From The New Yorker:
In redefining the company’s purpose, [Leonard] Riggio [Barnes & Noble CEO= is looking to emulate the very businesses Barnes & Noble once threatened. After two decades in which the number of independent booksellers decreased by half, those bookstores are now coming back. The American Booksellers Association noted a consistent increase in new store openings over the past seven years, with growth of more than thirty per cent. These include small urban stores, such as Brooklyn’s Greenlight and Word, but also regional chains, like Bull Moose, in New England.
In a recent phone interview, Riggio said he believes that the biggest shift in the book retail business (besides the one caused by the Internet and Amazon) was fundamentally demographic. Over the past fifteen years, as young Americans and their families returned to urban centers in significant numbers, the market for independent bookstores became viable once again. “The retailers that are now resurgent in those areas are typically populated by smaller stores, because the architecture of those spaces are small,” he said.
The only thing that he believes distinguishes new-generation independent bookstores from Barnes & Noble is better food and drink, which is something he hopes to capture in the new concept stores. Those stores will have Scandinavian-looking cafés with fully licensed bars, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.