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Hypable

The rise of digital e-books continues to leave a negative mark on the brick-and-mortar book shop industry.

The Wall Street Journal reports Barnes & Noble, the last major book shop chain standing after Borders closed its doors for good in 2011, is planning to close twenty stores per year over the next ten years.

UPDATE: Barnes & Noble has issued the following statement to Hypable where they down play any fears that these closures are outside of expectations. Further, they say their physical locations are very much a part of their longterm plan.

“Barnes & Noble has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever. The Wall Street Journal article today implies that our rate of store closures has changed. We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the last 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 Barnes & Noble opened two new prototype stores in 2012 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.”

It’s a small number per year, but a clear sign of where the company believes it needs to be headed in the near term. Barnes & Noble currently has just under 700 stores open. This past holiday season’s sale numbers were 10% less than how it did in the holiday season prior.

Amazon, Apple, and other tech companies can be put to blame for Barnes & Noble’s downfall. The company has competed in the rising e-book market by launching its own digital reading device, the Nook, but it has failed to rise to popularity like the iPad and the Kindle. Another factor hurting Barnes & Noble’s stores is the fact that people use the store to window shop. That is, they’ll search for books within the store but then buy them using their Kindle or iPad once they’re back at home for a cheaper price in a digital format.

No matter how loyal we become to e-book devices, we’ll always love the feel of going into a book store and finding a physical copy to read. There’s also the personal enjoyment of a cozy coffee shop within a book store that can’t be beat. Barnes & Noble’s free wifi offerings help complete the overall in-store experience.

If there’s one silver lining to this news: Mom and pop book shops (as they’re called) can rise to the occasion and be replacements for communities with closed Barnes & Noble stores.

  • Kato

    This makes me incredibly sad. I can’t express how disappointed I am that ebooks are becoming so popular.

  • MirrorWolf

    Terrible news. Let’s just hope that they don’t become the next Borders.

  • Joely

    This is seriously horrible. As much as I love my kindle, real books are still my favourite. I just hope that books are still going to be printed and we can just order them online.

  • Sarah

    SAVE THE BOOKSTORE INDUSTRY. DON’T BUY BOOKS FROM AMAZON. This has been a public service announcement by, well, me.

    • Shelby Walker

      I try to only buy books at Barnes and Noble unless it is a difficult one to find… I just hope that things can change and the stores don’t have to close…

      • Kyle

        Buy from local bookstores. It keeps money in the local economy. If they don’t have a book you want then they’ll order it. I only buy from chain stores if I have to have a book right then!

        • http://twitter.com/kas98 Kyle Stewart

          My small town had a fantastic bookstore, but was closed a year ago. We always bought from there. They are typically very friendly, and will help you! Also, they sometimes offer great discount cards.

          Even though I would call myself rather Tech Savvy, I still love my bookshelf and actually picking up a nice, new hardcover book.

  • http://twitter.com/taylie27 Taylore Thompson

    If they try to close the Barnes and Noble near me I’ll chain myself to the outside of the store! It’s the only book store that I know of on all of Maryland’s eastern shore. Plus I work right next to them and use my nook when I’m on break :(

  • Glaciusx

    OMG, NO!!! Just my luck, too since I JUST bought a B&N Membership. People need to stop with this ebook shit and go buy real books. I fear for the future if there are no bookstores in our society.

  • another weasley

    What I don’t understand is this…why does the Barnes & Noble website sell it’s books (real paper books) cheaper than it’s own brick & mortar? I have asked my local store employees and they have no good answer. Neither do I.

    • Siriuslyremused

      Well first the shipping cost is suposed to bridge the gap a bit but since shipping is free over $25 thats pretty pointless. What i always tell customers is it’s a connivence thing. shipping a book from a warehouse requires minimal staff and overhead. But when you go into a book store all those books had to be shipped to the store, unloaded, organized, shelved by employees who need to be paid. then there are the employees who help you find the book and check you out at the register and make your coffee. Plus the costs of utilities and the like. There are a lot more operating expenses at a physical store that justify the price difference. And it sucks but its the truth. it comes down to convenience. You can walk into the store and get the book you need right away and not have to wait for it to get shipped to you. While some people may think it’s stupid to have to pay extra because of overhead, it’s just the way the world works. I hope this helps even it’s just my own opinion on things. :)

  • Tiffani

    It’s surprising that even Barnes and Noble is having a hard time with the switch from paper books to ebooks. I myself own a Kindle that was gifted to me and I use it while traveling but when I am home, I prefer to purchase the physical book.

  • Elphaba Thropp

    No. No, no, no, NO. I do NOT accept this.

    :( But seriously…it’s really sad that my unborn first niece is going to have to grow up in a world with barely any bookstores. She’ll never know Borders, and now Barnes and Noble? We only have ONE relatively close, and that’s forty five minutes away…if it closes…

  • Katherine

    I don’t have an ereader nor do I intend to buy one. I don’t read any digital books on my phone or computer either. I LOVE the feel of a good book in my hand, and I LOVE how they look on the shelves. How does the quote go? “A home without books is a body without a soul.” This saddens me so much. I’m just praying they keep the local one open. We used to have two within driving distance of my home, and they closed one of them last year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dfarin Daryl Farin

    I wouldn’t say this is BN’s downfall. The business is evolving, the market is evolving, and they’re following suit. They’re closing stores that are not turning profit, all businesses do this. 500 stores is still plenty to work with. And for their holiday season, they MADE 10% less profit than they did last year. They just didn’t meet expectations. Apple didn’t meet missed their expectations this year, and their stock is down from $600 to $400 also. Does this mean Apple is doomed? Not a chance.

    BN is evolving with the times, and we should too. If we held onto floppy discs and other past physical media the way we hold onto books, would our technology be where it is today? Would we have our precious iPhones and iPads and Androids?

    • Bradley

      Agree. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, it’s simply a smart business decision. They know that more and more people are moving to e-books and it’s only smart business to close stores that aren’t turning a profit. If they didn’t close specific stores, then they would surely go under. People should look at the larger picture, keep B&N around for the rest of our lives with less stores, or have them go bankrupt with too many stores.

      I don’t know that there will be a place for “book stores” in the next 10-20 years, I think as tablets like the kindle fire and Nexus 7 (they sell for less than $200) are released more and more, it’s going to bring the price down to something that everyone can purchase – then there will be no reason to purchase real books. Is it a little sad? Sure. But it’s called evolving with the times. If we look back at our history, we’ll see that many businesses have been knocked off the street due to society evolving and it’s not always a negative thing.

      If more people are reading, even if it’s e-books, this is a good thing.

  • http://twitter.com/Nawanda_Files Krista R

    Without Borders, there is no other bookstore but Barnes & Noble for 50+ miles and I live in a college town. I will protest if my B&N gets closed.

    • Shelby Walker

      I have two B&N locations near me, and then another on the complete other side of town… If the ones near me close, I’ll be really upset. I pretty much buy all my books at one of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robyn.waul Robyn Stephanie Waul

    OMG – I am saddened and disappointed even though i own a nook and an ipa, there is nothing like going to the bookstore, i can get lost in there for hours…and yes i do purchase books.

  • ravenclaw1991

    OH MY GOD NOOO! I will die if my local Barnes & Noble closes. I love that place and I go there all the time to try to find stuff.

  • Siriuslyremused

    I work part time at barnes and noble and this isn’t a surprise to me seeing how much they’ve been cutting hours and various other thing. I am lucky in that my store is not only the only BN but the only bookstore at all in a 2 hour radius (which is really quite sad) so it is probably safe. However I am from Baltimore where they have 3 or more within an hour from each other. I think they will be the ones to go first. This really sucks. I have a nook and an ipad but there is nothing like a real book. Also I believe the nook is way better then kindle, and I’m not just saying that cause I work for BN.

  • Stacie

    This news is absolutely disgusting. I honestly don’t see the appeal of ebooks and Nooks and all that other crap. I like a physical book in my hand. Call me weird, but I love the smell of books. When I get a new book, the first thing I do is sniff it. I’ve never been interested in ebooks or Nooks, and never will be. And everyone wonders why the economy sucks right now. People can’t get jobs when everything is being run by the Internet now. I like to go out and shop. Why do I want to sit at home all day, bored out of my mind, and do everything by the Internet? Bookstores are my favorite places to go to and it’s a shame that they are slowly disappearing.

  • http://twitter.com/akacj7 Caroline J.

    wherever the market goes in the next 20 years, i just hope hope HOPE there will always be a nice place like B&N to go to get a book and a hot chocolate. nothing really beats browsing a book store on a lazy sunday.

  • Phantomfluteplayer

    I REALLY hope that they don’t close the Barnes and Noble near me. It’s the last bookstore within a decent distance from me and I still love bookstores. Yes, I own a Kindle, but nothing can replace the feeling of opening a new book in my heart. You can’t get the “new book smell” from reading a Kindle. There is just something magical about opening a book for the first time and setting out to read it. I don’t think e-readers will ever capture that magic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Krys831 Krystol Grayson

    I mentioned this article to my husband and instead of comforting me (I have my own private library of over 1k books and it just keeps growing) he proceeds to tell me that it’s for the best. I think my heart is breaking.

    • Shelby Walker

      That’s terrible. My fiance will be the complete opposite. We have to go to B&N every few weeks to get him new books because he reads so much faster than I do. Basically, it won’t take long for us to accumulate a library as big as yours!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17127641 Laura Jurgensmeyer

    If you’re going to buy an ereader, please consider the Nook! Also, like Sarah said, please don’t buy books from Amazon!

  • http://twitter.com/Dillon_Mays Dillon Mays

    Hasn’t this been known for a while. I mean I love them, but everyone’s going digital these days. I prefer an actual book.

  • jen_a_ray

    You know it sadly makes since. I have gone into my local B & N 3 times in the last 6 months and walked out mad all 3 times with nothing. I have a B & N membership, but still I think it is nuts to pay more the $10 for the same thing I could buy on THEIR website, and have free shipping! Another time the employees were so rude I left a stack of Christmas gifts and walked out another time they were going to have an author signing event. She had to cancel for family reasons, so she sent a box of pre signed books to the store. I stoped by on my lunch break to buy one. But they would not sell one to me. I had to wait till 5 when the cancelled event would have started! I do not plan on renewing my membership, it is not worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/xhpfanatic Grace Chen

    I FRICKING HATE EBOOKS
    WAY TO RUIN LIVES

  • hpboy13

    I’m very happy about the silver lining this article mentioned – give me indie bookstores over B&N any day. I never go to B&N if I can help it anyway, not when there are stores like Books of Wonder, the Strand, and Bank Street Bookstore in NYC to shop at.

    • Shelby Walker

      But that doesn’t help people who sort of rely on B&N to get the books they want (without having to go to the website and wait). Not every city has other bookstores that provide the same variety. There are a few used book shops by my house, but it’s hell trying to find the books you want. And even if you request a book, they might not get them in. B&N is the best option for people in my area, and I’m sure other people have the same issue.

  • http://twitter.com/CherryVanillaAd Cherry Vanilla

    I would have bought the nook … but I B&N didn’t accept my international credit card … and amazon did … so I have the kindle now … I still buy books at B&N when I go to USA …. it’s so sad!!! I hope they don’t close the store I often go … it’s hard to find the book I want in my contry.

  • Kat

    WAIT WAIT WAIT NOOOOO! I love Barnes and Nobles! That is my favorite store in the entire world!!! They can’t do this. That picture up there is the Barnes and Nobles I go to.

  • Christi

    As long as the don’t close the one I go to!

  • http://twitter.com/CassiopeiaDrake Cassie Drake

    Ugh. Don’t do this! I only use my eReader to read books from the library. If I’m going to spend money, I want to buy something physical that I can hold and display. Paper books will always be a big part of my life. I can’t justify spending money on digital media. It’s not even THAT much of a savings.

  • https://twitter.com/GreatSkies29 Hermione Granger

    The main B&N near my house closed about a year ago, and although I don’t think it was due to downsizing (it was a disagreement about rent from the cluster/mall thing it was in), I was still so incredibly sad. It was the store I went to for the midnight book releases of HP, it was the store I would go to and sit in for hours browsing for new books, it was the store where I would sit in the cafe in the balcony and do my homework. Real bookstores cannot be replaced, and I think they offer more than just the books themselves (unlike online retailers). I have to admit, I’ve been buying from amazon a lot more since that B&N closed, since it’s so much cheaper and now I don’t have any way to go to an actual store (or I’d have to drive pretty far)… but nothing can replace that real bookstore feeling.

    • Meghan Carlisle

      Exactly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Wang/542480760 Maria Wang

    I’ve written an essay where I mentioned my dislike of ebooks as a part of my argument for something else. Convenient yes, but who wants a piece of silicon and plastic? I spend enough of my time looking at an electronic screen – iphone games, facebook, youtube, hypable, fanfiction, school stuff… So I certainly do not feel the need to read novels off a bloody screen too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Wang/542480760 Maria Wang

    Next thing you know, libraries would be obsolete because everyone would be renting books onto their ebook. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this becomes a thing in the next 10 years. Now that would be a tragedy!!!!

  • Meghan Carlisle

    NOOOO…..not my Barnes and Noble! ;( It’s my favorite store. I have a Nook but it’s no substitute for the real deal.

  • http://twitter.com/emilyecstasyTM Emily Bryan

    I feel like someone just tore up my insides. :’[

  • Jess

    I am sad to hear this, I spent many hours in college at our local Barns & Noble. I loved browsing for books, but I think that in this day in age, convenience beats everything. Same reason Blockbuster and other video stores went under, people can download a movie off their computer or on demand.

  • http://hypable.com John Thrasher

    Book stores better find a way to lure customers in. No one is going to drive to their local book store and pay $20 extra dollars than Amazon if they can save dough and have it delivered to their doorstep – or worse yet, to their iPad.

    I’m all about physical books but this industry can’t expect people to just continue to support it for the sake of supporting it.

    • hpboy13

      I feel like the best way to do that is to create a sense of community. Book clubs, author events, even just having friendly staff to chat with customers about books. That’s why my favorite indie store is still in business despite everything – they get authors to do events, which always ends with people walking out with a stack of books they can’t wait to read. And I will make the extra trek to the bookstore because I know I can chat with the staff about book recommendations and so forth. B&N has never created this sense of community, IMO.

  • Mel823

    Mom and Pop shops will suffer the same faith. People will just go in there to browse and buy the same book off of Amazon.

  • Ian Miller

    :’( That’s all I have to say

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Lulu1 Lupita

    I can’t say this surprises me :( sure it’s sad but why would anyone spend $20.00 on a book from B&N when they can just go to target or wal-mart and buy the same book for $10.00 ????

  • Bridget

    :’(

  • supastubble

    dude…i really want to go in that Barnes and Noble in the picture. It’s like a castle–a beautiful, beautiful castle.

  • Plat

    Blah, I still enjoy going into a book store and browsing around, seeing all there is to see. That’s just not the same experience as touching a glass screen and typing in the search box.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636033419 Maritere Domínguez

    :´(

  • spacie19

    I buy in stores (mostly independent sellers) and on ebook. I mean, I’m sad too, but the truth is, I’m reading MORE now that I have a Kindle. I used to be that chick that just showed up to book club to eat and drink, because I didn’t have time to find the book. Now I’m like, ding! $10, there it is. And I’m reading every day because it’s always with me.

  • PotterFan1029

    This makes me depressed…I had so many wonderful Harry Potter memories at Borders, and now what was always my backup, Barnes & Noble, could possibly be on the same way out as Borders :(

    We need to fight this! We must keep B&N afloat!

  • Louis

    WEEPING because books. I do not want to see a future without physical books. I still want a library or actual concrete books

  • Jim

    My local B&N was pure and utter overpriced garbage. I have tried to support the store in the past, but was always told “Sorry we do not have that can we order it for you, and you can drive back to get it?”. My store did not even sell the Nooks you had to order those as well. It is funny how they state it is based on the ebook industry, but they are a part of that industry. Also why would anyone pay sometimes triple for a audiobook in their brick and mortar store, and that is also after becoming a member. I am sorry for the jobs lost, but I will be there waiting with joy for the bulldozer to finally tear mine down.

  • http://twitter.com/SarahKHansen S.K.Hansen

    I’m one of the few people who owns a Nook and I love it. I don’t read a lot of ebooks, I mostly listen to audiobooks, but when I do it is really convenient to have my books on that little device. Plus, it is more comfortable to hold than a physical book. For most people that doesn’t matter, but I have pretty bad RSI in both hands and arms. Holding a physical book for hours can start to hurt. The Nook is really light, and I can prop it up with something and not have to worry about the pages flipping. That being said, If I really love a book I buy a physical copy, if only to see it on my bookshelf.

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