Barnes & Noble Sees Growth in College Bookstores

by Rachel Baker on May 9, 2014

This is a good move by Barnes and Noble, if I’m not mistaken, they went back to their roots about 15 years ago also. Frankly, I think Amazon is beginning to overstretch themselves and its quite possible that if Barnes and Noble can just hang on they will reemerge in a market that welcomes them back with open arms.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) has diminished in size and stature, and we all know why. But in one aspect of its business, the prospects remain surprisingly cheery: college bookstores.

The company started life as a university bookstore in New York in 1965 and now operates almost 700 such stores around the country. It hopes to increase that number to 1,000 in the next five years, the head of the college business, Max Roberts, told Reuters. Why not? The college stores accounted for about one-quarter of the company’s total revenue last year and have already overtaken the regular stores in number.

So what will Barnes & Noble sell in its college stores? Surely not many more textbooks. Thanks to Amazon (AMZN) and digital textbooks, that’s a hopeless cause. “We want to make our stores the center of the community and appeal to other consumers, not just students,” Roberts said. By that, he means putting in bigger cafes, more clothes, maybe even Clinique (EL) cosmetic counters. Those, he said, are intended to appeal to international students buying gifts to bring back home on vacation.

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