What Will Happen To Ex-B&N Stores After the Company is Gone?

25840491056_4ef8b9434d_hWhat with Barnes & Noble CEO Len Riggio apparently determined to run the retailer into the ground, now is as good of a time as any to start brainstorming ideas for what can be done with the soon to be closed B&N stores.

B&N operates around 640 bookstores, and they're mostly between 25,000 and 40,000 square foot in size. While that makes for a large bookstore, in absolute terms it's really not that big.

The average Toys r Us store is bigger, and a typical American supermarket starts at about three times the size of a B&N. And of course Walmart stores start at around a hundred thousand square feet (for the old-style stores)and can be as large as 270,000 square feet (for the super-mega-uber-centers).

I even have a local library branch (Chinn Park) which, at 25,000 square feet, is about as large a small B&N store.

So what do you think will happen to old B&N stores?

Most will probably be refitted as retail space - possibly even a store which still sells books. My local Borders store, for example, was replaced by a 2nd & Charles store, the secondhand media chain owned by Books-a-Million.

But some could be converted to libraries or community centers, which is what has happened to a number of former grocery stores and Walmart stores.

In Springfield, MO, a former Dillon's supermarket was turned into a library in 2003. The Athens-Limestone Public Library in Alabama moved last year into an old Kroger supermarket. And in Texas an ex-Walmart was turned into a library in 2012.

So even when there's no more demand for a retail space, libraries are taking the opportunity to open branches which many of us can only dream of.

But then again, all of those spaces were a lot larger than a typical B&N store, so it was much more difficult to find a replacement tenant.

When it comes to B&N stores, we sometimes find realtors or tech companies moving into a former bookstore, or the space might be split between a couple different tenants.

So what do you think will happen to  B&N's stores after they are gone?

image by THE Holy Hand Grenade!

About Nate Hoffelder (11478 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

13 Comments on What Will Happen To Ex-B&N Stores After the Company is Gone?

  1. In my area, definitely retail. The towns won’t give up the ratables. Borders paid nearly $170,000/yr in property taxes.

  2. Restaurants and liquor stores. Gaming arcades. Child care centers. Poliltical campaign headquarters.
    But most likely of all: supervillain lairs. They love abandoned warehouses, after all.

  3. Funny Nate that your hatred for Barnes is clearly there, Not one article that you have written about that company is positive, But let me get back to the question on hand. If anyone can steer his company in the right direction, It’s him. BN’s decline started when William Lynch took over and tried to make BN the next Apple and it was downhill from there. So don’the be so quick to jump to conclusions with this click bait article. If BN can see a turn around Riggio will be able to do it. Hell I want them to stick around so if I wanted a new book I can just go there and pick it up. As for Nook, BN just needs to give full control of Nook to Samsung and let theme handle the ebook business side. Use their nook areas as Samsung boutiques etc like Bestbuy.

    • Samsung Readers Hub


      Samsung learned their lesson. They don’t even try to mess with content.

    • B&N life is over and there is reason why so little positive is said about them or the guy in charge who is intent to close the chain either by his poor management skills or his bizarre excuses: Their business model failed. There is nothing left “to turn around”.

      There is zero need for a B&N in today’s world as there are zillions of other options to get a book and to get that book cheaper than B&N. Their customer service was the absolute worst and they took their customers for granted. Mr. Riggio is responsible for leading it to its death. He thinks it is still 1995, and obviously has no clue what is involved to run a business in today’s world.

    • I think it’s clear that Nate doesn’t hate B&N. His attitude is 99.997% contempt which B&N has richly earned and which I share.

  4. My local B&N (closed years ago) is now a Sprouts. Very nice.

    • Down in Richmond a former B&N store has been replaced by UpDog.

      • The local Borders is a PF Chang’s.
        I hear they took over quite a few.

        • So, a restaurant can work.

          Just not if there is a book store attached…

          • Same prime location, different ambiance.
            I should, however, point out this particular Borders was in an upscale mall and very profitable. The mall operstor actually bid to buy the store contents and keep the staff, even if it meant dropping the Borders name. It didn’t fly because the creditors (mostly the BPHs) wanted a total liquidation, no exception.
            At the time the BPHs *wanted* Borders gone to drive Borders customers to B&N.
            In this area there was no B&N so now it’s just indie stores and Amazon. Lots of Amazon.
            And a nice chain restaurant.

            It took a lot of stupidity to bring us to this point.

          • I’ve heard of a similar story with an independent bookstore which was going to close when its owner retired.

            I forget where.

  5. The two Borders in our area (both near mid-level malls) were quickly filled. One is a Longhorn Steakhouse, the other is a HomeGoods.

    B&N was set to launch a new store attached to our largest mall, but ditched the plan when Borders closed. I had hoped they would shift to the empty Borders, but Longhorn did. So there is no bookstore near our largest trafficked mall.

    Between the toys, gifts and DVDs, B&N shelf space has shrunk in half for books. Two independents tried to make a go of it in small off beat locations, but failed. We have a couple Half Price Books in run down plazas, and Target seems to have expanded its book area and now also carries cookbooks, in addition to a large young adult section.

    I’m still pissed that Borders took Waldenbooks down with it. After Kmart shotgun married them, BGI stripped out WB profits for decades to build ever larger Borders, and completely let Amazon steal their online business. Those smaller WB stores would have survived in this climate.

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