Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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‘Solid’ year for B&N: Daunt

In the US, Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt has told Publishers Weekly that 2021 was ‘another year of solid growth’ for the chain, with sales for the first eight months of the year up around 5–6%.

Sales of books, toys, puzzles and educational games were all up, but the café and newsstand businesses have still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Sales at physical stores were up on 2020, while online sales dipped—though they are still up on 2019.

Daunt said backlist titles are driving the overall sales increase, sparked by the impact of BookTok, which Daunt said is a continuation of the trend of teenagers and young adults as the main drivers of book sales. ‘I don’t make money from old people, I make money from young people,’ Daunt said.

Daunt hopes to finish 2022 with a net gain in stores, but said the scarcity of building materials could prevent the chain from opening as many locations as he would like. B&N is also currently remodelling 30–40 stores with new furniture and fixtures.

A major focus for 2022 will be in the continued training of B&N’s booksellers, Daunt said, building on the shift to more local management control over the stores that Daunt has championed. As an example, stores have been keeping initial orders low and relying on managers for replenishment at the store level. Returns are now much lower than they were two years ago. ‘It’s not rocket science,’ Daunt said.


Category: International news