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B&N Aims To Whittle Its Stores For Years

28 January 2013

By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG

Barnes & Noble Inc. BKS +0.08% expects to close as many as a third of its retail stores over the next decade, the bookseller’s top store executive said, offering the most detailed picture yet of the company’s plans for the outlets.

“In 10 years we’ll have 450 to 500 stores,” said Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble’s retail group, in an interview last week. The company operated 689 retail stores as of Jan. 23, along with a separate chain of 674 college stores.

Mr. Klipper said his forecast assumes that the company will close about 20 stores a year over the period.

Read it all Wall Street Journal

Guest posted by Barbara Morgenroth

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20 Comments to “B&N Aims To Whittle Its Stores For Years”

  1. I think that’s optimistic. I suspect they will close faster. Abit sad, but true.

    Closing stores will lead people to e-books. Just last week a co-worker of mine, who is a voracious reader and an author, was upset because there is now only one B&N in the entire City of San Francisco. He’s having trouble finding books.

    I showed him my Kindle app on my I-phone, and he went off to check out e-books.

  2. Now if THAT doesn’t attract quality employees, I don’t know what will.

  3. I think they’ll open small locations with maybe four hundred titles (top 10 books in 40 different genres)each, possibly concentrating on franchising with a coffee or tea shop. Put them in airports and by train and subway stations.
    If they have a smaller offering, plus bring in local authors for readings and talks, plus an expresso machine to print on demand the books that aren’t in stock, they could come up with a model that works.

    • I agree with you here. I think we will see smaller book stores (be them chain or indie), and I think those stores will make a market by catering to a small niche of readers, and becoming a trusted voice with those readers.

  4. Once you push the first one, you can’t control how fast the dominos fall.

    I think the market will control the speed of store closures, not the will of B&N’s CEO.

    They need to rethink the whole consept of what a bookstore should be, but they may be too entrenched to do so.

    • Maybe going back to being a bookstore that focuses on selling, you know, books would be a start. Fewer tchotchkes, Godiva chocolates and educational toys; more books.

      • Maybe — and yet, what’s making them the best margin? Maybe all those non-books are subsidizing the books, really and truly, and not just being futile attempts to bring in more people/cash.

        We can speculate, but do we have any data on what’s paying the rent on the brick and mortar?

    • @ Randall – good point. Ultimately, this really isn’t in their control.

  5. I used to be a huge B&N fangirl, back when they were the first major bookstore in my area and I wanted to go there constantly. Back when they actually served my needs as a reader.

    At this point, however, I am actually looking forward to them going under. I hope that a lot of the stuffy, old fashioned indie bookstores in the ABA who can’t see the forest for the trees go under as well. The lingering anguished death throes of these places are just annoying. And their continued presence makes it harder for people with new ideas and a willingness to embrace new technologies to get into the market. My husband and I were just discussing last night the kind of cool bookstores we could theoretically have if only the old guard would finally give up and die off.

    This might sound callous, but these stores haven’t been serving my needs as a customer for a long time now. As a reader, I just want them to move over so someone else who IS willing to serve my needs can step in.

  6. I found this from the original article to be quite interesting:

    Bertelsmann SE & Co.’s Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books, says e-books now make up about 22% of its global sales, up from almost nothing five years ago. The head of a major publishing rival says he expects e-books will be as much as 50% of his total book sales in the U.S. by the end of 2014. Digital books already account for 60% of this publisher’s sales of new commercial fiction, a key category for the nation’s largest bookstore chain.

  7. Head of collapsing business has brilliant plan: let’s collapse slower! No details yet, but experts speculate that the collapse will be slowed by moving to a lower-gravity environment. Film at 11.

    • Given the B&N history of trying to sell itself, it’s possible he may be using the time to make the package more attractive to a buyer.

      • What time? As far as I can tell, he’s just assuming that he has the time. The market will act at its own speed, and in all the failures of retail chains I have ever observed, I haven’t known one to go that gradually once it had got this far.

  8. My local B&N is the only bookstore for miles. The indies and small shops are gone. The other chains are gone. The mall shops, likewise. The boutique and used shops have closed. I’m just wondering where/who the booksellers will be when B&N closes the Schaumburg half-books, half-junkandtoys store.

  9. I think B&N is doing about the best they can. They might be a big sluggish corp, but they (should) have good information on which of their stores is making money. I don’t agree with their overall corporate strategy, but a controlled shrinking is the best they could hope for.

    B&N is a big box store competing with the unlimited shelves of online retailers (including their own). There will always be a demand for paper books and a store that carries every topic and genre, just not outside of high population areas.

  10. As an author that did two signings this past holiday season at Barnes & Noble (and sold over 50 books at each one-I might proudly add) there wasn’t a time in the stores that they didn’t have a line at least 30 people long. I agree ebooks are growing in sales, but based on what I saw, I cannot believe that their isn’t a need for bookstores and actual books.

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