Barnes & Noble will shut up to a third of its brick-and-mortar bookstores over the next decade as reading habits change and digital publications evolve, according to a new report.
The chain will end up with 450 to 500 stores in 10 years, down from the 689 physical stores it has now, according to Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group.
That evens out to about 20 stores shuttered yearly over the period, Klipper said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Over the last decade, Barnes & Noble has balanced an average annual closing rate of 15 stores with 30 openings each year through 2009.
"Of that number, some of the stores are unprofitable while others are relocations to better properties," spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said of the closures.
Since then, however, the growth rate has shriveled, with the company opening just two stores this fiscal year. Klipper told the Journal that the smaller physical footprint is "a good business model."
“You have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems," he said. "Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves."