Barnes & Noble writes a new chapter

Barnes & Noble at Irvine Spectrum Center is making it cool to buy books again.

Next month, the 30,000-square-foot bookstore will undergo a total top-to-bottom makeover, including a fresh look in the café.

“When customers walk in, it will feel like a brand-new store,” says Barnes & Noble Senior Director of Store Planning and Design Janine Flanigan.

The popular bookstore is one of Spectrum Center’s original merchants that opened in 1995 and later expanded to two floors in 2002.

“The Spectrum is a fantastic store for us,” Flanigan says. “It’s our top performer in the region, which speaks to the community of Irvine and the Spectrum Center itself.”

Renovations should finish in April with more changes coming this fall.

A new approach

As part of a 2019 companywide turnaround launched by CEO James Daunt, each Barnes & Noble store now has discretion to act as an independent bookseller.

So what you’ll find at the Spectrum store differs from what you’ll find at other stores.

Because Irvine is home to many families, you’ll find a larger-than-usual children’s section. Because the city is home to so many high-tech businesses, you’ll find stacks of books on artificial intelligence. And because the Spectrum attracts so many teens, you’ll find sections dedicated to their interests, as well.

It’s not just about book genres, however. It’s about how the books are displayed.

Popular books have been pulled from the stacks, where all you could see was the spine, and displayed on large tables, surrounded by books of similar interest.

Interested in the “Wings of Fire” dragon fantasy series? Next to them, you’ll find “Percy Jackson & the Olympians,” which blends Greek mythology with modern-day characters. Interested in “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann? You may like his latest true tale about a mysterious 1700s’ shipwreck with mutiny and murder. And so on.

As Daunt himself recently told The Wall Street Journal: “We’re here to help people browse.”

More changes to come

This fall, the bookseller will install all new bookshelves and arrange them to form several “book rooms,” each filled with its own genre.

“They’re just these cozy little rooms,” says assistant store manager Melinda Hagman. “Instead of aisles of books, you can see the entire section all at once – with displays in the middle.”

They’ll add easy chairs throughout the store, too.

In the meantime, you can join one of the store’s three book clubs, which cover contemporary romance, horror and “romantasy,” a blend of romance and fantasy. Or bring the kids to a Wednesday morning story time. Or hear an author’s talk, set to resume once renovations are done.

“We have a romance writer confirmed in a few months,” Hagman says. “We can’t say who yet – but that’s going to be huge!”

Hot sellers at Barnes & Noble

NONFICTION: “The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder,” by David Grann, author of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.” New York Times bestseller.

BUSINESS: “Atomic Habits,” by James Clear. Nonfiction that describes how to improve your life by breaking bad habits. New York Times bestseller.

FANTASY: “The Flames of Hope,” by Tui T. Sutherland. From the “Wings of Fire” series, of which over 14 million copies have been sold. New York Times bestseller.

KIDS: “Dog Man,” by Dav Pilkey. Series of illustrated, award-winning books for children, to be made into a film in 2025. New York Times bestseller.