Photo: Flickr / Allen Burt
Barnes & Noble plans to shut down as many as a third of its retail stores over the next 10 years, Jeffrey A Trachtenberg at The Wall Street Journal reported.”In 10 years we’ll have 450 to 500 stores,” Mitchell Klipper, the head of Barnes & Noble’s retail group, told The WSJ.
Right now, Barnes & Noble operates nearly 700 retail stores under the brand.
What led to the downfall of Barnes & Noble’s brick-and-mortar business?
It’s not about e-books, argued Dennis Johnson, founder of MobyLives and co-founder of Melville House.
“The demise of B&N has nothing to do with what its customers actually wanted, what’s best for mother literature or free speech, or anything other than made-up trends covering for killer capitalism,” he wrote.
It’s because of what happened back in the 1990s. Barnes & Noble used its muscle to strong arm the nation’s independent booksellers by undercutting prices and opening stores all over the place. It “poisoned the well” and eventually the Barnes & Noble stores themselves died too.
“In short, B&N’s scorched earth policy of the 1990s has ultimately left us with, well, scorched earth,” wrote Johnson.
Here’s a statement from Barnes & Noble’s spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating:
“Barnes & Noble has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever. The Wall Street Journal article implies that our rate of store closures has changed. We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the past 10 years. Of that number some of the stores are unprofitable while others are relocations to better properties. The numbers reported today by the Wall Street Journal are consistent with analysts’ expectations. It should be noted that in 2012, Barnes & Noble opened two new prototype stores and in 2013 plans to test several other prototypes, as well. Barnes & Noble has great real estate in prime locations and the Company’s management is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term.”
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