Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Daunt outlines plan for Barnes & Noble

In the US, Barnes & Noble (B&N) CEO James Daunt has outlined his strategy for the bookselling chain in a virtual Q&A with Book Industry Study Group executive director Brian O’Leary, reports the Bookseller.

Daunt, who was appointed CEO when private equity firm Elliott Advisors acquired the chain in June last year, said only 23 of the company’s 613 shops continued to trade during lockdown. While closed, about 350 shops received ‘substantial’ spruce-ups and layout changes, while most others received minor fixes.

Around a dozen B&N shops have also closed for good since Elliott Advisors’ acquisition. Daunt said the company shuttered loss-making locations where mall traffic had declined and rents were no longer ‘sensible’, with many shops in spaces too big and unjustifiable ‘in the age of Amazon’.

Daunt cautioned that American publishers will have to get used to initial frontlist orders being made centrally, except for in the case of a small number of niche, local interest books, and added that initial roll-outs of new titles will no longer be in ‘vast numbers’, no matter how much a publisher wants a huge sell-in.

Daunt said this new system would drop the number of returns. ‘We need to put in much closer to the minimum a store can sell, and let the local team reorder, using our distribution centre stock to regulate and ensure fulfilment,’ Daunt said.

B&N is also reviewing its distribution process, has stopped the ‘inflow of huge amounts of promotion money B&N was famous for taking’, and is looking at changes to its membership program, which has six million members paying $25 a year.

Daunt also confirmed he would not be getting rid of B&N’s Nook ereading platform, and added that the company ‘should have a digital audio proposition—and as soon as we have a good one, we’ll launch it’.


Category: International news