One of the more interesting retail histories in the book industry is that of Barnes and Noble (the history of the stores and the brand can be found HERE), with a number of locations having significant importance both as thriving retail spaces and as icons within the company. Sadly, the flagship 5th Avenue store, bought when Leonard Riggio, founder of the Student Book Exchange in 1965 and reviver of the then-flailing B&N brand, permanently closed its doors late yesterday.
While the news may have come as a surprise to customers or passersby, B&N announced in 2013 that it would be closing a number of stores over the course of this year. Despite its famous status within the company, the 5th Avenue location had transformed in recent years into one of B&N’s college bookstores, focusing primarily on textbooks and trade books. The location made it ripe for closure too, as it is only a few blocks from the very well-known and highly trafficked Union Square Barnes and Noble location.
Barnes and Noble still operates a strong college textbook selling presence, but as B&N pointed out in relation to this particular store closing, most college students buy their textbooks on campus; B&N actually operates a number of campus bookstores for that reason. Those who opt to shop online for course materials often end up at B&N’s online textbook store.
While this may be a wistful loss and certainly the fifty-six employees of the location will hopefully fare well, it is a move that makes sense for the company, given the location and the demographic of its customer base.