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,, 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
Related Articles

AT&T Announces Plans to Buy Time Warner

By: Paula Bernier    10/24/2016

AT&T over the weekend revealed plans to purchase Time Warner Inc. in a deal valued at more than $85 billion, driving down both of their stocks and dra…

Read More

Google Adds CBS to its Unplugged Roster

By: Steve Anderson    10/21/2016

Over-the-top Web-based television seems to be the way of the future, as demonstrated by Netflix, Hulu, and a host of developments to follow, along wit…

Read More

A New Stock Price High for Microsoft?

By: Steve Anderson    10/21/2016

It would be easy to think that Microsoft's stock price glory days were behind it, lost with the dot-com bubble and a little song called "Mambo No. 5."…

Read More

T-Mobile, FCC Reach 10-Figure Settlement Agreement

By: Steve Anderson    10/21/2016

It's a shot in the chops for T-Mobile, as the company recently agreed to a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the matter…

Read More

DDoS Attack Causes Several Site Outages

By: Alicia Young    10/21/2016

This morning, as thousands of people woke up and started their daily routines, they found that it had been disrupted. Those who like to lie in bed scr…

Read More