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Work 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

3.8Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From White Plains, NY — 07/20/2009

As far as corporate retail/customer service jobs go, B&N #2202 is a pretty great place to work, all things considered. Don't get me wrong, it can get very busy and you will ALWAYS have something you need to be doing. The work itself is often boring, and you get stupid/obnoxious customers just like anywhere else. But the employees and managers are all great and supportive. Most of the people who work there are good friends who hang out outside of work and genuinely try to get to know each other. Employees (and most customers) are intellectual, well-read, and quirky/eccentric - you learn a lot and meet some really interesting people. The employee discount is great, but you end up wanting to buy everything in the store - and at the prices they charge, I would only shop there with my employee discount. I worked on the book floor, but I'm told the music section is a lot more chill and low-pressure, though you don't get the same level of interaction with others that kept me entertained on a daily basis. Pay is slightly more than minimum wage for booksellers, but raises are consistent on a yearly basis. One of the great things about this particular store is that the management is very flexible when it comes to requesting specific days off in a given week and switching shifts with others, provided it works out logistically (e.g. there's at least one head cashier around at all times). Students can also request to work mostly nights or mostly days, depending on their schedules. Overall, the managers are very respectful of the employees and (within reason) totally understanding when extenuating circumstances come up. Surprising, since it's apparently very hard to get a job here! I'm convinced I just got EXTREMELY lucky when they chose me. It's that competitive. Applications are always being accepted (and they get several every day!), so even getting an interview is really a matter of luck - whether your app just happens to be at the top of the pile when they open the drawer.

SO, to sum up: diverse clientele, quirky (but great) co-workers, decent management, flexible scheduling, good job security (you'd have to do something pretty serious to get fired, and they're always willing to re-hire people who have worked there before, including seasonal workers.) The catch is that it's very competitive in terms of hiring, so don't expect to get a call right away even if you have a great resume.
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4.7Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Spokane Valley, WA — 07/02/2009

I have worked at Barnes&Noble for over almost 6 years. Both the managers and my co-workers have been very respectful and helpful.

The medical and dental benefits are good and the managers go out of their way to allow needed time off.

I feel very confident with my job security--Barnes&Noble has been very wise in handling their financial affairs, staying out of debt, etc. so they will not be one of the companies "going under."

As a Children's full-time Lead, I am required to work during "peak" hours, which means I work until 6:30. I would really like to get off earlier, but when you take a retail job that's what you get.

In our store, promotion from within is very common. Right now we have 3 managers who were promoted from within. Our Store Manager is really great about calling in employees and asking about their career goals with the store.

Our store is in a good, well lighted location.

My co-workers are really dedicated to helping the customers and one another. I consider my managers and co-workers my Barnes&Noble family.

The work environment is very pleasant---what could be greater than being surrounded by colorful books? I do get tired of the music sometimes, especially some of the louder selections, but we sell music and I understand we need to play it.

I am paid 11.25 per hour and I get 3 weeks of vacation per year, which I think is very fair. Holiday pay is REALLY good. I love the 30% discount and the 50% in the cafe. I really believe Barnes&Noble is a great company to work for and I am greatful to be an employee.
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4.6Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Chandler, AZ — 04/27/2009

It's retail - so the pay isn't great, but you can make a living wage. The management really works as a team to get employees rallied. The success targets are reasonable and fair. Managers are really honest about employee feedback and those who put in the effort get more hours, more cross-training, more opportunity to grow. The co-workers are the best thing about the job. Working with smart, funny people is much better than the alternative. Best for students/part-timers.
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3.1Rating Details
Category
Pay1
Respect3
Benefits3
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers2
Work Environment4

From Scottsdale, AZ — 11/26/2008

Alright.

Pay: A few dollars above minimum wage. You usually start at 7.25 and work your way up to the princely sum of 7.50. Unless you're a high school kid living with your parents, I don't see how one can survive on that pay. Which brings us to:

Co-workers: A lot of high school kids. Some older people. The high school kids love to hang out and gossip. Some of the older people work hard, but some of them also like to hang out and gossip. The majority of co-workers (young and old) consisted of the laziest people I have ever seen in my entire life. Shelving books is not hard, yet they could not bring themselves to do that. I guess at 7.50 an hour, Barnes & Noble gets what it pays for. A few co-workers were cool people. As mentioned in previous reviews, the good ones (competent and reliable) usually left.

Respect: I never felt respected nor disrespected. Some customers would take pity on me for working there, however, and say, "Don't worry! You'll move on to bigger and better things!"

Benefits: I hear the medical coverage is okay, but I didn't dream of using the little money I earned towards the cost of coverage.

Job Security: Well, they never fired anyone. They would just write someone off the schedule.

Work/Life Balance: I didn't work full-time there, so I can't really comment on that. However, they will constantly call you at your house to cover a shift when the high school kids are a no-show.

Career Potential/Growth: I saw a few people move up the ladder, so it is possible.

Location: A great location in a classy area (although some people don't like the supposed rich snobs of Scottsdale, I never had a problem with them).

Work Environment: It's not bad. The customers are upper-class people, and you always get a healthy dose of muzak.

Just a note: The employee discount on books is 30%. Amazon.com usually gives 30 percent off or more. While working there, I always ordered from Amazon to save money, in order to stretch those 7 dollars I made every hour.
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3.4Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers2
Work Environment3

From Birmingham, AL — 10/15/2008

Employees for the most part were fantastic. I don't know why we ever hired older people, they were always too slow to keep up or too pained to actually work. Couldn't stand the clientele we had.
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3.4Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect2
Benefits4
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth2
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment4

From Atlanta, GA — 09/29/2008

Pay: As a Head Cashier, formerly a Bookseller at the customer service desk, I have a lot of responsibilities. I have to sell, sell, sell: everything from memberships, eco bags, book fair sales drives, gift cards...if it isn't bolted down it is probably for sale. And all for less than $15,000 a year!! Doesn't it sound like a great deal??

Respect: Other co-workers are in the same boat as you and are mostly great people with tons of potential, and most likely, have other jobs or other things going on outside of work. Management though is another matter. They are most likely less talented and intelligent than about 80% of the part time booksellers. And they don't have to face the same consequences as booksellers either so don't think they will likely be reprimanded or be encouraged to alter their bad behavior. You'll be OK if this job is not your only income or if you don't really care what anybody thinks or how they treat you.

Benefits: Pretty good benefits for a retail establishment but might be outweighed depending on the frustrations you face in an average day from management and corporate side of things.

Job Security: You can be replaced very easily (and this isn't a hidden fact at all) but if you show up and do an average job, you aren't likely to be fired or laid off unless your store doesn't make money or is overstaffed.

Work/Life balance: You don't have to take any work home with you: awesome!

Career growth: Better if you are coming in from outside of B&N than if you are coming up from the inside. Movement is very slow and pay is not very conducive to excitement in moving up.

Co-worker competence: You will likely have brilliant co-workers but watch out for management: I don't know how it can be so lopsided except that most intelligent people don't work in retail for more than a few years.

Work environment: Decent for retail dependent on management team and customers. Mostly good. Don't expect to be able to depend on rules staying the same for long or their being any way to know when or how they will change. Don't get too attached to anything because it will then probably change within a minute/hour/week/month or two!!
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3.4Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect3
Benefits4
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment4

From Virginia — 07/10/2008

I've worked at several B&Ns over several years. Like most businesses with many units, LOCATION is important -- some stores are just poorly run, others are great. The management team and COWORKERS make or break the deal.

PAY: On the surface, not the best, although it's comparable to other retailers. The detail is, 40 hour work week. Yes, the hours can be stupid, and often I wish for a "normal" routine. But, for example, my brother makes 50% more on his paycheck than I do, yet because he works 60-65 hours a week, we're paid the same mean hourly wage. Money isn't everything.

RESPECT: From peers? Depends on store, like I said. Most coworkers always assume you are getting paid like a king and are doing half of their job, which isn't true. Unfortunately, at the moment, I'm working for a District Manager who thinks all of her employees are dirt, but this wasn't the case in other states. Respect from customers is nil. It's appalling how rude they are are about buying a book.

BENEFITS: Pretty good for singles, a bit expensive for families. Decent health, good dental, eye exams for $10 and discounts on glasses, 401K, paid vacations. Minimum input per week to get most of these is 20 hours. I've had fine experiences with all the benefits systems.

JOB SECURITY: The world will always need clerks. Enough said.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Okay, I sometimes want every weekend off, but having flexibility is best.

LOCATION: Is everything. Plenty of transfer possibilities, however, you have to be careful if moving because pay is based on the market and store rating, and of course, you might end up with a District or Store Manager who's an idiot.

CAREER POTENTIAL/GROWTH: Let's face it, retail will never be easy or highly paid. If you want to be a manager, you have to prove yourself. Sure there is a personal aspect -- if your Store Manager doesn't like you, good luck. But in my experience, good employees are often approached about promotions.

CO-WORKER COMPETENCE: As with Managers, it varies by store. The training program is passable for anyone with average intelligence, yet many struggle with the basics. Like ringing a register. These are the types who then complain they're not paid $50K for standing around and whining for eight hours. Generally, most of the B&N employees are smart, fun and have a good attitude, considering how much abuse they get from the customers. They respect each other, even if the District Manager and Joe/Jane Public treats them like stupid peons.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: The company sets up for success, but with customers behaving as if the employees are janitors, free babysitters and verbal punching bags, it's difficult. The structure is there, however the results aren't always good. Fortunately plenty of joking coworkers, books and half price coffee is available to help soothe the rough times.

Overall a decent company that tries hard and is tripped up by dirty, rude customers, employees who think they're worth $15 an hour and that getting hired means they can slack and moan while letting 50% of the staff do all the work, and a society which apparently believes anyone who is employed outside an office doesn't have a "real" job.
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3.4Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect4
Benefits2
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers3
Work Environment4

From Seattle WA — 05/14/2008

The only thing I would say here is that I took a B&N job with the expectation that I would be spending time with other cool people who love books. But in the 3 months I was there, I wasn't able to get to know anyone because breaks are so short & are scheduled when your other coworkers are not on break. I guess this was important in retail, but the fantasy I had about working with other bibliophiles was crushed pretty quickly.
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3.8Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect3
Benefits4
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From texas — 05/01/2008

Pay pretty much sux but it's a fun job. Yes, you have to work hard. And nights and weekends. But coworkers make it fun. I was hired pt time and made mgr within a year. They promote from within. If you are smart and you perform, you will be recognized. This is not the company for you if you want to get rich. But if you want a challenging, fast-paced job that you can leave behind after you work 8 or 9 hrs and not stress about on your off time, do it!
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3.2Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect2
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth3
Location5
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Walnut Creek, CA — 12/20/2007

I worked at this bookstore for 5 years, full-time at first then part-time. In the beginning the store had great managers, passionate about books and good at motivating us (even during the crazy time of christmas!). I loved the people I was working with. You can meet all sorts of people working at bookstores (retired engineers, lawyers, artists, housewives, students, philosophers, ...) and if anything makes it worth the time, it's that. During my 2nd year there Barnes & Noble seemed to change it's management strategies. Instead of promoting some of their own people, they started hiring outside managers - some of them were proud to announce that they had never read a book in their life (besides the phone book)! Everything started to go downhill from there. Some of the older, long-time employees suddenly had to work late-night shifts and it almost seemed like they tried to get rid of them. Everything became stricter and if you consider that they pay pretty much minimum pay there wasn't much of an incentive for people to stay. It was convenient for me as a student since they let me work flexible hours but a lot of other people left.
I have good and bad memories but what stays is the good friends I made there. This isn't anything that Barnes & Noble could claim in their credit of course. The only good thing about this company are the books and the great people that it attracts (even though B & N doesn't deserve them).
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