Bookstores That Will Survive the Shift in Technology, Distribution and A Down Economy

Posted on February 28, 2011


Recently, Borders books, that other large us chain bookstore filed for bankruptcy and will close many stores.  What once seemed its stodgy counterpart, Barnes and Noble, has taken steps to remain financially solid with a transition to e-books built around its popular nook reader.  But recently, there was a dire announcement:

Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N) is suspending its dividend to preserve cash and declined to give a sales forecast for the final quarter of its fiscal year because of last week’s bankruptcy of largest direct rival Borders Group (BGPIQ.PK), sending its shares down more than 5 percent.The top U.S. bookstore chain, which put itself up for sale last summer, said sales at its namesake superstores open at least 15 months rose 7.3 percent over the holidays, fueled by the popularity of its Nook e-reader.

Sales at its College bookstore chain, which accounts for just under a quarter of overall business, fell 2.2 percent.

Barnes & Noble said it would suspend its quarterly dividend of 25 cents per share to invest in its digital book strategy. [Reuters via Yahoo]

The independent bookstore may just be the last great hope for brick and mortar book buying and that all important sport:  browsing.  Under financial pressure themselves, many have turned to in-house publishing.  Blackwell’s in London being one such example.

But McNally – Jackson Books in New York City’s owner, has her eye firmly on what the recipe for the success of the independent bookstore must be.  You need to know your neighborhood and your patrons and serve that neighborhood.  She introduced a publish on demand machine and it has been a salvation.  Her coffee shop is also an attraction.  The mix has been successful.  There is an excellent video of her store and her story at the Reuters website here.

Here’s a look at the espresso print on demand machine at work: