A combination of bookstore attrition and its own startup efforts will make Amazon Books the fifth largest general bookstore chain in the U.S. based on the number of outlets. As BookExpo began, Amazon Books had opened seven outlets with confirmed plans to open six more before the end of the year.

Amazon Books’ accession couldn’t have been accomplished without the steady decline in the number of bookstore chains since 1991. In that year, there were 11 chains that had 13 or more outlets, with total outlets topping 3,000. In 2017, the five chains on our list had 1,076 outlets. Just since 2011 the store count has fallen by 32%.

Among the chains that closed between 1991 and 2011 were Borders, Crown Books, Bookland Stores, Encore Books, Lauriat’s, Kroch’s & Brentano’s, and Tower Books. The most recent round of closings featured two Christian chains, Family Christian and Cokesbury, plus Hastings Entertainment, a multimedia chain with books as its largest segment.

Amazon plans to open 13 bookstores by the end of 2017. These stores will represent the second largest addition of outlets between 2011 and 2017, behind only the roughly 30 stores added by Books-A-Million, a total which includes a number of former Borders stores that BAM acquired after Borders closed. A BAM spokesperson said that the chain is still “opportunistically opening stores.” He added, “We are committed to continuing to adapt and be creative as we navigate the ever-changing retail landscape.”

During the 2011–2017 period, industry leader Barnes & Noble had a net reduction of 71 outlets, although its store-closing pace has slowed in recent years. Now with 634 outlets, B&N has opened up several test stores since last fall and will evaluate results from the outlets before deciding what elements it may include in other stores.

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SOURCE: Publishers Weekly
Jim Milliot

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