If you still love shopping for books by hand at your local Barnes & Noble, enjoy it while you can, because the company has announced that its cutting its store force by 30% within 10 years, lowering the total number of bookstores for the company down to 450 to 500 stores in the US. Right now, the company operates just under 700 locations, with a separate store chain of 675 college-focused stores.
CEO Mitchell Klipper confirmed the news today, saying that the company expects to close 20 stores per year on average. In the past decade, the company shut down approximately 15 stores per year on average, but they were also opening at least 30 stores per year in new locations. However, that process met a roadblock a few years ago. The company's peak number of stores at any one time was 726 in 2008.
While the closing of 30% of its stores is certainly not good news, Klipper tries to see the good things out of the downsize. He says "it's a good business model," because "you have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems." It's certainly not what the company hoped for by any means, but Klipper says that business models change throughout the years and you have to learn to adjust.
Barnes & Noble's brick-and-mortar store business has been drying up more and more as consumers shift toward Amazon and buying ebooks online, but Klipper is confident in his new business plan, and while the company is closing many of its stores, they're expanding their digital book arsenal to make up for the loss.
UPDATE: We received word from a Barnes & Noble spokesperson about the future closings of their various stores, and they note that the company "has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever," and that the numbers being reported "are consistent with analysts’ expectations." The spokesperson mentioned that "in 2012, Barnes & Noble opened two new prototype stores and in 2013 plans to test several other prototypes, as well," saying that they are "fully committed to the retail concept for the long term."