Barnes and Noble to Close 30% of Stores: Report

Number of bookstores to shrink gradually over next 10 years

The book store chain Barnes and Nobles plans to close as many as a third of its retail stores over the next decade according to a published report.

The article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal said the book chain has 689 retail stores as well as a separate chain of 674 college stores.

The company expects to close approximately 20 stores a year, bringing the total number of retail outlets to the 450 to 500 stores, Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group was quoted as saying in the WSJ article.

A spokesperson from the company pointed out, however, that the rate of store closures has actually not changed. "We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the last 10 years," Mary Ellen Keating wrote in a statement, according to NBC News. "Of that number, some of the stores are unprofitable while other are relocations to better properties."

Keating also pointed out that Barnes and Noble has opened two new prototype stores last year and plans to test other prototypes this year.

Three weeks ago, the company reported a drop in holiday sales over the previous year. Bookstores, earned $1.2 billion for the nine-week holiday period, down 10.9 percent over the previous year.

Sales of NOOK devices have also dropped 12.6 percent over the previous year due to “lower unit volume and average selling prices” according to a company statement.

The company did see a 13.1 percent increase in digital content sales including books, newsstand and apps.

"NOOK device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday,” said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. in the written release. “We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward."

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