Contrary to a comment on a previous post, I do not have an axe to grind with Barnes & Noble. As I’ve said before, I want them to succeed because competition is good in the book space, especially the e-book space.

Therefore, I want to point out a good Barnes & Noble idea. Apparently every March for the last nine years, they have run a “Tournament of Books.” I saw a press release about it today and went to check it out.

Lots of companies run bracket-style competitions this time of year, often with a user voting element involved. B&N does theirs a bit differently. They have a judge comment on each book pair and select one as the winner. The judges let loose with their biases, commentary and ultimate decision. I read a couple of them, and they were interesting. I can’t say I agreed with all their reasoning, but they were fun to read. Following the judge’s decision is a “Match Commentary” by the Tournament Chairmen. Those were even more fun to read than the judges’ opinion. The Chairmen didn’t hesitate to take aim and fire when they thought it appropriate.

This is a good idea. It’s engaging and fun. It gives customers a reason to stop by the site regularly, and there’s a darned good reason to buy the books, both winners and losers. Who doesn’t want to see if their opinion about a book matches that of the judge or the chairmen?

However, I indicated in my headline that the implementation is awkward. What did I mean by that? The tournament ends on Friday, and they just sent out a press release today. They should have sent it a few days before the tournament began. Also, I’ve been a B&N customer for years, and this is the first I’ve heard about it.

So, good idea. But promoting it earlier and with more fanfare would turn it into a great idea.