Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Barnes & Noble landlords nervous

From The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

A buyer for the book retailer could write a horror story for mall owners in a fragile retail economy.

Last update: August 15, 2010 - 4:04 PM

News last week that giant book retailer Barnes & Noble is putting itself up for sale sent tremors through a commercial real estate industry that's already struggling with record-high vacancy rates.

As a "bricks-and-mortar" business in a bookselling world that's rapidly adopting digital downloads, fears are creeping in that a new Barnes & Noble owner would seek to shed or downsize the leases of many of its 700-plus stores nationwide. And some pundits are speculating B&N and other mall-based bookselling chains ultimately could go the way of video rental and record stores decimated by digital downloading.

The nervousness is understandable in the wake of recent events in the bookselling space. B&N's main competitor, Borders Books, last year announced the closings of 200 of its smaller-format Waldenbooks outlets. B&N itself early this year shut down the last remnants of an iconic Minnesota brand, B. Dalton Booksellers, which in the 1980s numbered 800 stores.

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