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Thread: B&N to Close Retail Stores

  1. #1
    Weirdo. ios's Avatar
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    B&N to Close Retail Stores



    Found the link on KB's Writer's Cafe. According to the actual WSJ article, B&N expects to close "as many as a third of its retail stores over the next decade" at a rate of about 20 stores per year. It expects to have about 450 to 500 stores at that point.

    What do you think this means to writers and to the publishers with books at B&N? A narrower selection of only the most popular books? Or will it become more like Walmart, each store customized to the locals' buying preferences?

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  2. #2
    storm central stormie's Avatar
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    I thought I heard that on the radio last night (I listen to the news when I can't sleep). I really hope they don't close the one near me. My older son hates to shop but whenever I go to the mall, he makes a beeline to the B&N. He needs to hold a book in his hands and look through it, since he's very visual. He could spend hours there, and has. But he only buys one book, since it's not as affordable for him.

    I think the tides are turning toward ebooks. I'm one of those who is a recent convert. My library (thankfully because their non-fiction section is practically non-existent) belongs to elibrary and I love that I can browse books late at night, download, and be reading in under a minute. I also like going on Amazon and seeing all the books and many priced reasonably and for me, affordable.

    As a writer though, I'm seeing print magazines that I have been published in, fold and die or go the emagazine route. The pay many times isn't what it was for print magazines either. And with print books, if people aren't going to brick and mortar stores as they used to, then the old "book facing front" isn't going to matter. Who's there to buy it? But on Amazon, a book, whether print or ebook, can get more exposure if more people are turning toward the Internet.

    JMHO

  3. #3
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    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Why? Because they were almost as unprepared for the changing markets as Borders was. I like B&N. There's a good one at a mall not far from me, but the store will probably be on the chopping block. The last few times I tried to buy something other than a blank journal or a craft magazine there, it was not in the store, or not placed on hold and I had to find it myself. This last May they ordered 3 paperback copies of a fellow sf&f author's new book - AFAIK, they haven't ordered more, yet I know she's selling well at their nearest indie competitor.

    I'm giving up my fantasy of having a book signing there, because by the time I publish anything I could sign in public, the local B&S will probably be a clothing store.
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  5. #5
    Weirdo. ios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stormie View Post
    I really hope they don't close the one near me. My older son hates to shop but whenever I go to the mall, he makes a beeline to the B&N. He needs to hold a book in his hands and look through it, since he's very visual. He could spend hours there, and has. But he only buys one book, since it's not as affordable for him.
    Ditto on my nearest (which is 60 miles away). Though I am starting to prefer the used bookstores to it because of diversity of book options, I still can't resist spending an hour or two in the B&N. I don't want to see it go, but I want to see it work again, like back in the 90s when I used to emerge with about 7 full-priced (not bargain bin) books every time I went there (about 3 to 4 times a year). Now, most of my books are bargain bin books and we are likely cutting down to once a year. Even so, I still buy books online from its site, and I still maintain my membership card.

    In the PV article, some commenter mentioned espresso book machines. That would be awesome and likely a store saver. If B&N wants to just keep just the most popular books on the shelves and have its cafe as the main setup, then it needs something to print a book right then and there. Something faster than ordering by mail.

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  6. #6
    Follow your heart; take your brain SelmaW's Avatar
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    Such a bummer, but not unforeseen. I know there must be reasons that they're doing it, but as an outside observer, I can't figure out why they're taking the Borders route and adding tons of toys and crap when that clearly didn't work out for Borders.

    Hopefully we'll see a surge in indie bookstores as B&Ns dwindle.

  7. #7
    Have Harp Will Travel JSSchley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ios View Post
    In the PV article, some commenter mentioned espresso book machines. That would be awesome and likely a store saver. If B&N wants to just keep just the most popular books on the shelves and have its cafe as the main setup, then it needs something to print a book right then and there. Something faster than ordering by mail.
    I second this heartily, and I work P/T for B&N. The thing where bricks-and-mortar KILL Amazon is the "right now" aspect. And people are usually willing to pay more to have the book in their hands right this minute. (I had one annoying customer who insisted he'd order from Amazon even though he was a B&N member, and I could've had the book on its way to him with the same express shipping, same price, and for free shipping just like his Amazon Prime...but fortunately, he's the exception and not the rule.)

    The more the bricks and mortar stores can do what they're best at, the better.

    Quote Originally Posted by SelmaW
    I know there must be reasons that they're doing it, but as an outside observer, I can't figure out why they're taking the Borders route and adding tons of toys and crap when that clearly didn't work out for Borders.
    Profit margin, I'm pretty sure. The profit margin on books and DVDs is pretty small. Toys have something more like 100-200% profit margin (though don't quote me on that). Sell less, make more.

    However, I'm kind of glad to hear they're thinking of a strategic reduction in stores rather than just chugging along until they have to file for bankruptcy. What is the saying? Realizing you have a problem is the first step? I know the store I work at will be one of the ones shuttered--there's a rail line coming through behind the strip mall we're in, and they're going to change the nature of the stores that are there once that becomes a major commuter hub. So we'll be open maybe 2-3 more years, I would imagine.

  8. #8
    resident curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by ios View Post

    Found the link on KB's Writer's Cafe. According to the actual WSJ article, B&N expects to close "as many as a third of its retail stores over the next decade" at a rate of about 20 stores per year. It expects to have about 450 to 500 stores at that point.

    What do you think this means to writers and to the publishers with books at B&N? A narrower selection of only the most popular books? Or will it become more like Walmart, each store customized to the locals' buying preferences?

    Jodi
    I don't think it matters at all to writers or publishers. Fewer stores does not mean a narrower selection, only fewer places for readers to go buy books from a brick and mortar store.

    I go to several B&Ns, and if there's much of a difference in selection, I can't see it.

    Over the next decade, more and more readers are expected to buy books online, rather than going to a brick and mortar retailer. Where readers buy is the change, not what they buy, or how large the selections is.

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SelmaW View Post
    Hopefully we'll see a surge in indie bookstores as B&Ns dwindle.
    I hope you're right, but most of the indie bookstores have vanished as well. The entire distribution system for books is changing, and brick and mortar stores are just one of the casualties.

  10. #10
    Follow your heart; take your brain SelmaW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WriterBN View Post
    I hope you're right, but most of the indie bookstores have vanished as well. The entire distribution system for books is changing, and brick and mortar stores are just one of the casualties.
    This is definitely true, but at the same time, I think there's still a place in the market for physical bookstores. Lots of people still like bound books, and everyone likes instant gratification.

    The market share of bookstores is no doubt going to be reduced. I'm not sure that B&N can survive that kind of radical shift in their business plan, which makes me think that smaller and more adaptable indies are going to slowly take their place.

  11. #11
    Bronies, Bronies Everywhere acockey's Avatar
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    I think there is something to be said for at the very least holding the book in your handle to determine the a)quality of the paper b) quality of the cover, which can infer the quality of the book itself...I don't think you can determine those things online. Two: The magazines offered at B&N are something you can't take time to peruse through online, maybe
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  12. #12
    Not responsible for bitten fingers Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    Nooooooooooooooooo!

    I don't want to live in a world without bookstores!


    I hate the future. Can I return to my childhood when writing still seemed a bright shining career and bookstores were everywhere?
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  13. #13
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Sad, but, from my personal shopping experience, B&N seems to have been inviting this for a few years.

    Every time I go into the local store, it seems they have less and less of what I'm looking for. Even popular titles are harder and harder to find. I also walk out without a purchase - even if I had a book in my hand - if I'm pushed out of the way by employees more than three times in a visit... a policy that has cost them sales.

    It's gotten worse since the Nook showed up. Nothing against the Nook itself, but more of their floorspace and employee efforts are devoted to pushing the thing.

    There's just been a changing vibe in that store that makes me feel less welcome. The last time I had a gift certificate, I wound up spending it through their website instead. And if I'm already shopping online, I don't see a distinct advantage over Amazon.

    I still enjoy physical books, but frankly I've had much better luck shopping at used book stores like Half Price Books than B&N lately.
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  14. #14
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    I love having a B&N store half a mile from my home. I was there just yesterday!

    But -- I was there to buy my first Nook, and last night downloaded a book while sitting on my couch.
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    It's a dog-eat-waffle world. RedRam's Avatar
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    BN has actually been growing in-store sales for the past few years (since 2010). The problem the company has is that it's feeding the Nook division with the profit from the retail business.

    Last quarter, the college stores made $88m, the retail store made $20ish, and the Nook lost $55m (pretax income). If you look at comparable sales growth, the retail side saw a 2% increase, not counting Nook sales. With those included, sales fell 3%.

    BN has a great little business selling books. It also has a competitive online business. It's biggest flaw is the Nook, which is dragging the whole thing down. The closings are simply going to pare back some of the losers. This isn't anything new though, BN has been closing stores for years. The new twist is that it's not going to add new stores at the same time.

    I'm not worried about the company or the future of bound books.
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  16. #16
    I loathe how much they've been trying to push the Nook. I'm not in any way against ereaders, but when half the "coupons" I get in my emails turn out to be "30% off! if you buy a Nook" it starts to get annoying.

    Also, what the Ferret said.

    If both the B&Ns around here close, I guess I'll take all my business to the indie bookstores instead. Instead of just half of it.
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  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW heza's Avatar
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    I'm guessing the one where I live will be closed. And we don't have any indie bookstores. It's B&N or nothing.
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  18. #18
    What a desolation. Alexandra Little's Avatar
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    The nearest B&Ns are a half-hour away in each direction. We have a few used bookstores in-between, but the selections there are obviously a bit hit-or-miss in terms of both titles and physical book quality.

    I've been trying to stick to brick and mortar stores, but if either of the two near me close then I'm pretty much left with Amazon.com.

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  19. #19
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    We only have one in town now as the other closed. But honestly, our indie bookstores are doing great. I have two near where I live, and one in particular is just fabulous. It always has authors in doing signings, it has classes, book clubs, and a better selection than B&N in spite of being smaller. Not to mention the workers are more helpful and amazing with their suggestions.

    I think we're still going to have physical stores. I'm hoping to see, as others have mentioned, an increase in the indies. The reason those went out of business was because the big chains screwed them over. Without them in the way, indies might really have a good chance.
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  20. #20
    Not responsible for bitten fingers Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    I patronize several B&Ns, depending on which mall I happen to be at, and aside from Nook stand, sometimes occupied, sometimes not, they don't have all that much real estate devoted to selling their eReaders. Certainly not enough where it feels they've pushed out other paper books.

    If anything, its the non-book displays -- Legos, action figures, and other toys -- that have increased in size and pushed out retail space for books.


    And each store has a different emphasis on genre. One has more YA, another has more fantasy or mystery. Not sure how they determine which genre gets more emphasis depending on location.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhoda Nightingale View Post

    If both the B&Ns around here close, I guess I'll take all my business to the indie bookstores instead. Instead of just half of it.
    All our independents went out of business years ago. All we have left are B&Ns and Half Price Books.
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  21. #21
    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandra Little View Post

    I've been trying to stick to brick and mortar stores, but if either of the two near me close then I'm pretty much left with Amazon.com.
    Amazon is not the only online purveyor of books. (For example, Barnes and Noble...)

    Just sayin.

  22. #22
    What a desolation. Alexandra Little's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow_Ferret View Post
    If anything, its the non-book displays -- Legos, action figures, and other toys -- that have increased in size and pushed out retail space for books.
    I definitely noticed that with Borders, and have been noticing it with B&N. B&N (at least the ones near me) doesn't even have the planner selection I've seen before, thanks to all these toys pushing books out of the way.

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  23. #23
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ios View Post
    According to the actual WSJ article, B&N expects to close "as many as a third of its retail stores over the next decade" at a rate of about 20 stores per year. It expects to have about 450 to 500 stores at that point.

    What do you think this means to writers and to the publishers with books at B&N? A narrower selection of only the most popular books? Or will it become more like Walmart, each store customized to the locals' buying preferences?
    Why do you think that closing a proportion of their stores would change the books they carry? It's probable that each store manager will understand the region they're working in, and will know what books are likely to sell in that region. Closing other stores, elsewhere, isn't going to change that.

  24. #24
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow_Ferret View Post
    All our independents went out of business years ago.
    Pushed out of business over the last two decades by the big-box bookstores...
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  25. #25
    Azarath Metrion Zinthos AshleyEpidemic's Avatar
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    I loved going into BnN(as I called it with my friends). Through middle and high school, I would go and read manga or peruse the shelves. In middle school they had chairs we could sit it. Then they got rid of the chairs and we sat on the floor by high school. The store was always full. Even now, it is still always packed.

    I moved to Pittsburgh for college and went to a BnN not far from campus. I would sit read, be on my laptop. Then it closed halfway through my sophomore year. Luckily I brought my car, so I could go to the bigger one at the waterfront. Loved it and would get lost in the books there like I was back in hs. But then I got really cheap(suffering from poor college student) and I started borrowing books from Carnegie Library instead. Best library ever, btw.

    Now that I am in Austin, I have been in BnN once. Still no chairs. So I don't stay. But I have never had an issue.

    I will say I have been contributing to the issue of not purchasing from the stores and just buying from Amazon. I hate ebooks, they just aren't my thing. But I love the convenience of ordering my book from Amazon and getting it shipped. Plus since I pinch pennies, I can generally get a better deal on Amazon even it it is only a dollar or two.
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