In an emphatic act of faith in both physical bookselling and printed books, Barnes & Noble has announced that it is to open 50 new bookstores across the US this year. This will take the groups portfolio up to 659 shops, up from around 600 two years ago.
MD James Daunt said that book sales were particularly strong for the chain, adding that the company had enjoyed a very solid holiday season. He said: A good year on top of a prior good year is particularly nice to have.
He cited Spare by Prince Harry, James McBrides Heaven and Earth, David Granns The Wager, and Rebecca Yarross two novels, Iron Flame and Fourth Wing as all performing well. Looking ahead this year, he has high hopes for Sarah J. Maas soon-to-be released House of Flame and Shadow, the newest volume in Maass Crescent City series, and pointing to the strong performances for books by Liz Cheney and Cassidy Davidson in 2023, he also hopes that the presidential election may reignite sales of political books this year.
He reported strong foot traffic and sales at the chains cafes and newsstands and gave a shout out to Taylor Swift for driving newsstand sales (the singer made the cover of Time magazine in December). An improved supply chain also enabled stores to keep holiday season titles in stock for longer.
In interesting comments to PW, Daunt noted that employees at five B&N stores had voted to unionize and talks were underway with each to reach new contracts. He observed that employees at independent bookstores are also unionizing, and notes that this is now becoming a fact of life for bookstores. He concluded that investing in career structures, and the training and development associated with those programs is a key priority.