Barnes & Noble Slowly Closing a Third of Stores
Bookseller sees declining book, e-book sales
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 28, 2013 8:16 AM CST
This Monday, June 18, 2012, photo shows the Barnes and Noble Booksellers store in Hoover, Ala.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

(Newser) – Faced with declining book sales and fewer mall openings, Barnes & Noble is poised to close about a third of its retail stores over the next 10 years, the CEO of the company's retail group tells the Wall Street Journal. The bookseller is likely to close about 20 stores a year in the coming years, lowering the number from 689 to between 450 and 500 (its 674 college stores are a separate business). Over the past decade, the firm has closed 15 stores a year—but also opened at least 30 each year until 2009.

The company, which opened only two stores this fiscal year, has faced a stream of grim news: The latest holiday revenue was down 11% compared to the previous year; meanwhile, book sales at shops open at least a year are down 3.1%. Last year, print book sales fell 9%. But even e-books are struggling at Barnes & Noble, with Nook holiday sales down from a year before. Still, B&N's Mitchell Klipper is optimistic: The stores are still firmly in the black, earning a pre-tax $317 million in fiscal 2012. And hey, people like bookstores: "When you go to Bed Bath & Beyond, you don't sit down on the floor and curl up with your blender and your kid," Klipper says.

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Showing 3 of 20 comments
Jan 28, 2013 12:44 PM CST
...first it was buttons, then over priced books? Are we in the twilight zone?
Jan 28, 2013 12:38 PM CST
My kids and grandkids were the kind of nerds that hung out at B&N -- even buying a book, now and then :>) Then they got the Nook tablet and saw how badly B&N FUCKS WITH NOOK OWNERS. So, they sold them on eBay, and have NEVER gone back to the store. Customer service is what works........without it, nothing else matters.
Jan 28, 2013 10:44 AM CST
What they need to do is lobby for a special pricing structure on digital media (which is already hugely profitable), based on where it's purchased, and then turn a significant portion of the store into a showcase and reading room for that media. Give people a reason to go to the bookstore instead of hoping people continue to buy books, which isn't going to happen forever. However, they're missing an opportunity in doing what they've previously done with displays and banners -- telling people what to read. They could even go so far as using the stores to start their own publishing house, encouraging authors to come in off the street, having their work reviewed, and getting behind them right then and there, bypassing much of the cost of publishing, going straight to digital, and promoting them in the stores.