Barnes & Noble Closing Nearly 200 Stores: Suffering or Innovating?

Barnes and Nobles will begin closing doors to some 200 stores over the next decade, says the company's chief executive.

Battling an ever growing digital market of online books, Barnes and Nobles will begin what could become its inevitable demise. The company plans to close over a third of its retail stores over the next 10 years, company chief executive Mitchell Klipper told The Wall Street Journal.

Currently the company has 689 stores, but that number will drop significantly as the company braces itself for the digital generation. That number is already dwindling, in fact, from the 726 book stores Barnes and Noble had open in 2008. Last year Borders, the company's previous competitor, shut down the last of its remaining stores.

"You have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems," Klipper told the WSJ. "Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves."

The company's executives insist that the closing of certain stores however, does not mean the book chain's demise.

"Of that number [closing], some of the stores are unprofitable while others are relocations to better properties," spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told CNET. "Barnes & Noble has great real estate in prime locations and the company's management is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term."

Keating also said the number of closings were consistent with the company's business model projection adding that at least two new store prototypes were opened last year with more planned for 2013.

Barnes and Noble has also developed its own e-reader, the Nook, to help stave off competition. The tablet has fared well in the market, although it continues to face an uphill battle by having to offer more competitive features at lower prices- something "detrimental to the company's margins and earnings," a WSJ Market Watch report read last year.