Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015
Barnes & Noble just had a financial year end on May 2nd, and they have released the numbers.
There are some interesting indicators here, although I don’t claim to be an expert at this stuff.
Oh, that doesn’t mean that they were growing…overall, consolidated revenue year over year was down 4.9%.
I think they may be making some smart moves.
I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I have said all along that physical bookstores can survive, and some of them can thrive.
It’s pretty simple.
They can’t beat online in selection…you’d have to have a giant “back room”, and that would cost too much in rent (one of three major factors you are fighting: rent; salaries; and “shrinkage”, which is shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).
They can’t beat online in price…the overhead is much higher in a physical store…and it keeps getting higher.
So, what’s left?
Service and the shopping experience.
People have to want to knowingly pay more for your books, because they like you.
B&N is, for the second year, doing a “Get Pop-Cultured” event throughout July.
It mostly celebrates geeky things: Star Wars, time travel (including Doctor Who and Outlander), and manga. I thought it was more appropriate to cover it in one of my other blogs, so you can see more details here:
As a proud geek and with that bookstore manager experience, I can tell you: it looks to like they’ve put together some great IRL (In Real Life) events! People who go to them probably won’t want that branch to close.
Now, those aren’t really tied into books, although there are books for all of those. They aren’t pretending that those days are about books. During the call, Mike Huseby, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said as reported in this
“Beyond books, our toys and games and gift merchants continue to curate and impressive selection of products that appeal to our customer base as reflected in the growth of these departments, which continue to outperform other categories. Toys and games in particular grew 16% on top of the 12% increase of a year ago.”
That’s clearly part of their future. The margin on those physical items is much higher, and there can be a very different experience in buying a game or toy in person (I also used to manage a game store).
That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned books, even if their regular bookstore core sales did drop a bit.
One of the events, on July 13th, will feature readings of all of
“The read-a-thon will feature a variety of special guest readers, including authors and local celebrities…”
Note that it is “local celebrities”…that’s important, and part of the formula for success. Here in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the Golden State Warriors get involved, for example.
The next day will see the release of what will be one of the big books of the year
the first time published related novel to TKaM.
Okay, the obvious question for this blog: what about the NOOK?
It was terrible.
Device and accessory sales were down fully two-thirds for the year: 66.7%.
Digital content sales dropped more slowly, which makes sense…down 27.8% for the year.
Why does it make sense?
Even though people are largely away from buying NOOK devices, people who still have them continue to buy books for them.
As the devices fail over the next five years or so (or get lost/stolen or become severely outdated), those e-book sales and others will also decline.
Personally, I don’t expect NOOK hardware to come back strong. The e-books might find a market on other devices and other delivery systems.
The college bookstore sales (excluding new branches) were up 0.1% for the year…but Amazon has started into that market, so that’s dicey at best.
You can read the
for more details.
My guess? The NOOK disappears eventually, B&N stores stick around but morph into being less about books and more about other merchandise and events. That may be a threat to comic book stores…
investors seem unimpressed…the stock was down 2.98% over the past five days.
What do you think? Will B&N survive as a brick-and-mortar? Can they transform into a Big Bang Theory friendly business…and should they? Will books continue to be part of their brick-and-mortar business…in a way bigger than they are in your typical comic book store? Will you go to their events (maybe James Patterson day on the 26th)? Whither the NOOK? Are you over B&N or would you be sorry to see them go? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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