Tuesday, January 17, 2012

After Store Closings, Books Holding Their Own

Now that half of the United States’ bookstores have closed, you might hope to see an increase in customer traffic at the stores that remain open. There was some sign of this, looking back at Christmas-season sales. After the competing Borders chain liquidated earlier in the year, Barnes & Noble posted year-over-year same-store sales gains (though it is worth noting that the gains came from selling products other than books and magazines). The gains were slight but it was the first time that has happened at all since the bubble year of 2006. It was more of a mixed report from independent booksellers, with most holding their own, a handful reporting record sales volume, and others barely hanging on. Still, that is better than the uniformly gloomy reports of the previous four years. I believe it is a sign that the number of bookstores is no longer so far above a sustainable level.