B&N to Offer WiFi

B&N to offer unlimited WiFi to customers, allow vendor choice. [Hat tip to b2-blog.]

This is the type of thing that people will use. There’s certainly a clientele [notably, college students and musicians] that would hang out at a B&N and soak up their WiFi goodness. [If I ever moved to Nashville, that would probably be me, too.] Since it’s not a foot-in-the-door perk but a pay-as-you-go type, it is, as Business 2.0 notes, “a Wi-Fi business plan that makes sense”.



  1. I’d argue the opposite. There is a certain clientele who will idle in a bookstore for a large part of the day. I think that’s the market they’re trying to hit.

    Now, is their price point at the right place? I don’t know. $11/mo. isn’t horrible.

  2. The whole problem with hot-spot WiFi, as much as I love it, is, how much am I willing to pay to get Internet access in a few locations? How badly do I need to get onto the Internet while sitting in this store? I see three viable business models for wifi service: 1. Give it away for free to attract people to a particular restaurant/store/area/mall/park/etc. 2. Pay for access in places you’re “stuck” (airport/hotel). 3. Make it available “everywhere” and charge a pretty penny for it.
    As a business user of the Internet, I like to have access any place I spend much of my time. As a part-time student, I willingly pay a monthly fee (albeit low) to get wifi access all over campus, because I spend hours there each week. I can check my e-mail, IM if the professor really goes off on a tangent, and if a server goes down I can take care of it. But how many hours a month do I spend in a bookstore? I mean, lets say I’m really a book hound and I’m there an hour each week. Why would I pay for Internet access there if I’m shopping for books? The only reason I can think of is the “server goes down” scenario (and not too many folks have jobs like mine). In that case, though, the price in the “stuck” business model has to be pretty low for me to not just get in my car, drive home, and fix the problem from there. Now, if there are two bookstores next door to each other, otherwise comparable in every way, but one has free wireless Internet access and the other doesn’t, well, you know where I’m shopping.
    Okay, now let’s say I’m stuck at an airport for 3 hours. I can’t run home easily, so you can charge me a couple of bucks to be able hop online to fix my crashed server, check e-mail, or whatever. Likewise, the sales guy who flies all over the country regularly will happily pay a monthly fee for access in whatever airport he just happens to be stuck.

    Okay, this has turned into a rant… I don’t think these people are really thinking it through. Until wifi access, through a given service provider, becomes ubiquitous enough that customers don’t have to think about coverage, people aren’t going to pay so many dollars per month just for the ability to sit in a bookstore to check their e-mail. Turn the pricing model on it’s head, charge nothing or very little now when coverage is spotty, then charge more once you can get online from “anywhere” and you’ve got the beginnings of a business plan. (/rant)

  3. Note: I work for B&N, although my position and location won’t ever see WiFi interaction.

    It will work because there are people, mostly students, that visit daily for hours at a time. Indeed, some of them come in several times a day. Many of them carry PDAs and laptops. The price needs to drop and it has to be seamless, but it will work.

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