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Barnes & Noble closing one-third of its locations over the next decade

Jan. 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM  |  Updated Jan. 29, 2013 at 12:14 PM   |   Comments

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Barnes & Noble will shut down up to a third of its locations over the next decade, the LA Times reported Monday. The closures were prompted by a change in reading habits and the evolution of the digital era.

The book retailer's plan, is to shrink from their current 689 physical stores to somewhere between 450 to 500 stores in the next 10 years, according to Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group. The company expects to close 20 stores per year on average.

In the past, Barnes & Noble averaged 15 store-closures and 30 openings per year, but the surge of the digital era has taken a toll on the bookstore bringing the numbers down to only two openings in the current fiscal year, Klipper said in an interview.

Moreover, the bookstore failed to meet its revenue expectations during the 2012 holiday season, which was down 11% from the previous year, The Huffington Post reported. However, Klipper was optimistic about the $317 million the company received in earnings last year, which, according to him, would offset the losses from the Nook, the company's sole e-reader.

On the other hand, the company is hopeful about the future and remains "fully committed to the retail concept for the long term." The book retailer has opened two prototype stores and plans to test others this year. In addition, they are confident on the success of their college division, which includes 674 stores.

According to spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating, the company's store reductions are historically consistent with analysts expectations and projections, the Times reported.

"Barnes & Noble has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever," she said.

Though the company seems optimistic about its future in retail, there's no doubt it'll be a tough fight. According to Nielsen BookScan, as e-books and digital devices become user's preferred way to read, print book sales nationwide have dropped 22% over the past five years, the Post noted.

The digitization of the world is increasingly affecting retailers from all over the spectrum. Last week, the video rental shop, Blockbuster Inc. announced that it would be shutting down 300 more stores in the coming weeks.

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