionally, store budgets, payroll reports, etc. take their time coming down the line. Without these guidelines, the stores are left to guess and attempt to manage their locations blindly. With more and more pressure on management teams to drive sales, eliminate payroll, and somehow maintain good morale, this is a difficult task. My specific gripe is in regards to our district management. There is a complete lack of positivity and a constant drive for results. There is never a positive comment, only criticism. This diminishes pride and causes anxiety within the store manager and other managers alike.

B&N has phenomenal benefits, a great respect for work/life balance, accessible locations, and great employees. It's a true shame their pay for managers is not competitive and that for departmental sales managers, there is not a bonus structure. I personally, negotiated my pay before accepting the job. It was never mentioned to me as a result of that, I would be docked a portion of a percentage of my future raises because I am at the top of the pay scale for my position. If I am producing above and beyond goal, I should at least get the full 3% raise! A disgruntled and stressed management team leads to a negative environment for our floor employees. Finally, it seems, managers give up and do what it takes to skate by. I'm someone who thrives for results and my performance shows that. Without any incentive structure for pay and a lack of any positive recognition, I'm feeling under-appreciated by my district manager and my company. We all go above and beyond and deserve an incentive to keep up the great work. A kind word goes a long way!

For a retail job, this is an amazing opportunity. For a manager, there is almost no opportunity to advance quickly within B&N. If you're looking for retail for life, B&N is the place to be but it isn't for me. I love my customers, I love what I do, I just can't live a lifestyle I work for without being rewarded for my results. It gets frustrating and without venting to fellow managers, there is no place to communicate your frustrations.
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4.1Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits4
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From Connecticut — 03/15/2010

Barnes and Noble is like no other retailer out there. The atmosphere, even to work in, is so much more comfortable than any company I've worked for. Of course nothing is perfect. You have to be a store or assistant store manager to even begin making decent money, and a lot of it depends on your experience, store volume, location, your ability to negotiate, etc. It is a pretty progressive company and its values of tolerance are fantastic. Each of the over 700 stores is going to have its own energy, which usually comes from the store manager down. I find the quality of employee way higher than other retailers. By the way, while the pay isn't great, neither are most other retail positions...can they offer you a 50% discount in cafe? 20% discount in music? 30% discount on books? Didn't think so! There is also a variety a of ways to express discontent, from phone numbers to district and regional managers. If so many people have such problems, try to work the system to your advantage. Nothing will always be roses, but in comparison, I'm very happy.
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3.3Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect4
Benefits4
Job Security2
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth2
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment4

From Virginia — 03/11/2010

Good: I'm lucky enough that the overwhelming majority of my co-workers are decent, hard working individuals. Everyone's in college or already has Bachelor's degree or more - most are fairly intelligent (not that this job requires a lot) and basically getting screwed by the poor job market. Many have families. We are offered health insurance/benefits. Several managers are personable and just as willing to praise something good as reprimand something bad. You do meet interesting people from everywhere. The cafe discount is pretty good. Your schedule can be flexible but you have to be very clear, very soon with the mgmt about your availability.

Bad: We do, of course have That One Manager who's oblivious to anything actually happening on the sales floor; agrees to/OK's things (such as assignments or schedule changes), then denies having even discussed the topic with anyone, even when there were witnesses to the affirmation; and out right scoffs at absolutely legitimate frustrations/concerns of the booksellers. And you have the 1 or 2 customers who are rude and obnoxious and pay sucks but it's retail - I'm sure you already knew that. I said before that many fellow booksellers have families - there's no way they could support themselves and 2 or 3 kids without some form of public assistance. No one talks about it out of politeness, but come on. Assignments are given out, but you may not have any time actually scheduled into you shift to go to that section, much less complete the work. There are pretty much no opportunities for advancement. Willingness to take on more responsibility is not a way to get a better position, it only means That One Manager will come to you first to get a job done, in spite of the fact that you already have 4 other assignments and the Customer Service desk to operate and you are still getting paid a sucky wage like everyone else who's doing 1 job. There is no commission with Membership sales. Two years of service - .25 more per hour. Won't spend it all in one place, I promise.

Conclusion: BN is a good place to work if you are in school - which means you have an Exit Strategy. It's a decent place to be if you're riding out the crappy job market - again, you have an Exit Strategy. However, if you're a grown adult with obligations like a child and rent/bills/debts etc. this is not a place that will allow you to take care of them. With the direction the company is headed, BN cannot possibly expect booksellers, even leads, to look at their job as a way to make a living.
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4.5Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Florida — 12/28/2009

Pay: B&N is retail, so pay isn't fantastic. However, you receive an annual raise and have a great discount on books, music, dvds, and cafe items.

Respect: Level of respect from co-workers and management really depends on the person. Overall, respect is high. During high stress times (for retail), such as Christmas, respect can diminish. Respect from customers also depends on the person. Unfortunately, the rude customers are easier to remember than the pleasant ones.

Benefits: HR with B&N is extremely easy. B&N offers health and dental insurance and a retirement plan. (All depending on your work status)

Job Security: It is rather difficult to get fired from B&N. However, some management will just cut your hours which forces you to quit.

Work/Life Balance: Management always appreciates it if you are willing to come in to cover shifts, or to leave work early if payroll needs to be cut for that day. Honestly, work and life can easily be balanced even if you are a lead. Balance with a management roll is a bit more difficult.
Around the holiday season work/life balance can get crazy. But, this is true for all retail during that season.
Full-time booksellers have paid holidays and sick days. Typically, if you need time off, management can make it happen if enough notice is given.

Career Potential/Growth: Moving from bookseller to lead to management can be difficult. Honestly, it depends on your standing with management. Most B&N stores have started cross-training booksellers to work in many different areas. As long as there is good communication between booksellers and management about career goals, there is the potential for growth.

Location: B&Ns are typically built in good locations.

Co-worker Competence: This is dependent on each person. Overall, B&N has good training for new booksellers and has a library of information in break rooms if a bookseller wants to review procedures.

Work Environment: Overall work environment at B&N is pleasant. If you enjoy books/music/movies, it is a great place to work! If the work environment isn't healthy at a particular store, the company has a hotline set-up for employees to call with their concerns.
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3.4Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect3
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth2
Location5
Co-Workers3
Work Environment2

From Plano, TX — 11/26/2009

You can't expect great things from retail. I guess with books, at least you aren't folding or hanging clothes. But you still have to shelve books. I hated making rounds and picking up all of the unwanted books and magazines customers left behind. The hours were not good at all. Our particular location closed at 11:00 PM, but closing procedures meant we left at 11:20 PM on great days and past 12:00 AM on weekends if the store was really messy, Selling membership cards was always enforced if your assignment was to cashier. The benefits were great, but there was no room to advance, career wise (if you decided to take that trek). Your pay would be limited, but your responsibilities were limitless. This was my first job and I'm glad my experience was a pretty fair one. I liked the people I worked with, but the turnover was horrible.
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3.2Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security2
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Virginia — 10/09/2009

I've been with B&N for just over a year, and it seems that a majority of reviewers have had strikingly disparate experiences to mine. My managers treat me like a human being. They ask for input and discuss some decisions. The only problem in the store is BookMaster. I hate our lame search engine. Otherwise, if we could only convey to the customers that we're Barnes and Noble and not Borders (maybe with a large sign on the front of the building, I'll tell corporate), things would be peachy. Sure, a few of the employees are insane and the kid's lead doesn't like kids, but nowhere is perfect. Better pay would be great, and more hours as well, though I've found that most of my coworkers want part-time hours.
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3.7Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Midwest/Great Lakes Area — 09/07/2009

I have worked at my store for 10 years so I guess I feel it is a good company to make a career with. The pay is low. Even with minimum wage increasing, our starting wage is not. You can make good money if you are hired in as part of the management staff. If you work your way up from the bottom you will never make the same as an outside hire. Some people of here have complained of things being unfair, bullying, etc but the company does provide us with a toll free phone number where you can remain anonymous if you want to roll up concerns or complaints. We don't have to just roll over as some of the postings on here would have lead me to believe otherwise. It is a nice job and in terms or retail it doesn't get any better. But don't work here because you love books, you need to love upselling and member cards.
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3.7Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect3
Benefits2
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth3
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From NY — 08/17/2009

I enjoyed my position as a Merch. Mgr, I earned around $14.50/hr starting salary. The environment of the store is great, most of the booksellers are educated and intelligent, but unfortunately they do not get paid very well (minimum wage mostly). I often felt strange because I am young (23) and just graduated college with a bachelor's, but was supervising people with MS and PhDs who only made minimum wage. There is variation from store to store, I know that many stores have problems because their managers do not function as a team, but at our store we had weekly manager's meetings which kept everyone on the same page and we did store walkthroughs frequently. Manager's have some freedom to customize the store, so policies will vary slightly for better or worse. I personally was able to implement a reward program for the booksellers, a store newsletter, and a few other things I suggested which was very satisfying. Every company has some bogus policies, but at the end of the day you have to realize that it is a bookstore and you can't take everything so seriously or else you make everyone miserable.
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