A few words on the subject from someone who once owned and operated a bookstore in Los Angeles.
Yes ... there are some rules bookstores should follow if they wish to survive, especially chain stores:
1. Sell Coffee and other refreshments. Obviously.
2. Offer a place for your patrons to sit and read. Obviously.
3. Hold writing workshops for struggling authors.
4. Hold publishing workshops for struggling authors.
5. Hold editing workshops for struggling authors.
6. Bookstores need to STOP selling back large quantities of merchandise to the publishers. Hold larger book sales with worthwhile events and be more mindful when ordering copies. Carry less stock of the same item. No one needs 1000 copies of 'The Girl that Did Such and Such.'
7. Do everything they can to support writers instead of just cashing in on them. Stop raping the patrons over price as well. No one is paying $27.00 for a hardback anymore, excepts possibly friends and family of the authors themselves. Even avid readers buy them on sale. Publisher's need to accept the fact that certain price points are too high and bordering on robbery. Basing pricing on old, outdated myths has clearly been an iceberg.
8. Stop giving exclusivity to specific publishers and blocking others. It becomes obvious that a backroom deal was made for the shelfspace, when all the titles on the 'magic tables' are all by three publishers. Excluding independent publishers from the best locations in the store is a sin. Denying that such a partnership exists is also doubling down on said sin.
9. Be more community oriented. This is the sole reason why independent bookstores are beloved by patrons. If the chain stores took this approach, they wouldn't be suffering as bad.
10. Stop requiring a mountain of paperwork that would rival an SBA Loan just to ask to have a book signing or book reading event at the store. Requiring authors put forward a marketing plan, sales data, fill out a lengthy application and then having to wait six months for an answer is egregious and bad business. Barnes & Noble thrives on subjecting authors to this and often will only deal with Authors through Publishing Houses that they have deals with as mentioned in point 8.
Sad and true.