I wrote couple of times in the past (here and here for example) on the lack of winning strategy at Barnes & Noble with regards to their 700+ brick and mortar stores. At the same time I was always wondering if I miss anything and somehow they do have a real good plan for the stores.
Now, after reading an interview with Leonard Rigio of B&N on Publishers Weekly I know they just don't have it. All they can offer is more of the same.
Rigio is of course very confident when he refers to the digital side of B&N, saying that "the company will continue with plans to aggressively transform itself into a major force in the sales of digital content." But what is his vision about the stores? Here's the plan:
Despite the possible bump in print sales over the holidays, it is clear fewer print books will be sold in bookstores in the future, forcing booksellers to find ways to make up for lost sales as well as to bring in customers, Riggio said. B&N stores "will remain chock-full of books," he said, and will continue to have the appearance of a grand library. But the company has already added more nonbook items, such as education games and toys, and the retailer will continue to test new initiatives over the holidays. And while the merchandise mix of the stores will change, Riggio said he doesn't expect the number of stores to change. "We tend to close a few stores every year at the end of their lease, and we move some stores to better locations. But over the next two to three years, I don't see the composition of our stores changing much at all," Riggio said.
So, if I summarize it, we'll have similar number of stores selling books and some more merchandise like toys and notebooks. This is far from being promising or even encouraging. These ideas are nothing new - Blockbuster, for example, tried to do something similar in the past and we all know where it ended. Not to mention that keeping the same number of stores operating doesn't sound too realistic.
These ideas certainly won't help to transform the stores from a liability back to an asset. If anything, this interview shows me that B&N is still very much in the dark when it comes to its bookstores. It's time for them to look for new ideas before it will be too late.
Raz @ Eco-Libris
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