With Borders on its way out, the Alabama-based Books-A-Million has taken its place the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States. Now it’s closing four of its 232 stores, and its net sales were down 11.2 percent in the first half of this year–though its sales of Barnes & Noble’s Nook (which, oddly, it sells) helped a bit.
Books-A-Million is trying to send a message that its problems aren’t as extensive as a other bookstore chain’s. Signs on the affected stores read, “STORE CLOSING. This location only.”
In its most recent earnings report, Books-A-Million said that its net sales were down 11.4 percent for the second quarter of the year, to $106.4 million, compared to $120 million for the same period last year. Comparable store sales were down 12.9 percent compared to last year. For the first half of the year, net sales were down 11.2 percent, to $210.4 million, compared to $237 million for the same period last year. Comparable store sales were down 13.1 percent, compared with the same period last year. In its SEC filing (PDF), Books-A-Million attributed the declines in comparable store sales to “a weak bestseller publishing lineup compared to the prior year and the increasing transition of certain book categories to an electronic format.” CEO Clyde Anderson expanded on this in a statement: ” A soft publishing lineup, the effect of e-book migration and the impact of Border’s liquidation all contributed to the decline in comparable store sales.”
Since last fall, Books-A-Million has carried Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the sales of which helped its electronic commerce trade segment see a 24.3 percent increase in net sales for the quarter.
Books-A-Million is buying the leases of 14 Borders stores for $934,000, including stores in Maine, Connecticut and Iowa, where it will be staking out a presence for the first time. Its earlier bid to buy 35 Borders stores fell through.