Even in this crowd of bizarre outfits, Rose stands out.
Hey, bibliophiles! Short on dough but craving some new food for thought? We feel your pain. The greater Boston area is full of great used and antiquarian bookstores; perfect to pad out your bookshelf while going easy on your wallet (and the environment). Here, a look at the top spots in the Boston area. Now get reading!
—Nicole Cammorata, Boston.com Staff
Barnes & Noble
· Forecast store closings 2013: 190 to 240, per company comments
· Number of U.S. stores: 689
· One-year stock performance: 8.95 percent
The move by customers away from print books toward digital books has hurt Barnes & Noble Inc.. Same-store sales during the nine-week holiday season fell by 8.2 percent year-over-year. The bookseller has tried to offset the declines in physical book sales with its Nook e-book reader device, but sales of that device fell 13 percent compared to the previous year. The company already has begun cutting down the number of its stores in the past several years. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the head of the retail group at Barnes & Noble said he expected the company to have just 450 to 500 retail stores in 10 years.
Barnes & Noble has put out a genuinely impressive performance over the past several years. Here you have a retail chain, originating from a bookstore in New York City, that saw its industry being disrupted and rather nimbly decided it wanted to make a piece of computer hardware. And—amazingly—the Nook is a pretty good piece of computer hardware. If the iPad and the Galaxy Tab and the Microsoft Surface and the Kindle Fire didn't exist, you'd say the Nook was a revolutionary device.
The problem is that it's not the best such device on the market. Or even the second best. Or even the third best. And while some industries have room for many global players (think cars—GM, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, PSA, Honda, Renault, etc.) it looks like there's only room for two or three platforms in this game. And B&N doesn't have one. Today they announced that contrary to earlier reports, losses in the Nook division are going to grow this year rather than staying flat. And all sales across both the web and brick and mortar stores fell nearly 11 percent. They're doing an impressive job of staving off collapse in the face of massive disruption, but not good enough.
It makes me sad, personally. Before Barnes & Noble was a national bohemoth it was just my neighborhood bookstore, as I grew up blocks away from the original shop. I always liked to root for it against Borders. But it won't be long for this world.