Let’s just call it the Amazon.com impact. An executive for Barnes & Noble tells The Wall Street Journal that it will close down as many as 20 stores per year over the next 10 years — part of a plan by the retailer to focus on its most profitable stores.

Barnes & Noble also has curtailed the number of new store openings, with no openings in the past two years. But the company, which inked a partnership with Microsoft last year around its Nook digital reader business, isn’t tossing in the towel, even though other retailers such as Border’s and Tower Records have succumbed to Amazon.

Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble’s retail group, tells the Journal that the company’s retail operations represent a “good business model” — one that is “going to be around a long time.”

Barnes & Noble expects to have 450 to 500 physical retail stores in 10 years — down from 689 now and off from a peak of 728 in 2008. 

Barnes & Noble’s stock has risen nearly eight percent in the past year, yet its market value stands at just $773 million. By contrast, Amazon is valued at $125 billion, which means the online retailer could easily gobble up its brick-and-mortar rival if it chose to do so.

Rumors have circulated about Amazon’s intentions in brick-and-mortar retail, but if it decides to go that path some believe that the online retailer will take a more iconoclastic approach. [SeeAmazon.com should buy Coinstar: A tech prediction that makes a ton of sense].

Meanwhile, sales at Barnes & Noble continue to drop, down 12 percent during the holiday season. (Amazon is set to release earnings on Tuesday).

And Barnes & Noble’s digital future, via the Nook, also is hurting. According to the company, sales of the electronic reading device fell short of expectations in the key month of December.

“We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward,” said Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch.

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  • Guest

    Kudos to B&N’s CEO for identifying the shift in his business and planning accordingly. This may not be the most pleasant news for retail associates to hear, but it’s better to have pragmatism than delusion in the executive suite.

    • guest

      Speaking of delusion in the executive suite, why did Ballmer partner and invest a bunch of money with B&N again?

  • guy from pdx

    “…with no openings in the past two years.” Weird. B&N just opened a new store in Portland a couple months ago (in an old Border’s location). I think B&N has adopted well to the new world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/satish.shetty Satish Shetty

    Technology changing the ecosystem. E-books & mobile devices are changing how we purchase and read books.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ee2718 admin 1

    Hmmm. Companies partnering Microsoft seem to go down the toilet. Nokia, HTC, Corel, and now Barnes & Noble. There is a definite pattern there.

    • guest

      Your knowledge of history, like your logic, is defective.

  • reneemjones

    I was going to buy a Nook to reward B&N for fighting Microsoft. When they sold out, I took my business to Amazon instead.

    • grow a brain

      You wanted to reward B&N for violating MS’s IP and then refusing to pay them for it? You have an odd moral code, indeed.

  • Jesse Davis

    Former B&N stores should be made into public libraries since that what most of the people inside the stores were using them for anyway.

  • Dave

    Good for B&N for recognizing the need to close stores, but the real question will end up are they closing fast enough to adapt to the transformation that has been happening. Their same store sales cannot look good.

  • http://twitter.com/fijiaaron Aaron Evans

    And Blockbuster was closing its stores to compete with Netflix online.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vqnguyen2 Viet Q. Nguyen

    If they could infuse tablets with a paper smell, that’d be great. Nothing like going into a used bookstore and absorbing the smell.

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