Of Henny Penny and Bookstores: Barnes & Noble CEO Responds
SHARE with Friend
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
- Barnes & Noble: Gone By New Year's? (Wednesday, April 30, 2014)
If anyone gives you a Barnes & Noble gift card, be sure to cash it in by the end of the year.
Print This Article
Placer County News HeadlinesAuburn Woman Attacked Inside HomePlacer County sheriff's detectives are looking for a man who attacked a woman at her north Auburn home early this morning.
Western Nationals Softball Tournament in Roseville and LincolnASA Softball is bringing the Western Nationals for the Girls B 10U & 12U divisions to the Placer Valley Area. The event is six days long, taking place from July 28-August 3.
Tahoe Public Projects Garner AttentionTahoe Transportation District has been recognized nationally and by the state of Nevada for its positive impacts, collaborative initiatives, environmental enhancement, and service to the community's
Rocklin National Night Out Events August 5thEach community member is invited to join their neighborhood watch group and the Rocklin Police Department for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Recovery Plan for California Salmon and SteelheadNOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California's Central Valley
Rocklin Crime Report Digest Update (7.22.14)The Rocklin Police Department's crime report digest update for the period of July 15, 2014 - July 21, 2014.
Noodles & Company Opening Roseville and Rocklin LocationsNoodles & Company is opening two new locations in Roseville and Rocklin over the next two weeks.
Raley's Wins Telly AwardsRaley's has been awarded an astounding total of 24 Telly Awards in Commercial and Online Video categories
Summer Gas Prices Continue DroppingAverage retail gasoline prices in Sacramento have fallen 4.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.94/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 720 gas outlets
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Offers Solid ValueAlthough the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander went through a much-needed redesign this year, note that the Sport model only made minor changes.
Family of 5: Saving Big on TV, Internet and PhonesRecently, we decided to reevaluate our Comcast and AT&T services due to the combination of poor customer service and pricing issues.
57 Year Old Sentenced in Mailbox Destruction CaseRichard Lee Gray, 57, of Foresthill, was recently sentenced to one year in prison for destroying U.S. Post Office letter boxes, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and