In a major blow to book lovers, Barnes & Noble will shutter up to a third of its stores over the next 10 years.
The national chain will pare down to 450 to 500 stores from the 689 brick-and-mortar stores it currently has has now, Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group told The Wall Street Journal
That’s about 20 stores being closed annually.
Over the past decade, Barnes & Noble closed 15 stores a year — but that was offset by the company opening at least 30 new stores each year until 2009.
The announcement comes amid less-than-encouraging sales figures. The Journal reports that the company’s latest holiday revenue was down 10.9 percent compared to the previous year. And last year, the sales of print books fell by 9 percent.
Its e-book devices have also taken a sales hit. Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble reported that sales of Nook products declined during the last holiday period due to lower unit volume and average selling prices.
But Klipper is optimistic about the business, noting that Barnes & Noble stores are still very profitable, pulling in a pre-tax $317 million in fiscal 2012. In addition, people enjoy searching for books in the company’s stores.
"When you go to Bed Bath & Beyond, you don't sit down on the floor and curl up with your blender and your kid," Klipper told the Journal.
And even with 450 to 500 stores, "it's a good business model. You have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems. 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."
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