In the age of online shopping, are bookstores irrelevant? The new CEO of big-box bookstore chain Barnes & Noble doesn’t think so. If they were, why would Amazon be opening physical bookstores across the country, with a new one opening in New York City tomorrow? He sees this growth as proof that bookstores are still relevant.
Demos Parneros joined Barnes & Noble last month after a long career with Staples, and doesn’t believe that the bookstore business is doomed.
“Amazon opening physical bookstores, that’s a bit of a validation that it’s a good business to be in,” told Fortune magazine in a recent interview.
He also pointed out that there are surviving bookstores other than Barnes & Noble and Amazon. “[T]he independents who are neighborhood favorites, that’s another sign that people do want places to go to buy books.”
Before Parneros arrived, the company blamed the fading popularity of adult coloring books and the lack of new Adele albums for its poor sales figures last holiday season. Can it move on and find a way to succeed without depending so heavily on specific products?
Parneros was a Staples executive for a long time, so he knows about running a huge number of stores. When asked whether the chain has too many stores, he said that he doesn’t think so. The stores that it still has may simply be too old and too large.
“The good news is that over next five years, 500 leases are up for renewal,” he noted.
The stores may be in locations that don’t work, or the chain may move or downsize. It’s still evaluating four prototype stores opened last year, including one with less sales floor space and a larger restaurant.