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Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Barnes & Noble plans to shutter about a third of its stores over a decade

By Lizzy Alfs


Barnes & Noble plans to close about 30 percent of its stores over the next decade, CEO Mitchell Klipper told the Wall Street Journal.

File photo |

In yet another blow to brick-and-mortar bookstores, Barnes & Noble announced plans this week to shrink its national store count by about 30 percent.

Mitchell Klipper, CEO of Barnes & Noble’s retail group, told the Wall Street Journal that in 10 years, the chain will have 450 to 500 stores, down from its 689 existing bookstores. The company also operates 667 separate college bookstores.

Klipper said the plan would result in about 20 store closures a year for the next decade. Still, he added, it’s “a good business model” for the company.

"You have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems. Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves," Klipper told the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Associated Press, Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said Klipper’s comments don’t mark a change in the company’s plans. For the past several years, Barnes & Noble has closed about 15 stores per year, she said.

The news comes a year and a half after one of Barnes & Noble’s main competitors, Borders, announced its plans to liquidate. Borders has since shuttered all of its bookstores, including the flagship location in downtown Ann Arbor.

When Borders closed, Barnes & Noble bought Borders’ loyalty list in an attempt to win those customers over. The list included millions of names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and some purchase information. Barnes & Noble also paid $13.9 million to acquire Borders’ brand name and website.

In December, New York-based Barnes & Noble reported a 10.9 percent decrease in bookstore sales over the holiday season. Sales of the Nook tablet also fell short of the company’s expectations, down 12.6 percent from 2011. Barnes & Noble posted $317 million in earnings in 2012.

It’s unclear which Barnes & Noble stores will be affected by the store closings. There is a store on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor, and nearby stores in Brighton and Livonia, according to its website.

Following the news, Barnes & Noble’s stock fell 26 cents to $12.90 in midday trading.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


K Thompson

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:10 a.m.

Yes, the Borders formula was perfect. Lots of books. Variety. Unusual titles, not just fodder from big publishing houses. A chair here or there to cozy up abd check a book, soft (not loud, not rock, not deafening, not distracting) often classical or at least instrumental music in the BACKground (Hello ALL Retail World: NOT loud, not FOREground music). You felt by osmosis thst you wanted to buy and read something from so many shelves. Recently, (though Never Again because of the noise) I feel as if on a strategic mission; zoom in, plug ears, check title availability, not there, can't get out fast enough. Noise and torment from it, not alluring inviting comfort, drives me away and prevents browsing beyond my specific quest. A completely unpleasant shopping experience. Amazon is not Borders, and lacks ambiance, lingering, browsing, lounging - but B&N choose not to offer that. So unfortunate for book lovers and readers.

K Thompson

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:55 a.m.

If they shut off the music, which is TOO LOUD to concentrate make choices or read books by, they would get more customers. I can't shop there because it's TOO LOUD! It's a bookstore, not a bar! Geesh!


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Have you noticed how the used bookstores are still up and running but yet the new ones are not? Interesting thought here. Never like Barnes and Noble and wish it was them not Borders that went out of business. But then again Little Professor in Westgate is still intake. Just a thought for today.

Ypsi Russell

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

Corn Dog Books, the sidewalk stall on State at Liberty, is doing quite well with used books -- and it's outlasted Borders, Shaman Drum, David's, Michigan Book & Supply... and soon apparently Barnes & Noble!

Chester Drawers

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

The bookstore at Westgate hasn't been Little Professor for a loooong time. It is called Nicola's.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I enjoyed walking downtown with my young son for time spent reading at Borders and walking home with a new book to read at bed time. B & N at the strip mall doesn't do it for me. I am glad we will be getting a new downtown bookstore: Literati.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

I went to B&N once after Borders closed and have never gone back. Their website often has reference books advertised for substantially less ($20 or more) than the store price, but they have a policy to not honor online prices in their brick and mortar stores and they won't budge on it. What they don't understand is when you force people to buy online to get the advertised discounts, they might as well buy from Amazon because its still cheaper than the sale price. B&N is working quite hard at making their brick and mortar stores obsolete.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 10:25 a.m.

I get the newer books from the library. Heck, the current book I have from the AADL is priced at $35.95 and I read it in a week? No thanks. I love my Kindle and get many free books that are good reads. If not I am not out any money!

Richard C

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 6:54 a.m.

In the past 6 months, I've been in the Barnes and Nioble on Washtenaw 3 or 4 times, and only once did I find anything worth taking home. I've kept on visiting, hoping to find something engaging, but most of the stuff there is so pedestrian and the environment is so annoying that I just can't slide into the frame of mind I want. Ick. I used to visit Borders every couple of weeks and find something interesting. I think I got spoiled by the selections available at Borders, or maybe the environment. Borders was a book store (with a side business of music, and a small cafe.) Barnes and Nobel is like a mall with huge swaths of the premises given over to toys and games, a food service court, and general emptiness. (If you guessed that I hate malls, you guess right.)


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

B & N is the worst bookstore.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.



Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

There are some of us that enjoy the act of physically browsing in a book store. Sometimes you'll find a gem that you weren't aware of. If you already know what you want the on-line sellers are fine, but you can't really browse.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

Actually, you can browse online as well -- its just not physically picking up books...they do the same breakdowns, just like you would find on the "special collection" tables...broken out in lists...but you have to be willing to spend some time doing that. They also come with instant ratings attached so that something you think sounds good can instantly be compared to see if it really IS good or not. People actually do take the time to rate the books and make comments on them...


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

Just an FYI, if you have a Nook you can read any book that Barnes and Noble offers on Nook format for free for an hour at a time inside the store.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Just throwing this generic question out there for the frequent readers out there. How do you purchase your books? Hard copy online, Digital download, Hard copy in store, other... Personally I mostly go with hard copy ordered online, mostly for the fact that I either end up reselling it or loaning it to another.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

Kyle, I love books, thanks to my mom who read to me almost every night(I wish she was around to see how much her great-granddaughter enjoys reading!). I love the way they feel in my hands. I love the opportunity for knowledge/inspiration/enjoyment that they you can probably tell, my first choice is Hard Copy in Store. If B&N closes it will be a sad day for this Unapologetic Bluestocking!

Tom Hollyer

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

95% digital download. Kindle for iPad and Apple Store.There are plenty of online places to browse and find new work. The only books we purchase in hard copy are cookbooks. Why? Habit, mostly, plus I enjoy the cookbooks for what they offer beyond the recipes. And, as many online recipes as there are, there are usually not online recipes for the latest cool cookbook.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

ALmost 100% Kindle on iPad and iPhone these days -- newest releases cost about half of the hardcover, even from Amazon and other deep discounters, and I love that I can just pick up wherever I left off either on my iPhone while waiting in a line, or the iPad, since they sync up as you use them...Plus, I have hundreds of books on my iPad everywhere I go without having to lug around other books...

Brian Bundesen

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

I purchase via all 3 methods. Just discovered kindle for iPad, so those purchases will increase. I still love browsing at bookstores, but sadly, I, like others, often browse at store then buy online.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Spoken like a true ignorant conservative tdw! *Hard copy from amazon.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.



Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

None....If I bought a book I'd feel like I had to read it

Tom Teague

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

It's sad. But bookstores are particularly vulnerable to two changes in the delivery model: first, a growing number (not all) of the consumer base is comfortable reading on electronic devices which promises near-instant delivery. Second, customers who want books in hand find that there's no difference between the item they buy online and the item that is in the store. Throw in the uncertainties of whether the local store will have the item, or whether you can find it in the store without help from a smaller sales team, and the poor brick-and-mortar bookstore is left selling its product to fewer and fewer people.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Gosh I am glad I have my Kindle. Sure hope Amazon does not go out of business!!!!

Fresh Start

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

If they shuttered the place at Washtenaw and Huron Parkway then we'd all have a place to park when we go to Whole Foods and the other businesses.

John of Saline

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Watching the SUVs troll the lot, looking for any space at all, is amusing. One wonders how local planning messed up the parking allocation there.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

"You have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems. Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves," Klipper told the Wall Street Journal. The Public Sector needs to heed this sound advice. Especially since this is another tax paying entity that provides the necessary, and ever decreasing funding that supports the public sector. Cost containment, and not generating additional "creative" revenue sources should be the prioity for city, county, state, federal, and education leaders. The future does not contain a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end of it.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

Snapshot - As an fyi, I saw the "begin" quotes and "end" quotes..........:) But thanks for pointing that out anyway. The audience that reads this paper carries a wide range of IQs. :)


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

This quote may look like Klipper said, "The Public sector needs to heed this advice". He did not, I said it based upon decreasing tax revenue from the private sector.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

It will be a much shorter timeframe than a decade. In 2003, Barnes and Noble could barely see to 2007 - not to mention 2013. Do you think they have the vision to predict their needs out to 2023 right now? National, "big box" bookstores = dead & dying.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Doubt the Ann Arbor store is in their sights...its one of their top performers nationwide.

Silly Sally

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

What is unfair to all brick and mortar stores is that their customers have to pay sales tax, while online customers mostly do not. That 6% or even higher in other states is a huge disadvantage for brick and mortar stores.