Barnes & Nobel to open 30 new stores
Barnes & Noble (B&N) has announced that it will open 30 new stores in 2023 and its British cousin Waterstones has just opened its 13th new store in 2022. Both moves show how physical bookshops have bounced back after the pandemic and continue to find ways to appeal to the public despite the ever-growing might of Amazon.
As it to emphasise this point, two of Barnes & Noble’s new stores in the Boston area will be in stores formerly occupied by Amazon. The other openings will bring B&N’s total number of stores to around 600, still down from its peak of around 725 fourteen years ago, but demonstration that physical bookselling – albeit backed by an online operation – is far from over.
James Daunt, CEO of both Barnes & Noble and Waterstone, told the Washington Post that the chain has experienced robust customer demand coming out of the pandemic as all booksellers benefited from people turning to books while stuck at home. The company also benefited from improvements it made to stores while they were closed. We’ve now got both the profitability and the confidence to start opening up stores again.”
A new store in Riverhead, New York, has higher shelving than B&N’s older, ‘big box’ stores, and creates a ‘maze’ like atmosphere, more like a traditional indie. Daunt said: “It creates a completely different browsing experience.”
Speaking of the company he inherited when he became CEO of B&N in 2019, he said: “It was running really bad bookstores that were dull, unengaging and dispirited. If you do that, your sales go down by a lot and you end up having to close stores.”
In the UK, Waterstones has opened 13 stores this year, bringing their total to around 311 stores. Luke Taylor, retail director, told the Bookseller: “This year has been an exceptionally busy year for us opening new bookshops. We have been busy across the United Kingdom, with an especially welcome major expansion to our presence in Northern Ireland. We are very thankful to our bookselling teams who have worked tirelessly to produce so many, and so excellent, new bookshops.”