Barnes & Noble made shock waves last month when it was announced that their CEO was abruptly fired with no explanation. Publishers were immediately stunned; Demos Parneros was the fourth CEO B&N has had in five years. The news concerned many bookselling experts. And if publishers are concerned, does that mean that the last major bookselling chain is facing instability that it can’t hide anymore?
Will there be no more major book stores in the US in five years?
The bookseller giant’s founder Leonard Riggio is stepping in again temporarily (he previously stepped in as a temporary CEO the last time one left) to help stabilize matters. Riggio is trying to provide peace of mind to worried publishers by inviting them to private meetings.
These meetings don’t seem to have much details about B&N’s new plans, other than to regurgitate their ideas for new concept stores and smaller locations.
You can see why publishers are concerned.
If Barnes & Noble does go kaput, that will be a loss of 600 bookstores around the country, and the loss of a major distribution sources of books. All there will be left are the countless indie bookstores and the new Amazon Books stores that keep popping up, both of which seem to be doing well enough on their own. But it’s not the same thing as B&N.
Barnes & Noble is still a huge pipeline for publishers, and it’s one of the last great places for book visibility off the web. Publishers have a distribution channel through Barnes & Noble so it’s easy to have their books available in those 600 stores nationwide in a short time. In order to get books available in 600 independent bookstores, publishers would have to have relationships with all of those stores, or be on the same distribution network. It’s much less of a hassle to deal with B&N.
Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble has been floundering as it has been trying to adapt to survive. It has experimented with both opening restaurants in their physical stores and scaling down location size to cut costs
And with the recent news of Walmart joining forces with Kobo to distribute eBooks and eReaders in physical stores, it’s just another nail in B&N’s coffin.
Read more details about Barnes & Noble’s latest conundrum at the Berkshire Eagle.