For the past couple years B&N has been closing stores rather than renew expiring leases and pay higher rents. This has left many parts of the US without a big box bookstore, and now DC is joining the destitute.
The Washington City Paper reported on Friday that B&N's sole remaining store in DC will likely shut down at the end of the year. The lease is expiring at the end of the year, and the landlord has decided to replace B&n with a tenant that can pay a higher rent.
"Despite our best efforts to come to an agreement with the property owner to extend the lease, they have decided to move forward with another tenant and the store will close at the end of December," said David Deason, the B&N VP of Business Development. "The Washington, D.C. community is extremely important to us. We are looking at replacement locations and hope to have a new store there in the near future."
Located on the ground floor of the Thurman Arnold Building (555 12th St. NW), this store was the last of B&N's two stores in DC following the Union Station location closing in 2013. B&N still operates several bookstores on college campuses, so technically they have not left the region. But those are college and not retail bookstores, so B&N has still left the market.
B&N's store was predeceased by Borders, which closed both of its DC stores when it went bankrupt in 2011, and by Books-a-Million, which shut down its DC store in July 2015.
The B&N store will be survived by a bevy of competing independent bookstores as well as by Amazon, which has no physical store but sells book and offers same-day and next-day delivery.
And no, that's not a plug for Amazon; as one commenter pointed out on the WP article, B&N is abandoning the market to its online competition:
So, Books-a-Millon closed at Dupont Circle and now Barnes and Noble will be gone from D.C. leaving no big retail booksellers in the city. While indie bookstores are great, they tend to cater to niche audiences and/or the literati. What's great about the big chains is that they cater to everyone and you can browse and find surprises and gift ideas you never expected. I am not going to venture to the suburbs to try to find a bricks and mortar store, especially given Metro's dysfunction. So, I guess I'll be ordering all my books online now.
They're not wrong.
Thanks, Paul! Thanks, Steve!