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

Two Technologies That Showcase Good VR Could Cost $20K

By: Rob Enderle    6/23/2017

This month, there were two interesting product announcements. The first was in regard to very high-resolution displays that should arrive in VR headse…

Read More

Popularity of Voice Recognition Gadgets Highlights Need for Speech Analytics

By: Kayla Matthews    6/21/2017

Voice-activated personal assistant platforms such as Amazon's Alexa continue to grow in popularity, making lives easier in all sorts of ways. As such …

Read More

Can Machine Learning Defuse the Ticking Time Bomb of Open Recalls?

By: Special Guest    6/20/2017

Did you know that 150 million vehicles have been recalled in the USA since 2014? That's 38 percent of all the cars in America. And, according to Recal…

Read More

Technology and Ties: 5 Reasons Gen X is Taking Over in Business

By: Special Guest    6/20/2017

The generational clash in the workplace between Millennials and Baby Boomers gets all the hype. It reminds me of the debate over who would win - Muham…

Read More

For Amazon-Whole Foods' Future, Look to Zappos, Not Robots

By: Doug Mohney    6/19/2017

Amazon's bid for Whole Foods is obvious and brilliant. There's a lot of crazy talk about how Whole Foods will get turned into people-less stores like …

Read More