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The Rise And Fall Of Barnes & Noble

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Before Amazon challenged Barnes & Noble the brick-and-mortar bookseller was one of the most prolific American chains during the twentieth century. This holiday season could be the most crucial one of Barnes & Noble's history. Its sales have been in a decline for six years as the bookseller cedes market share to Amazon and consumers turn to their phones or portable tablets instead of books. There's been a revolving door in the retailer's C-suite, and activist investors have piled on. Now, Barnes & Noble is considering a sale of its business after receiving interest from a handful of parties, including its so-called modern-day founder and executive chairman, Leonard Riggio, and reportedly, U.K. retailer W.H. Smith. Barnes & Noble must prove it can deliver sales growth in its core book business this holiday season. The retail industry as a whole is expected to benefit from strong consumer spending, with the average American household expected to spend $1,536 through the holidays, according to a survey by Deloitte. That's up 25 percent from a year ago. If Barnes & Noble can't grow sales against such a healthy, economic backdrop, the company could ultimately head down the same path as its former rival Borders, or shuttered Toys R Us or Sears, which is in bankruptcy court. All things considered, Barnes & Noble is feeling "highly anxious" and somewhat "paranoid" this holiday season, Riggio told CNBC. "We've done a lot of things this year to try to put ourselves on the right track and to get our comp-store sales number to head in the positive direction, ... and we are hoping that that comes — we are planning for it to come — during this holiday season." The company will report its fiscal second-quarter earnings on Nov. 20, where it could say more about expectations for its holiday quarter. In September, without giving a specific range, Barnes & Noble said it expected "improving sales trends, positive comps during the holiday period, better gross margins, and continued expense reductions" for the remainder of the year. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv predict same-store sales for fiscal second quarter will be down 1.75 percent, but then moderate in the holiday quarter, its fiscal third quarter ending Jan. 19, to drop only 0.25 percent. Last holiday season, the bookseller's sales tumbled more than 6 percent, with e-commerce sales also in the red. After the dismal results, the company slashed its staff. » Subscribe to CNBC: http://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC About CNBC: From 'Wall Street' to 'Main Street' to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: http://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Google+: http://cnb.cx/PlusCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: http://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC #Barnes&Noble This Holiday Season Could Seal Barnes & Noble's Fate As The Bookseller Considers Selling Itself
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Text Comments (2238)
IEJ7to1 *IEJ7654321* (3 days ago)
What are you talking about? I go here to buy books there.
Dion Kraft (8 days ago)
barnes/noble needs to shut down the coffee shop. Either you buy a book (which is sealed) or go away. Price match the books as well.
octo kid (9 days ago)
Theres a barnes and noble in my city
Daniel DuVal (9 days ago)
Melina Delgado (11 days ago)
They need to lower down prices and maybe we’ll come back lol
Ed KGD (12 days ago)
I have a lot of paper books (3 or 4 thousand), but I understand they gradually fade into the past.... Big problems to store them, to clean from dust. And paper books are really exprensive, especially academic and science. Some new and rare books are unavailable on hard copy, so e-books is the only way to read them. Heavy and thick books uncomfortable to carry to read on the trip. Paper books are good, but not always convenient.
K R (12 days ago)
Stupid people needs to feel if they can't learn. Come on for f sake, how many companies failed before for their example... Kodak, Blockbuster... Nah they should've made a plan and adapted while they were sitting on the beach
Fermin Reyes (12 days ago)
Amazon. Your welcome
Nazik Adam (12 days ago)
If books were cheaper I would by them, but the reality is, indeed often disappointing.
j e (13 days ago)
Why pay more when you can get it cheaper from Amazon? Or better yet you can find many free books online that are wonderful to read.
Cheezy Guacamole (14 days ago)
I use to go there at the mall to get one of those highlights magazines
C R (15 days ago)
*Ok, listen up Barnes and Nobles executives: shrink the number of stores you have; focus on developing a hybrid of a reserve high-end coffeeshop and bookstore (think Starbucks Reserve and it's appeal) AND do book sales! With Amazon, no one wants to pay full retail price for books. Something that will not go away anytime soon however, is the magic... the appeal that holding, paging, and interacting with a book has before you decide to purchase it–you can't get this from **Amazon.com**!*
KITTI (17 days ago)
For me I like the feeling of holding the book and read.
Alex K. (17 days ago)
B&N failed to do what Amazon did. Capturing the online retail market.
Artisen (18 days ago)
Barnes & Noble is my happy place
Serge the Blerge (18 days ago)
Paper books > ebooks ..... but, I would never pay full price for a book at a retail book store. You're essentially just throwing your money away. It's a portable piece of media, not clothing, not food. An exact same copy can be found on Amazon or eBay for a little to way cheaper. The cafe and reading areas and events help, but in the end, people just don't want to pay full retail price when they don't have to. ...and omg WHAT THE HELL is the deal with those grossly inflated DVD and blu-ray movie prices???
Wally West (19 days ago)
Barnes and Noble better not go bankrupt it’s literally my favorite bookstore ever! Just the feeling of going inside there. The nostalgia. The smell of freshly brewed coffee. The smell of the pages when I would open up a book. The comfortable chairs that I can sit on and read without any bother on my mind. It’s not just a store, it’s a part of my life. I can’t imagine a life without this bookstore.
Kyro Vlogz (22 days ago)
Just go to Goodwill and get $1-$3 books
pete chau (22 days ago)
I miss Borders Bookstores.
Buttons (23 days ago)
Ok but in the ad that little girl hit her head pretty hard, it was audible...
Mr Peco (23 days ago)
Yo you guys have the most interesting topics that matter to me I realize I’m very business minded But I feel like this stuff affects everyone keep up the good work
Cabezza De Vaca (25 days ago)
I used to be a regular Barnes and Noble customer for years but after the digital era I became totally converted to Ebook reading. They came up with the Nook, and at least in the beginning, they had terrible customer service that was so bad I gave up on them and they lost me. They may have improved customer service since but I wouldn’t know. The problem with books and bookstores is the price, and it is my understanding that the booksellers don’t set the price. And therefore, books, reading and culture will continue to go down until they do something about the absurdity of book pricing in this country.
bonbons (25 days ago)
My issue is the selection if books. I like niche books and mostly only read nonfiction. They just don't offer these books. I go to other countries and I can find them, or even used book stores, but the bug commercial stores dotn have them so I end up buying mostly online since there arent used bookstores where I live.
Edward Bruggeman (26 days ago)
In a nutshell it is because they charge far too much for their products. I prefer a real book but tryin to afford them is just not possible for $20 a pop when it takes maybe 2 days t read a book
Connie Carroll (26 days ago)
B&N isn't always more expensive. I was trying to find a book on Amazon, didn't like their price, went to B&N they had it much cheaper including S&H.
Lawrence Ospina (28 days ago)
Books are completly irrelevant now. No amount of written knowledge can help "humanity" or whatever it is you call what lives on this planet.
Rexy 1776 (1 month ago)
I read a lot and would prefer to go to a bookstore but the premium at B+N is ridiculous.
Gonzalo Felix Wharton Chavez (1 month ago)
Lv books:; showbiz n conspiracy n comics n showbiz-00bc-2099ad-magazines n newspapers
sportluver98 (1 month ago)
I miss boarders they were the best book store
KennyTheKid (1 month ago)
"What happened to Barnes and Noble?" Amazon
Peter Renevitz (1 month ago)
I will be with bookstores as long as they are with us. I like the ability to browse books and hold them in my hand before I commit to purchase. I too miss Borders, as well as Walden, Scribner's, Tower Books, and all the "mom and pop" stores. The Internet is great for some things - but for me books and clothes are two things I would rather buy in-store.
Stuey Griffith (1 month ago)
words... words... words.......
Tran Vo (1 month ago)
If they go out of business Amazon will eventually become a monopoly. But they need to lower their prices because I can find the same books on Amazon for way less
Majo L M (1 month ago)
I think the future are ebooks, so many trees have to be cutted for actual books. In general ebooks have so many more pros over actual books. Helps the planet, less space and weight and so on
Daniel Amade (1 month ago)
Dam Jackass (1 month ago)
OMG i bought my first book from Borders! dang, they shut down? this is a dangerous decade for books man
my life is a meme (1 month ago)
Literally all they have to do is price match amazon.
Mezcon (1 month ago)
It’s only a matter of time. :(
R Nanjappa (1 month ago)
Bookshops have a certain atmosphere and vibes. But they are expensive. Why should customers bear the escalating overheads? It is far cheaper and more convenient to buy online. And it saves time. The big shops are so impersonal. If we have to go to a bookshop, it should be shop for used books. B&N prices are higher. The name does not sell anymore.
Edø Strike (1 month ago)
It’ll be sad to see Barnes and Noble go. It’s like the Blockbuster of books.
Rhianna Martinez (1 month ago)
Yeah I mean I get it could possibly be more useful to read on devices but in my opinion it will never be the same as holding a book in your hand
Hailey Williams (1 month ago)
When they closed BN here in my neighborhood,the community was never the same.Interaction,exchanging ideas,meeting people,smelling books...people stopped communicating with each other and kids stopped sharing.THAT is the sad part.
Funeral Hall (1 month ago)
TheFedericohiguain2 (1 month ago)
As much as I love technology. Books are something you can’t replace with it, I just can’t stand reading from an iPad or even an ereader.
Ara0liver (1 month ago)
Amazon uses books as a loss leader in most cases. They sell them at cost or less, hoping you'll sign up for Prime ($119) and buy more expensive items. They're not providing you free wifi, AC/Heat, a cafe, people to read to your kids, author events, and a couch or bench so you can sit there all day and read a million books and magazines without buying anything, while also asking employees to find and suggest everything for you. Those things have costs, and they're reflected in the cost of the items in store. It's fine if you want to shop online for cheaper prices, but there's a great irony in that so many American people talk about how they only support companies that make things in the US even though that will cost more to help save us jobs, but will shop on Amazon to save a few bucks here and there and then lament when a retailer goes under. 5 million people in the US work retail. Maybe don't buy books at BN, but don't buy them on Amazon. Find an indy bookstore, or even go to Target or Walmart. Prime is 119 or 12.99 a month. It's not free shipping! You can't buy books at the cheaper price in Amazon's retail store unless you sign up for Prime. Audible "an Amazon Company" won't even let you accrue more than 6 credits at a time unless you're on their deluxe package but will happily charge you for them if you don't use them. You can only "cancel"/pause your subscription once a year w/o permanently cancelling your account unlike any other subscription service like Netflix or Hulu.
Shombie (1 month ago)
Aging Baby Boomer, I have to enlarge and convert text to white-on-black on a screen. Even large print books are difficult.
Cole Phelps (1 month ago)
Forgot all about Walden Books! I remember Crown Books. But yeah, Barnes and Noble did it right for a long time.
KoshiiNeko (1 month ago)
I hope it doesn’t go
don dfactor (1 month ago)
A vinyl record today is very expensive.. some collections are worth millions. A new age dj watching an old-school disc jock spin and mix vinyl on a turntable is like a kid watching a magician. We embrace technology but there's just something about old-school.., I can't quite put my finger on it.. No pun intended
Sonya Lum (1 month ago)
I miss it. What goes up must come down!
Luna The Maltipoo (1 month ago)
No borders no Barnes and nobles
Ravi Sriram (1 month ago)
They put many independent booksellers out of business, plus their prices weren't exactly anything to write home about. The irony is, they became victims of their own success and the downturn in the print business undoubtedly played a factor in their decline as well. We still have some stores here in New York which I like to visit. Interestingly, Amazon recently opened a physical bookstore in midtown Manhattan which, by all accounts, appears to be doing okay. So much for the digital age.
WhiteRoseHichigo79 (1 month ago)
my Barnes and Noble is very sucessful. i love physical books to read. <3 #Iheartbooks. weebs also love their manga and funko pop's are selling there like hot cakes.
Peter Koin (1 month ago)
Borders is super dead. I remember them closing in the biggest mall in Puerto Rico; Plaza Las Amerikas. Still have my Scott Pilgrim books, Inuyasha and Walking Dead comics from it. Man and people played chess! Hahaha good times. B&N also never have the books you'd want. But they'll order it for you for a higher price than amazon. lol or you can get it delivered for cheaper HA com' on
49jubilee (1 month ago)
Same😔 as borders?
na x (1 month ago)
I blame those people who just go into read and not buy the books themselves.
Kris 8813 (1 month ago)
Dam barns and nobles is like super popular in my area
Ray B (1 month ago)
they need to go digital to stay relevant
Iamasillyboy Yesiam (1 month ago)
I really hope it doesnt die i love spending the day in there reading books and thumbing threw magazines. I would be sad to see another brick and mortar store give way to the convenience of the internet. Because as wonderful as the internet is it still is not the same as an actual in store shopping experience.
Iamasillyboy Yesiam (1 month ago)
Hey dont forget borders? Before they closed they also had a big chunck of the market
pkunkbwok (1 month ago)
So not sorry. After all the bookstores these guys and Borders put out of business... it's like the head of the Stazi finally getting theirs in the back of the neck
jdareyah (1 month ago)
I go to B&N to read the books, then go to Amazon to buy the book used for $20-30 cheaper
jdareyah (1 month ago)
So Barnes and Noble was the biggest of his day decades ago. So who will knock Amazon out of business? Amazon stretching themselves way too thin going to many industries ...they doom to fail in a few decades
Clueless Kanna (1 month ago)
Borders didn’t go bankrupt I still go to borders once a month or so to get myself a new book
Cristopher Schwartz (1 month ago)
The way you MADE money is not the way YOUR GOING TO Make money. It’s a dying set up. People come in. Use your products, and then. Buy them from your competitor while at your location. The down fall was no specials/ sales and the coffee shops that allow you to browse or hell, fully read them while drinking a $2 cup of coffee. All the joke, eclectic, payroll, insurance are all still the same or going up. It’s not a sustained business model.
Jason Lefler (1 month ago)
I remember seeing a headline a year or two ago that roughly read, Barnes & Noble Is Amazon’s Showroom. Never mind how brutally accurate that headline was/is. The article mentioned that BN had $13 million in cash while carrying $192 million in debt. Good Christ.
Effy Traveler (1 month ago)
B&N is too expensive. They should have more sales because honestly when a book is 29.99 or even 19.99, you have to remember how many hours work have to do to make enough for one book, plus tax and online options are much cheaper. I get it they have overhead costs. I just find it that the stores are ending up as storage space with books not flying off the shelves as compared to warehouses. Some cities people have to drive to the bookstores. Why would they drive for one expensive book?
Its ASetUp (1 month ago)
Was such a good place to meet women. Now, would be there for books.
Kittenlike (1 month ago)
Is this news story aimed at 10-year-olds? Why open with an explanation that books used to exist in hardcopies? Many of us still own and buy books printed on paper. They are not extinct yet.
Massachusetts Mapping (1 month ago)
Ikr. Print books aren't going extinct anytime soon, and they're as relevant as ever.
Sebastien Sade (1 month ago)
The entire publishing industry is tittering on the edge of collapse. The costs of publishing and selling a physical book cannot compete with digital self-publishing that now rules the market.
Eli Lopez (1 month ago)
Price match
Jose Ruiz (1 month ago)
The Millennials don't read books!
Magdeline Adler (1 month ago)
I'm fine with my local library and Amazon. And I'm glad small, local bookstores are making a comeback. Barnes and Noble is way too expensive.
LaToya Michelle (1 month ago)
I could easily spend a day in Barnes and Noble.
Howard Kerr (1 month ago)
Not an "answer", just some observations: A cafe in a book store is okay, I guess, but from my (casual) observation you can't eat a meal at B&N, so it's a tradeoff. A lot of folks in the cafe and at the little benches and chairs read, but do not buy books/magazines, to me, B&N has become more of a library than a bookseller. If folks are not buying books/magazines but reading them in the store....are prices too high or does B&N need to make it more difficult to get comfortable and read in their stores? With BORDERS gone, I finally became a B&N "regular". I don't have many magazines that I subscribe to, so it is nice to find a good selection at one location. As far as books, I like to skim a book before buying, so I appreciate a good book store. I realized after being a B&N member for 3-4 years that I wasn't buying enough books and magazines to make it worthwhile. I live within 60-65 miles of 4 B&N locations, 2 sell CDs and DVDs, which is nice and I bought quite a few when I was a card member. I am a Luddite, so I wish all locations sold music and movies, but understand why they can't. Bottom line for me? I don't buy online when a local business carries the same product. I don't understand why a hard cover book LISTS for $37....yet when it hits the stores it arrives with a big sticker on the cover "30% off". I can't help wondering if a huge part of Barnes and Nobles "problems" are their own making.
Ingrid Corrigan (1 month ago)
I go to barns and noble like everyday they have so many movies and shows to buy
Moun Valley (1 month ago)
You guys may think your getting the better end of the stick if your buying from amazon just because books are cheeper than in barnes. But the moment B&N close down what do you guys think is going to happen? With B&N gone and amazon being the only large distributor of books (and several other merchandise) prices of books will sky rocket or raise little by little ea. year because there is no one who can compete with amazon anymore a 9.99 paperback will then cost 19.99- 24.99 once B&N is out of the picture. Think about that guys do you really want this to happen? enjoying a short term gain for a soon long term repercussion? Im a B&N Member and im gonna continue to buy from B&N just to not let amazon be the monopoly of enjoyable brain food.
Andrew Frazier (1 month ago)
Because u can read most books online for free or its alot cheaper
MsJubjubbird (1 month ago)
Libraries are also a lot better than they used to be. My local will order anything I want for me. SO I can read it for free- and so can 50 other people.
San Ansa (1 month ago)
its a shame, because I when I was younger I used to go to Borders and Barnes & Noble, for hours on end, getting a variety of books and hanging out drinking coffee at the cafe. I purchased quite a few books, music and magazines there over the years. You really don't get the same experience trying to get a sense of what's out there with books just by looking on Amazon. You can leaf through so much in a few hours in a book stores. Its a much more pleasant experience than only having the public library. I would still be going to B & N if I was younger, but my eyes are going on me, so I need to read on the computer and zoom the text larger.
Tsetsi (1 month ago)
Why dont they just sell themselves to Amazon and settle the score?
DJMinor5000 (1 month ago)
When Barnes & Noble expanded, they put all the independent bookstores out of business. They get what they deserve now that online book retailers are having a negative effect on them. As mentioned in previous comments, B&N charges full retail for most of their books, so you wonder why consumers are seeking out cheaper priced options online. The last thing: B&N is making their stores more user unfriendly by reducing the seating within the store which keeps customers in there longer and would make them more likely to purchase something there. I’m sure that many potential customers go there to just look at the books, then they can go online to Amazon while in the store to order it. Most of the bargain books at B&N suck.
Keith Bell (2 months ago)
I hope they recover. Everytime I walk in a mall and see a Barnes and Nobles- I am instantly drawn to it. There is just something nostalgic about a bonafide bookstore with REAL FRIGGIN BOOKS that the online alternative will never replicate.
Gerry Nightingale (2 months ago)
*What happened to 'Barnes & Noble?'*  Uh...the years 2008/9 is 'what happened'.*Any business highly dependent on 'foot-traffic' has suffered since then, and 'books' are dead-last of 'stuff we need' when people have to take speed to work 3 and 4 jobs just to survive*
twistr (2 months ago)
Mane ain't nobody got time for reading
Elaine Evans (2 months ago)
We don't have them in Australia.
Lion Enduro (2 months ago)
We should burn all the books
Lion Enduro (2 months ago)
I hate reading I hope books die
dolamike584 (2 months ago)
Reading off a digital screen is not healthy for your brain to absorb the information.
dolamike584 (2 months ago)
Company Man videos are the best vids on businesses rise and falls.
LoveIsLovely (2 months ago)
When the next Solar Storm hits the Earth, all digital material will be erased or damaged. Then, paper books will be our history. If we don't burn them ...
R. H. (2 months ago)
Jeff Bezos. That's what...
C Bonito (2 months ago)
For me, walking into a book store is like a child walking into a candy store. I have been to several of their stores. Not a fan of corporate chains. Employees were rude and books overpriced. After my last visit, I said I will go online for cheaper books. If I spot a mom and pop book store I go in and purchase a few books. They are quaint and have some rare books that I have not seen at chain bookstores. I can see why these chains close.
Gisselle A (2 months ago)
I like audiobooks
FNAF Person (2 months ago)
I still love Barnes in noble
First Name (2 months ago)
People actually read books? I hate reading and don't want to spend my time on it.
Bobby Paluga (2 months ago)
My kids and I would dash down to Borders where we do<#
Alejandro Molina (2 months ago)
I don't think Barnes and Noble will survive, sadly. I hope they do. But unless they make a radical new change to their stores, I don't see it happening. Maybe adding as simple as chairs will make that difference. Or maybe kiosks to find books easier, or find books similar to the one you're looking and/or have, or just pre-order a book there. Asmall difference could keep the book store open a little while longer.
Massachusetts Mapping (1 month ago)
The changes I would make would be, more chairs not just 2 for people to hog and fall sleep in, larger selection and actually sell in store, like when I went to my local B&N, when I asked for a particular book, they said I'd have to get it ordered then pick it up on a separate date, make computers that customers can look up where the books are themselves, and make the cafes less crowded.
Ryu E (2 months ago)
Having a physical book is much better then looking at a damn screen, Barnes and noble is an amazing place to hangout
Timothy Harrison (2 months ago)
The internet is what happened