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Barnes & Noble will close up to a third of its stores over the next decade

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Barnes & Noble (s BKS) plans to close about twenty retail stores a year over the next ten years, the company’s retail CEO Marshall Klipper told the Wall Street Journal. Today, there are 689 Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, plus 674 college stores.

The WSJ notes that “the chain shut an average of about 15 stores a year in the past decade, but until 2009 it also was opening 30 or more a year,” with a peak of 726 stores in 2008. Klipper may have chosen to talk to the WSJ to show investors that the company has a plan. He said that fewer than 20 of the chain’s retail stores are unprofitable, and “we’re going to be around a long time” because consumers read both print and ebooks (this is a point that the company has been pressing for awhile, based on its own research).

Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating noticed that the chain’s store closure plan hasn’t changed and said, “It should be noted that in 2012, Barnes & Noble opened two new prototype stores and in 2013 plans to test several other prototypes, as well. Barnes & Noble has great real estate in prime locations and the company’s management is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term.”

Barnes & Noble is threatened by the shift to online book shopping at Amazon (s AMZN). The company has rolled out a host of Nook e-readers and tablets that face stiff competition in a market dominated by Kindle e-readers and saturated with cheap tablets from Amazon, Google (s GOOG), Apple (s AAPL) and others. Barnes & Noble just delivered a terrible holiday earnings report, showing Nook, and retail sales all down, with a particularly large decline in Nook device sales. The company plans to spin off the Nook and college stores into a separate unit called Nook Media, with Microsoft (s MSFT) and Pearson both holding stakes.

When Borders, then the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain, went bankrupt and liquidated all its stores in 2011, it seemed as if it could be good news for Barnes & Noble, which would have a chance to grab former Borders customers. But it appears that former Borders customers largely switched their book buying over to Amazon (s AMZN).

7 Responses to “Barnes & Noble will close up to a third of its stores over the next decade”


    Buy a book then if you aren’t too poor or cheap to buy one! Why read in a bookstore over a cup of coffee? What’s the matter? ARE YOU POOR?!!!!!

  2. Aziz Akin

    There could be an opportunity for Starbucks to get into the bookseller business, but without actually selling books. Perhaps the model ends up being one where users can read any book for free while they are connected to the Starbucks WiFi. Starbucks can make an arrangement with book publishers to pay a royalty for each such use. A user may have to visit Starbucks ten times to complete reading a book, where the total royalties from such visits can add up to the cost of purchasing the ebook. After the 10 visits the user gets to keep the ebook.

    Considering the number of publishers a better approach may be to enter into an exclusive partnership with Amazon, where Amazon fulfills the the rentals/purchase of this model. At any point the user will have the ability to purchase the ebook for a discount based on the number of visists already made to Starbucks.

  3. Arthur Frank is a formidable competitor. If Barnes & Noble takes them on head tro head, it is a recipe for disaster.The way Barnes & Noble arranges its displays makes it hard to work your way through the stacks. If they grouped ALL mysteruies together, alphabetically, except for new releases, ditto on the other genre as well, it would be a lot friendlier for the browser. As it stands , if you are a reader of C J Box , for example, it is hard to browse and you have to ask at customer service for help.

    New releases should be grouped by genre as well, and after a release period, get moved to the stacks. The markeing model is in danger of not conforming to the changes in the market. Independent booksellers do not have the same premium placement models, which makes it easier for the print version buyers to shop around.Many readers are not lovers of electromic versions, and price is an issue in hard cover volumes. Given the economy, , soft cover trades compete head to head with electronic versions for price and delivery options

    Additionally, Barnes & Noble has a wide variety of NOOK E-readers at all different prices, when the KINDLE has the lions share of the market. Essentia;lly , they are telling tihe reader to buy the Kindle and be done with it. Now if Barmnes & Noble were to offer only one reader, a color medium sized tablet and memory at a reasonable price and clear the deck of the other products, they would increase their market share substantially. it is the biggest bang for the buck theory. Which would you rather have , a color NOOK reasonably priced or a bunch of options on KINDLE?

    It is a shame that Barnes & Noble is considering closing many operations. They are looking at the wrong thing. They should be looking at internal economies of scale, and not the external edifaces.. The easiest way might to be to do a focus group of patrons once a month with patrons. Giving away a bucket of coffee and half pricing the baked goods for the attendees might be a very cheap way to get a handle on the situation.Besides, they can write off the expense and reduce their taxable burden accordingly.

    In addition, the company might survey the proclivity of the patrons , and if la Jolla loves romances, give it to them , and let Kingston have the concentration in Historic fiction if they so desire.Let Chicxago have a concentration of Thrillers if that is their bailywick.Ditto on the author events. Put out one coffee pumper and small cups and see what happens. People go for free stuff, any free stuff. Have the local paper come out to report the event. Take a photo for the article, put somebody’s picture in the p[per.In other words, get creative with the handling of the situation. Brick and Mortar offers a world of physical solutions that the internet cannot.Use them.

  4. I could walk to my local borders and Barnes & Noble and the closest independent bookstore are 35 minutes away. Hence when I used to buy at least one book a week locally, I either wait once every 3 months to go to Politics & Prose or B&N, or I buy from the web (Silver Spring was the 2nd most profitable bookstore in Borders chain, so its depressing that its been replaced by an H&M).

    Books on the Nook are considerably more expensive on the whole than the Kindle, and they still haven’t replicated the browse and find feeling of a good bookstore. Unless they step up their game I’ll have to get an iPad to allow a wider array of ebook options (or stick to ordering over the web from amazon). I don’t mind paying $2 more to keep some competition going (assuming the customer service is there) but $6 and you’re talking a different ball game.

  5. Evad the Slayer

    First we Book Readers watched as B&N and Borders put local book sellers out of business. Now, in just a few years, Borders has vanished and apparently so will B&N. The B&N store I frequent in Murrieta CA is often busy and has a regular set of customers in the coffee shop. It serves as a quiet place for us last remaining Book Readers to get a cup of java and enjoy reading. Once this disappears there will be no alternative except perhaps the library (NO DRINKS ALLOWED) although the local one is nothing more than a free internet provider for lots of teens and folks too cheap or poor to pay for their own. Sad to watch real books vanish only to be replaced by ugly Nooks and Kindles.

    • Taylor Trask

      In many communities, in the ashes of Borders and closed B&N’s – the small, local bookstore is coming back. And it’s leaner, meaner and more engaged. There may not be 4-5 local bookstores like before, but instead 1 really focused one which hyper serves the community.