Barnes and Noble Moving Forward with Closings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the trouble facing Barnes and Noble. Not long after that post, the company’s executive, Mitchell Klipper, told the Wall Street Journal that 20 stores will close every year over the next decade. The article points out that since 2003 15 stores per year has closed; however, the company opened more than 30 per year. During the last fiscal year, the company closed 14 stores and didn’t open any.

Without any new openings, the closures would reduce the number of stores by a third. As I’ve said in the previous blog post, all of these closings make it unclear how long Barnes  & Noble will be able to stick around, especially since the sale of print books is rapidly dropping (22 percent over the last five years, according to Nielsen Bookscan).

The irony of all this is that Borders and Barnes & Noble led to the closure of countless community indie bookstores, and now if Barnes & Noble ultimately meets the fate of Borders, then no bookstores will be left.



Some Positive News for Bookstores

The New York Times published an article today with some surprising news regarding bookstores. Their holiday sales have been far better than expected, which could be a sign that bookstores will somehow find a way to survive in the age of the e-reader. According to the article,”Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, said that comparable store sales this Thanksgiving weekend increased 10.9 percent from that period last year. The American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independents, said last week that members saw a sales jump of 16 percent in the week including Thanksgiving, compared with the same period a year ago.”

The article also points out that books still make appealing presents, despite the growth of the e-reader, though it does state Barnes & Noble and Amazon are expected to have enormous sales for new e-readers and tablets.

For me, this article was unexpected good news. I’ve always been a fan of going to a bookstore and browsing for new purchases. I like plucking a book of poetry off the shelf and being able to turn the pages to get a sense of the writer’s style and form. Furthermore, I enjoy the community aspect bookstores hold, how familiar customers often stop at the cafes to chat with each other or read. A lot of my writing in the past has been done at bookstore cafes, and I’d like to see them stick around for the long haul.