By: Gigaom
Barnes & Noble will close up to a third of its stores over the next decade
Barnes & Noble plans to close about 20 retail stores a year over the next ten years -- meaning it would have 450 to 500 stores in the next decade, down from 689 stores today.

Barnes & Noble plans to close about twenty retail stores a year over the next ten years, the company’s retail CEO Marshall Klipper told the Wall Street Journal. Today, there are 689 Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, plus 674 college stores.

The WSJ notes that “the chain shut an average of about 15 stores a year in the past decade, but until 2009 it also was opening 30 or more a year,” with a peak of 726 stores in 2008. Klipper may have chosen to talk to the WSJ to show investors that the company has a plan. He said that fewer than 20 of the chain’s retail stores are unprofitable.

Barnes & Noble is threatened by the shift to online book shopping at Amazon. The company has rolled out a host of Nook e-readers and tablets that face stiff competition in a market dominated by Kindle e-readers and saturated with cheap tablets from Amazon, Google, Apple and others. Barnes & Noble just delivered a terrible holiday earnings report, showing Nook, and retail sales all down, with a particularly large decline in Nook device sales. The company plans to spin off the Nook and college stores into a separate unit called Nook Media, with Microsoft and Pearson both holding stakes.

When Borders, then the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain, went bankrupt and liquidated all its stores in 2011, it seemed as if it could be good news for Barnes & Noble, which would have a chance to grab former Borders customers. But it appears that former Borders customers largely switched their book buying over to Amazon.

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