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B&N to close one-third of its stores in next decade

The Wall Street Journal (via Huffington Post) is reporting that Barnes & Noble has said that it will close about 20 stores a year for the next decade – about one-third of its stores.

Since 2003, the company has shut an average of 15 stores a year – but it also opened more than 30 per year, according to the Journal. Last year, however, the company closed 14 stores and didn’t open any. This year, a prominent Manhattan store has already shut its doors.

Without any new openings, that rate of closure would reduce the total number of Barnes & Noble’s stores by a third – it currently has 689 retail stores, and 674 college stores. Their first store opened in New York City in 1917, and since the closing of Borders in 2011, it is by far the nation’s largest book retailer chain.

Community Comments

#1 Howard Tayler
January/28/2013
@ 10:17 am

Job losses aside, I’m interested to see how the literary ecosystem will respond to a shrinking body of experts in the retail space.

When you want to buy a book, who do you talk to for help making the decision?

What will take the place of walking into a bookstore to browse?

I’m not fearing for the future. I’m actually pretty optimistic, because I don’t think people will love books any less for the loss of brick-and-mortar outlets. I just wonder what that future will look like.

#2 Donald Rex Jr.
January/28/2013
@ 10:32 am

I suggest Public Libraries are a great help!

#3 birdie Birdashaw
January/28/2013
@ 10:54 am

Libraries are a great resource, plus there is a whole social network around books called Good Reads. I use it on my phone occasionally but it gives great reviews and good to search for books on.

#4 David Reddick
January/28/2013
@ 12:41 pm

This saddens me. I foresee a future (and present) where everyone would much rather “lease” books on their tablets or smartphones, than collect or own physical books. Which perplexes me. To me, that’s like really wanting an action figure really really bad, and being satisfied with paying for a photo of it. Reading a book on a digital device is nice, yes, but it’s not a book, that you hold in your hand, smell, feel, put on a shelf and collect and treasure. I bought several comics on Comixology, for example. And then one day, there was a glitch. And I lost them all. some I was able to re-download, but only the freebies. The ones I paid for were lost. And that’s all it takes. A glitch. or lack of electricity. And bammo. Gone. But a book? No electricity and no glitches, short of fire. But this is the age of “I want it now and I refuse to wait for it”, so a quick download is better to most I guess. Sigh.

#5 Naus
January/28/2013
@ 6:39 pm

This reminds me of the time when I walked in the kitchen of a friend who was a painter, and in his kitchen was a 20 year old painting I was familiar with and was actually his friend when he first painted it, and here it was in his kitchen with a big square hole cut into it, it actually shocked me for I actually liked the painting. and I asked the obvious question, what happened to your painting? He just calmly looked at me and said- Art Changes!
so that was my lesson that day, everything changes, so don’t get to sentimental about it. cause theres sure to be something better over the horizon.

#6 Terry LaBan
January/28/2013
@ 7:27 pm

Remember when everyone hated Barnes and Noble because it was a big, corporate conglomerate putting all the independent bookstores out of business?

#7 Donald Rex Jr.
January/28/2013
@ 10:48 pm

It is my my lifelong practice to never by a new book.

#8 Steve Skelton
January/28/2013
@ 10:52 pm

They say the more you read, the better your spelling is, Donald!

#9 Steve Skelton
January/28/2013
@ 10:54 pm

comma overuse included.

#10 Donald Rex Jr.
January/29/2013
@ 12:48 am

In my experience, repetitve proofreading aids spelling. Did your English teacher have a thing about commas too Steve? I would not be so rude as to point out your shakey syntax in a message board post myself.
:~)-)

#11 Mike Peterson
January/29/2013
@ 4:34 am

I suspect there is a big difference between chain stores in the major cities and the branches they open out here in flyover America. I certainly wouldn’t expect knowledgeable help from a clerk at a chain bookstore out here any more than I would expect to discuss Felini with the kid behind the counter at a cinema concessions stand.

Nor is browsing all that rewarding. Specific to this group, the only comic collections are Peanuts, Garfield and the occasional Zits or Foxtrot. And the only graphic novels are Sailor Moon and Marvel. I would say that 90 percent of the graphic novels I’ve bought have been direct from the author or from Amazon because that’s where I could find them.

I remember independent bookstores with knowledgeable help, but they disappeared about the time Amazon came on the scene, not because of Amazon but because of Barnes & Noble and the other chains. So it’s hard to know if I would be happy waiting a week and making a second trip for a book I wanted, but I suspect I would. It was always fun to go hang out, talk books, drink a little (free) coffee.

Those stores I will mourn. Not the McBook stores that killed them.

#12 Stephen Beals
January/29/2013
@ 5:57 am

I agree with David, but I got so frustrated with B&N that I’m not too sad. Like Mike said, they have a whole lot of the same thing. There was never the kind of intimate knowledge or variety that I could find at the library (I worked in libraries for years, so I’m a bit biased).

I’ve been book-obsessed all my life. I’ve scaled down over the years and I’m still surrounded by books. So I’m a little surprised how addicted I’ve become to ebooks. I’ve only used Amazon and iBooks and haven’t lost any purchases. In fact, I’ve downloaded them on multiple devices.

What I really like, as far as comics go, is that I can zoom up on artwork and really appreciate it. Printing restrictions are gone with a good ebook. I have too many bad printings of what should be great books.

One that leaps to mind is the Attitude books Ted Rall recommended to me (on this site, come to think of it). I like NBM, but in the end I think they did a disservice to the great cartoons in that collection with printing that required a magnifying glass.

But I honestly don’t think books are going anywhere. A good, unread paperback is still the greatest thing in the world to me. I think (or maybe hope) that we’ll see the return of more small bookstores that aren’t packed with the obvious bestsellers and have a staff that’s working there because they love books.

#13 Steve Skelton
January/29/2013
@ 11:00 am

Actually, I wrote with comma splices in high school and it just about killed me when I took English 101 in college. And nothing rude about it, Donald. You might just have thin skin.

#14 Donald Rex Jr.
January/29/2013
@ 1:10 pm

Don’t hate me because I express my thoughts clearly. I enjoy commenting, nothing personal. I think thats what message boards are for.

Did they go into sentence structure at all in collage english Steve? See this, to me is a playful exchange; as are all my posts.

#15 Steve Skelton
January/29/2013
@ 1:22 pm

It’s all good Donald! Just couldn’t pass up pointing out irony on a cartooning forum. Didn’t mean to cause trouble.

#16 Gary Brookins
January/29/2013
@ 3:58 pm

Perhaps the folks at B&N are jumping the gun a little? From the Wall Street Journal last week:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323874204578219563353697002.html

#17 Gary Brookins
January/29/2013
@ 4:01 pm

Oh, I should mention that I first read this in the printed WSJ, not online.

#18 Daniel Boris
January/30/2013
@ 12:24 pm

Amazon shall rule the world!

#19 Steve Skelton
January/30/2013
@ 12:43 pm

No bridges cross the Amazon in its entire length. What does that say?

#20 birdie Birdashaw
January/30/2013
@ 4:36 pm

Shouldn’t we be glad that people are still reading? People said TV would Kill Radio, and we have a dying newspaper industry but at least we have books in one form or another.

#21 Mike Peterson
January/31/2013
@ 4:59 am

I wouldn’t use radio as the example of a surviving medium. Movies survived TV, but — apart from NPR — radio in 90 percent of the country has turned into pasteurized corporate rock, idiotic morning zoos, evangelistic pap and right wing rants.

Kind of like chain bookstores where they sell pasteurized corporate best sellers, teddy bears and overpriced coffee.

In fact, just as bookstores declined because of chains, before Amazon and certainly before Kindles, radio declined because of chains before MP3s and streaming audio.

We need to bring back small, dedicated niche bookstores and leave the Harlequins and Tom Clancy crapola to Wal-Mart.

I think radio is beyond repair.

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