Bookseller Barnes & Noble has said it expects to shut up to a third of its real-world stores. CEO Mitchell Klipper has confirmed the plans in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
But underlining the considered nature of the closures, Klipper said they would happen slowly over 10 years, reducing the store count by about 20 every year down to about 450 or 500. While that sounds terrible, and will impact retail staff employment, it’s a careful and considered reaction to the inevitable decline in in-person buying of goods, thanks to the Net, and of the rise of the e-book at the expense of the printed one. Klipper is confident of his business plan, and has been expanding B&N’s digital book business to compensate. British book and newspaper retailer W.H. Smith, now over 220 years old and recently championed for its success, may be a role model.
Update: A B&N spokesperson has been in touch with Fast Company by email to note the following.
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.