From The Wall Street Journal:
In mid-January, Daniel Fidler worked his final day at what was Barnes & Noble Inc. ‘s store in Chestnut Hill, Mass., putting in a few extra weeks stripping out books and bookcases after the store closed at the end of the year.
“I was depressed but I kept a smile on my face because I didn’t want to think about what would happen,” said the 24-year-old, who is still looking for a new job. “We had a party at a restaurant, and everybody who left came back, but it was bittersweet.”
Barnes & Noble is making its last stand in towns just like Chestnut Hill. Its 663 stores still stretch across all 50 states, but there are 63 fewer than five years ago. Stores in Georgetown and the heart of Greenwich Village have closed. Gone, too, is the rambling college store in Manhattan’s Flatiron district that was the sole Barnes & Noble retail property when Leonard Riggio bought that business in 1971.
A franchise built on cappuccino, children’s story time, and tables stacked with the latest from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Doris Kearns Goodwin is retrenching. A shrinking market for print books, competition from Amazon.com Inc., and the costs of investing in its own e-reader and tablets had led to three straight years of losses.
. . . .
Speaking of the consumer stores business that accounts for most of Barnes & Noble’s revenue, Mr. Riggio said in a recent interview, “This is not a growth company.” He is already looking ahead to what he describes as a “really, really critical” Christmas shopping season “in terms of casting a die for the future.”
Barnes & Noble shares dropped 12% on Thursday on news of Mr. Riggio’s sale.
. . . .
The 73-year-old Mr. Riggio remains bullish on the company. In the extended interview a few weeks ago, he said, “In my mind, the story isn’t yet written as to where this is all going. There’s promise to it.” He reiterated that sentiment on Thursday.
But the tide of history may be flowing against the retailer. In recent years the rise of e-commerce has killed some well-known brick-and-mortar stores, including Circuit City and Borders Group Inc.
Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said he is hard-pressed to name any traditional companies selling physical media that have shown revenue growth since consumers warmed to digital books, movies, and music.
“If Barnes & Noble is in its current form by the end of 2015, I’ll be very surprised,” he said.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)