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Another Bay Area Barnes & Noble bites the dust

7 December 2017

From The Mercury News:

First, it was the Borders in Milpitas on Ginny Cox’s way home. Now her neighborhood Barnes & Noble is going out of business in San Jose’s Eastridge Mall.

What’s a local bibliophile like Cox to do?

“I’m devastated — books are my passion,’’ Cox said, standing beside a table piled with new titles, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s “The Book of Joe,’’ which is on her list.

“This is so convenient for me — it’s less than five miles from my house,’’ she explained sadly, as if watching a dream die.

The 27,700 square-foot Barnes & Noble store is closing its doors Jan. 11 after a going-out-of-business clearance sale that coincides with the holidays. It’s the latest casualty of the brick-and-mortar book store chain, joining Barnes & Nobles in Pleasant Hill, West San Jose and Fremont, among other Bay Area cities, in recent years. Ironically, a change.org online petition is now circulating to save the East San Jose behemoth bookseller.

Link to the rest at The Mercury News

For the benefit of TPV visitors who are not familiar with East Bay/Silicon Valley suburbs of San Francisco, the locations where Barnes & Noble has closed/is closing are full of people with the financial resources to buy books and the demographic predilection to be avid readers.

Here’s what Zillow says about home prices in San Jose:

The median home value in San Jose is $934,000. San Jose home values have gone up 11.3% over the past year.

And Fremont:

The median home value in Fremont is $967,100. Fremont home values have gone up 6.4% over the past year.

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9 Comments to “Another Bay Area Barnes & Noble bites the dust”

  1. Just FYI: starting up TPV made something (the link?) activate and start some TV program talking (started with B&N, kept going on and on), and it took me 10 min. and closing all my tabs of both browsers to figure it out.

    I am NOT fond of things that launch into movement or sound – my brain stops what it’s doing to look/listen.

    I did not click on the link – was actually somewhere else doing something else when voices ambushed.

    And I can’t get it to stop!

    That was confusing. It was the next post, not the one I thought I was reading.

    I failed the IQ/modern technology quiz.

  2. Someone should tell Ginny Cox about Amazon.

    • Surely she will do anything it takes to continue reading poignant, insightful literature from the likes of Joe Biden?

  3. The San Jose metropolitan area clocks in at around 1.6 million people who are in the main very well educated and capable. That B&N can’t cover the rent while drawing on this demographic is… sad.

    • Well, San Jose is chock full of techies.
      Most of them can do math and are not afraid of the internet. Plus traffic in the area was pretty bad last time I went there. Perhaps not quite NYC/DC/LA bad but enough to make people want to minimize driving.

      All those are things that reduce the appeal of a B&N store. I suspect Amazon has a lot of Prime subscribers there, though.

    • Anecdata suggests that not everyone has the extra funds to buy from B&N or other places. A friend of mine moved to San Jose two years ago from New York City. She and her wife had trouble finding a place they could afford, and she commutes daily to San Fran. Her wife has a job on the faculty of the university, and they are still having to scrimp and scrape a bit. For someone from New York City to mutter about the cost of living suggests that it’s a little high.

  4. B&N probably over-expanded during the big box boom, and certainly oversized themselves (books don’t need to be warehoused like refrigerators or flat screen TVs). A lot of what’s happening with the shrinkage is necessary course-correction. Much the same thing is happening with malls.

    It reflects a certain increase in online shopping, but that’s far from the whole explanation, especially given that independent bookstore openings are actually up. I believe that is true even in this area of the Bay, although I personally would anticipate that this population is disproportionately inclined to read digitally, compared to the rest of the country, it being Silicon Valley.

    My hope is that once B&N’s locations have been whittled to a more reasonable number, the chain will become healthier, although I wouldn’t be immensely surprised if it gives way to both Amazon AND the independent bookstore resurgence.

    • The number of surviving locations will depend on sizing and location. There’s only so many areas that can provide the customer base for those big stores in the face of online and digital. Losing the bulk of the genre markets is killing them.

      If they don’t let go of the warehouse model on time they may not survive at all.

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