31 October 11 | Chad W. Post

The Melville House blog has a really interesting post about the future of Barnes & Noble that links off to this piece by Rick Aristotle Munarriz.

Barnes & Noble is coming off another dreadful quarter. Back out the Nook and its digital downloads and you’ll find that sales actually fell by 11% at its superstores and college bookstores. Unlike Amazon.com (AMZN), which is routinely profitable throughout the year, Barnes & Noble posted a wider-than-expected deficit.

Coming up short has been a recurring theme for Barnes & Noble. The struggling retailer has missed Wall Street’s profit targets in each of the past six quarters, with five of those periods resulting in larger-than-forecasted losses. Analysts see Barnes & Noble posting a loss for all of fiscal 2012. They see a return to profitability come fiscal 2013, but we’ve seen how the prognosticators have overshot the chain’s reality in the past.

We’re now heading into the seasonally potent part of the year for Barnes & Noble, but how many holiday shoppers do you really think will be crowding the registers when they know that books and gifts can be bought cheaper online? Besides, now that so many people own a Kindle — and to a lesser extent a Nook — why insult gift recipients with an actual hardcover book?

This isn’t necessarily all that surprising, and helps fuel my deep hope that the fall of Borders and the contraction B&N will lead to a rise in quirky, community-centric indie stores. That said, how fucked is it that Books-A-Million! (punctuation and strange capitalization all theirs) is expanding into 41 previous Borders locations, meaning that the Southern-based, fourth-rate chain will now be in 31 states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin where they’re opening their first stores.

I know it’s terribly snobby to say this—especially considering I’ve only been in a single BAM! in my life—but it would be terribly sad if the only book chain left standing was this Wal-Mart inspired mess of a organization. I think they should be boycotted on extraneous exclamation point alone. (Says the guy who includes an average of 3 exclamation points per text and loves Los Campesinos! for the same textual over-exuberance.)


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