Lipstick on a Pig

What happens in the Book World impacts my life. I am the author of ten books.  I am also a consumer of books, and read two books a week, often more. I immerse myself in articles and newsletters that focus on the Book World. The recent NYT article Barnes and Noble Sets Itself Free, dated October 17, 2023, is about how Barnes and Noble is re-decorating many of its stores to resemble small independent bookstores. (

It’s ironic that this behemoth chain wants to look more like the small Indie bookstores that it had once been intent on driving out of business.

The NYT article quotes the B&N CEO, James Daunt extensively and the hedge fund that bailed out the corporate chain, as well as their new Indie-looking-facelifts, but overall, the article is nothing more than corporate spin.

Take the Barnes and Noble in Yonkers, New York. I am the author of The Yonkers Trilogy, historical literary fiction that is set in Yonkers. In addition, I also wrote the nonfiction work The Death of a Library: An American Tragedy, which is about the circumstances that led to the razing of the Yonkers Carnegie Library in 1982. (Below is a complete list of my Yonkers books.)

My Yonkers books have been denied a place on the shelf at the B&N Yonkers location. It’s important to note that Barnes and Noble is the only bookstore in Yonkers. My books are of good quality. The Yonkers Public Library has hosted four online author chats for my books. These author chats have been among the library’s most popular author events, and have been attended by the President Emerita of the Yonkers Historical Society as well as the former President of the Yonkers City Council, among other notables.

One bookseller at the Yonkers store, Sandra Guerfi, told me she would be happy to have my books on the shelf, but I would have to get “past corporate.” The problem with my books is they are available via print on demand and do not fit the corporate structure of Barnes and Noble. As a small Indie author, I can’t afford a large print run like HarperCollins or Random House and I can’t absorb the high cost of remainders and returns.

Few books, fiction or nonfiction, have been written about Yonkers or are set in Yonkers. I’ve asked corporate Barnes and Noble to include a few copies of my books on their shelves to better serve the Yonkers community, culturally and historically. I’ve also asked them if they have a section for local authors or local history. To date, Barnes and Noble has not responded to my queries about serving the needs of the Yonkers Community.

I am sure I am not the only Indie author who has been denied access to shelf space at Barnes and Noble. And yes, shelf space is finite, but my Yonkers books are on the shelves at small Indie bookstores such as Texian Books in Victoria, Texas; Third Place Books in Seattle, Washington; and Cloud and Leaf Books in Manzanita, Oregon.

According to the NYT, B&N CEO James Daunt said, “’The new look aims to encourage browsing,’ which Mr. Daunt believes improves customer satisfaction.” Barnes and Noble has denied me and other Indie authors the opportunity for our books to be discovered by the customer who is in the store, simply browsing.

The story pitched and placed in the New York Times* does not address the real issue—Barnes and Noble does not serve its local communities. The Indie-looking-facelifts are a corporate smoke screen—the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Those of us who are in the trenches writing quality books know the difference between real community bookstores and a corporate shell entity. 

*This NYT article instantly generated over 800 comments, which barred me from commenting on the NYT portal. Note that most of the comments are one-liners. A Bot named Kenneth posted eight one-liners in a row.


Research Link: 

NYT article Barnes and Noble Sets Itself Free, dated October 17, 2023

Yonkers Beats: A Discussion Guide 
By Patricia Vaccarino
Publication Date: July 11, 2023 
ISBN: 978-1-7365462-7-7
So Not Yonkers
By Patricia Vaccarino
Modus Operandi Books (New York May 1, 2023)
ISBN Print: 978-1-7365462-3-9
The Heart of Yonkers
By Patricia Vaccarino
Modus Operandi Books (April 2, 2020)
ISBN Print: ‎978-0-9963494-6-8
YONKERS Yonkers!: A Story of Race and Redemption
By Patricia Vaccarino
Modus Operandi Books (March 15, 2018)
ISBN Print 978-0-9963494-1-3
The Death of a Library: An American Tragedy (nonfiction)
Modus Operandi Books (January 2020)
ISBN Print 978-0-9963494-8-2


Patricia Vaccarino

Patricia Vaccarino is an accomplished writer who has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, essays, speeches, web content, marketing collateral, and ten books.

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