B&N Expects Brick & Mortar Bookselling to Wither Over the Next Decade
But it hasn’t completely given up.
When B&N announced in January 2013 that they expected to shrink for the next decade, many pundits including this blogger started singing dirges for B&N’s imminent demise (my mp3 player is on a loop).
But it now looks like B&N’s plans aren’t as simple as shuttering hundreds of stores. Instead, a recent news article suggests that while B&N expects B&M bookselling to wither over the next decade, they’re not completely giving up on all of the marginal and unprofitable stores.
The DeKalb Daily Chronicle reported on Monday that B&N will be closing its store in that Illinois city by the end of the month. According to the landlord, B&N isn’t just walking away:
The national book retailer will close Dec. 31 because Barnes & Noble made an offer on a new lease and refused to negotiate with Mid-America, Staebler said.
Staebler said Barnes & Noble representatives have rejected lease offers his company made during the past year that would have reduced the store’s rent for the 21,000 square-foot space at 2439 Sycamore Road.
“People ask me why I’m evicting Barnes & Noble,” Staebler said. “But I’m not closing the store. I’m not laying people off their jobs. It’s[Barnes & Noble’s] decision.”
Commercial leases commonly run for a decade or more, and if a store is only marginally profitable it’s not unusual for a retailer to simply let a lease expire. But that’s not what B&N is doing here; rather than walk away they low-balled the landlord with a price which B&N thought they could afford but which the landlord could not accept.
That’s not quite the same thing as deciding to shutter the store, and it’s not even close to sacking and looting, as one commenter on The Passive Voice described it.
Instead B&N is expecting bookstore retail to wither over the next decade, Those larger locations just aren’t feasible (but the smaller 15,000 square foot stores B&N has been considering might be).
I found this story at The Passive Voice, but I don’t find myself in agreement with most of the commenters. I would not say that "these closings loudly communicate a disinclination to stay in the book business"; if that were the case then B&N would not even have made an offer.
While it can be fun to predict that the sky will fall, I think in the case of B&N a more conservative position is warranted.
Or am I putting too positive of a spin on this?