Of Henny Penny and Bookstores: Barnes & Noble CEO Responds
In response to a recent opinion piece posted on Rocklin & Roseville Today titled "Barnes & Noble: Gone By New Year's?", Barnes & Noble Chief Executive Officer, Michael P. Huseby, contacted our office to respond. Here is his complete, unedited response.
If you're in business - no matter what business - you know that having to listen to the odd Henny Penny is an occupational hazard.
You remember Henny Penny, the children's storybook character who felt an acorn drop on its head and believed the sky was falling. The folk tale has become the seminal example of a hysterical, uninformed and mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.
Recently, some Henny Pennys have begun clucking about the future of bookstores. The rise of digital content, online selling and broader retail distribution, they say, will kill bookstores. Why, they ask, will people go to a bookstore when they can buy books online or at department stores?
Feeding the hysteria are the bankruptcy two years ago of Borders, the national bookstore chain, and recent speculation that Barnes & Noble will accelerate its bookstore closings in coming years. Some have even suggested the demise of B&N is so imminent that gift cards should be used immediately upon receiving them because the company's financial foundations are shaky.
To paraphrase one of our nation's great writers, Mark Twain, the reports of bookstores' death have been greatly exaggerated. Here are the facts:
Barnes & Noble has not adjusted its plan for store closings. Historically, we have closed about 15 stores a year for the past 10 years. Of that number, some of the stores were closed because they were unprofitable, while others were relocations to better properties. Barnes & Noble has great real estate in prime locations and the company's new management team is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term.
Why are we so committed? There are several reasons, all focused on delighting our customers. No other retailer can match the selection of books available at every Barnes & Noble location, supported by award-winning customer service. Just look at the success of last holiday season to see if we are getting it right.
Our financial foundation is solid, and we have a strong balance sheet.
Barnes & Noble ended the most recent quarter with $490 million in cash, $276 million higher than the prior year, with no draw on its $1 billion credit facility.
As for the threat of the digital revolution, Barnes & Noble has one of the industry's leading E-commerce sites in BN.com, as well as world-class fulfillment centers. In fact, Barnes & Noble can offer something online-only competitors cannot -- a unique in-store experience that allows our customers to interact with knowledgeable booksellers who provide exceptional customer service.
We also have one of the best e-readers on the market - the NOOK. Given the competitive landscape, we are extremely proud of all we have accomplished with the NOOK business. In fact, while we may not be a consumer electronics retailer, we have sold more than 10 million NOOK devices because we offer a great reading experience, unmatched content, and we have an army of booksellers supporting them.
Behind these offerings are our strong partnerships with industry leaders like Microsoft and Pearson. They say you can judge someone by the company they keep - and we keep some pretty good company.
Moreover, we have strong relationships with our publishing partners and our prices are competitive with any other outlet selling books. Plus our stores offer a broad range and deep selection of books, including not only bestsellers but also the backlist. The upshot: Publishers want to work with Barnes & Noble because we understand and support the business.
Here's the kicker that no Henny Penny wants to hear. People are actually coming back to bookstores more often than they have in years. Improving bookstores sales trends during fiscal 2014 indicate that customers are reigniting their love affair with physical books. This trend supports industry reports that suggest eBook growth has moderated and was essentially flat in 2013.
As this trend continues, we believe we are well positioned to delight our customers on whatever platform they choose to connect with us -- in our stores and online, and digitally on our NOOK platform. And we back it up with more than 40,000 knowledgeable booksellers across the country ready to recommend every customer's next great read.
We have openly acknowledged the challenges within our business and the industry and are adapting to the changing business. But, the next time Henny Pennys suggest that the sky is falling on bookstores, don't take their word for it. Step into your local Barnes & Noble store and enjoy the extraordinary experience that delights millions of our customers every day and has made us one of the most beloved brands in the country.
Barnes & Noble
1256 Galleria Blvd
Roseville, CA 95678
Pet Care | Real Estate | Restaurants | Tech | View All | * Add/Upgrade Business
Placer County News HeadlinesRoseville Man Arrested in House Party RobberyBrent Leo Alan Mason, age 19 of Roseville, was arrested without incident at an apartment complex in Rocklin
Pink By The Pool September 17th at Thunder Valley CasinoThe Placer Breast Cancer Foundation is hosting the annual Pink By The Pool fundraising event, Thursday, Sept. 17 at Thunder Valley Casino.
Feed My Starving Children Dinner in Roseville September 12thROSEVILLE - The annual Feed My Starving Children dinner on Sept. 12th will help raise money to pack meals for malnourished children around the world
O2 breathe Walk in Roseville set for October 10thO2 breathe fundraising Walk, benefiting the Pulmonary Hypertension Association on Saturday, October 10, 2015 at Maidu Park in Roseville.
Roseville Gas Price Battle: Costco vs. Sam's ClubRoseville, CA - Roseville gas prices continue to drop bringing welcome relief to motorists. The price war between Costco and Sam's Club in Roseville continues to benefit consumers
California Fire Updates Summary (8-29-15)California Fire Updates 2015: Although 6,300 firefighters remain on the lines battling 13 active wildfires, crews made significant progress over the past couple of days.
Retired Navy Captain Assists Returning VetsTom Mayhew was only 6 when he watched his father march his mother down the hall of their El Paso, Texas, home with a rifle pointed at her back.
Toyota Highlander continues to shine as midsize SUVOne of the most highly-rated midsize sport utility vehicles is the Toyota Highlander, a sensible, well designed crossover.
WJU Gala to Honor Four Esteemed AlumniROCKLIN, Calif. - William Jessup University will honor four esteemed alumni who are excelling in their respective fields of endeavor at its annual Jessup Gala
California Fire Update Summary (8-28-15)California Fire Updates 2015: A Red Flag Warning has been issued for Saturday from the Lake Tahoe region south through Mono County for high winds, increasing fire danger
Hacker Lab Jumpstarts Pursuit of Virtual RealityROCKLIN, CA--When three Sierra College students attended the July 24 Virtual Reality meet-up at Hacker Lab in Rocklin, they had no idea it would put them on the fast track
Sierra College Patrons to Meet September 8thRocklin, CA - The Patrons, a volunteer support group of the Sierra College Foundation, invite the public and those interested in becoming members of the organization
NEWS: In Case You Missed It