Barnes & Noble CEO Len Riggio wrote an email to his booksellers telling them to brace “for a terrible holiday season, and expect the trend to continue well into 2009, and perhaps beyond.”
He said: “Never in all of the years I've been in business have I seen a worse outlook for the economy. And never in all my years as a bookseller have I seen a retail climate as poor as the one we are in. Nothing even close."
On Friday, Chicago book distributor IPG reaffirmed what everyone at Frankfurt was buzzing about: Borders is in real trouble. IPG is being very conservative in shipping orders to Borders, though it typically carries some $2 million worth of receivables. What prompted this notice? Borders informed IPG they will not pay any debt to the company for another two months due to “unexpectedly high returns.” Ouch.
Borders is in the midst of rolling out a new “concept” across the chain, which shrinks the book stock by 15% -- and once that’s full completed, a guesstimate would suggest it would shave a point or two off of publishers overall sales.
What’s this mean? Well, typically, independent retailers in the US rely on holiday sales to account for their profit for the year. A publicly traded chain like B&N, the dominant US bookseller, is somewhat insulated, from this but you can expect to hear of some indies closing coming year if Riggio’s prediction stays firm.
One indie in my home state of Texas closed quite suddenly just this week and it looks like pre-holiday closures are going to be a trend.