Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Barnes & Noble Likely to Close One-Third of Remaining Stores

The latest from Barnes & Noble is that the chain plans to close as many as one-third of its stores over the next ten years.  If that ensures that the company will be able to maintain a substantial physical presence across most urban areas far into the future, book lovers will ultimately applaud the decision.

According to this Los Angeles Times article:

The chain will end up with 450 to 500 stores in 10 years, down from the 689 physical stores it has now, according to Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group.
That evens out to about 20 stores shuttered yearly over the period, Klipper said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Over the last decade, Barnes & Noble has balanced an average annual closing rate of 15 stores with 30 openings each year through 2009.

I live near two Barnes & Noble stores - one is 10 miles north of me and another is 6 miles west of me - and if only one of them survives the store purge, I will be happy enough.  Having spent a good bit of money, and a whole lot of time, in both the stores, I can easily predict which is most likely to make the cut. That I am already willing to drive to the store farthest from my home rather than visiting the one closest to me, tells the tale.

I have long been outspoken about what is happening in publishing and bookselling today.  And I have come down hard on the side of brick and mortar bookstores and physical copies of books (that I cannot for very long resist calling tree-books - sorry about that).  But, bottom line, I am a realist.  I know that the publishing industry is being changed in ways that will become the new norm. And that is not a bad thing.  E-books and e-readers have their place, and as someone who has always embraced new technology, I am happy about that.  I have owned an e-reader for years and have all the e-reader apps on my phone and iPad.  I do get it.

But when someone like Kim LaCapria, who describes herself as a woman who has achieved "international fame and fortune as a writer," comes along and wants to ridicule people like me, it's game on.  We are not "luddites" or "book huggers," lady, nor do we need "to get a grip." 

Our internationally famous and wealthy writer friend (perhaps she is a legend in her own mind) does seem to struggle a bit with punctuation and recognizing sentence fragments when she writes one, but she sums up her sarcasm this way:
 For time and resource strapped readers, the death of the physical book opens up a world of possibility that even ten years ago barely existed, and we should, all of us, express gratitude that books have been once more made accessible to anyone with a smartphone and access to the Kindle Top 100 Free list.
So please perspectivize the Barnes & Noble closing news outside the feeling that “real books” are “warmer” or somehow more authentic. They are not, and this whole elitist idea that a more level playing field for publishing and the ability to wake up the morning of a new release with the title waiting on your device is somehow not the most awesome thing that has happened to books since libraries.

So, folks, if you can live with reading the garbage that generally populates the Kindle Top 100 Free list, you should be happy.  Just don't expect to get many bargains prices on those new bestsellers on the morning they are published and delivered to your e-reader.

Another of my favorite bits of Kim's Inquisitr.com piece (in which she seems not to understand the difference between "actual" and "actually") is this one:
And while book fans — a vocal bunch who seem to spend more time posting sanctimonious graphics on Facebook about bookophilia than they do reading actually books — are not too pleased with the news, it is probably actually more a positive than a negative for the publishing industry.

How dare you sanctimonious book fans do such a thing?

Kim, your argument is not necessarily a bad one.  But the tone in which you deliver it is so distracting that you are wasting your breath if you really want anyone to take that piece seriously.

Get a grip.


  1. Wow her comments are so annoying. I happen to one of those who posts book graphics on Facebook. You should see my collection of reading collected graphics and art on my computer - I just love books and reading so much it's traveled over to finding images of books and reading art gorgeous and inspiring. I think many agree.

    I also somehow manage to make time to read over 100 books a year, so I must miraculously be fitting that time in between posting "sanctimonious photos"

    I'm not surprised on the Nook sales. I'm sure it's a good product but Amazon has seemed to winning that war for awhile.

    I do think Ebooks have hurt bookstore sales dramatically - but I think it goes beyond that. I think people have stopped reading as much way before this, and book sales had already been hurt and would continue to decline.

  2. It's 'bibliophilia' not 'bookophilia.' Either way it's a much better thing than 'nookophilia.'

  3. Erin, "annoying" is almost too kind an adjective to describe the tone of this woman's article. Rubbing salt in the wound is the fact that such a condescending piece comes from a woman who writes so poorly.

  4. James, I love that play on words...thanks for the smile.