Barnes & Noble Downsizes, but Not Down and Out

By Braden Becker January 28, 2013

Two years ago, Barnes & Noble bought the controlling stake of Borders, and most of the industry surely assumed it was just a win by one firm over another. But more recent movements in this retail market suggest it was rather more decisive evidence that the hardcopy book business at large is struggling to withstand the currents of a digital age that’s only getting stronger – a win by one industry over another.

The last nail in the coffin may have come this week, as Barnes & Noble announced its plans to close up to a third of its chain over the next decade, or up to 20 stores a year, according to CEO Mitchell Klipper.

It’s no surprise that the smartphone arms race has made room for a breadth of opportunity in mobile programming, let alone the reality that book stores of late couldn’t be fewer and farther between. With Barnes & Noble shrinking, one must wonder where the company’s adaptations faltered, and where it sees itself in the foreseeable future.

Said Klipper to the Wall Street Journal, "In 10 years we'll have 450 to 500 stores” – a number he said is still “a good business model.”


Image via Shutterstock

“Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves," he said.

Though obviously partial to maintaining relevance in the company, Klipper’s vision isn’t without support. “More and more [bookstores] are turning over,” echoed David Johnson, CEO at Strategic Vision, LLC. Barnes & Noble sees that not as a death warrant, but simply a new climate in the industry.

Though the retailer didn’t enjoy as big a profit from its Nook tablet against pieces like Amazon’s Kindle, it maintains that its continued success hinges on an e-marketplace, barnesandnoble.com, which counterbalances an always necessary physical presence in the community.

 “There’s still a demand for hard books,” said Johnson, clarifying that authors and publishing houses see an anchor for branding their work in physical facilities, through book signings and similar events not available digitally.

“The right fiscal move is to have a bigger presence online,” he said, “but you still need both.”

Barnes & Noble saw a small boost upon Borders’ liquidation in 2011, but incurred a 10.9-percent decrease in sales over the following holiday season. Its projected reductions reflect a need to be smarter with its assets, but it is nonetheless a precedent for how a business can manage on a playing field that caters to an edgier campaign.




Edited by Brooke Neuman
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Wearable Trackers Are Not a Passing Fad

By: Stefania Viscusi    3/24/2017

Wearable fitness trackers are growing in popularity with no slowing for the market in site. Updating those gadgets with fashionable accessories is an …

Read More

Samsung's Bixby Assistant and Apple's AR Plans Bode Well for AI

By: Laura Stotler    3/24/2017

Samsung's announcement of its new Bixby virtual assistant on the Galaxy S8 phone and Apple's augmented reality (AR) development plans point to excitin…

Read More

What is IBM Watson Adding to the Practice of IT?

By: Doug Mohney    3/23/2017

I have seen the future of IT, but have yet to fully understand it. IBM's Watson cognitive computing push is going to drastically reshape how IT is run…

Read More

API Management Poised for Big Growth

By: Paula Bernier    3/22/2017

The API management market is forecast to be worth $2.665 billion by 2021, according to MarketsandMarkets. That's up from more than $606 million last y…

Read More

IBM Watson Aims to Improve Call Center, IVR CX

By: Paula Bernier    3/22/2017

At its IBM Interconnect event today, the tech giant is introducing the IBM Watson Voice Gateway. It can act as a cognitive self-service agent, directl…

Read More