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美國最大實體書店的結局:淪為自己曾經打垮的競爭對手

王波非(Phil Wahba) 2019年06月26日

造成這家書店衰落的不是亞馬遜,而是它自己。

圖片來源:Jeffrey Greenberg—Universal Images Group via Getty Images

巴諾書店(Barnes & Noble)可能將迎來一個圓滿的結局。這家在銷售額連年萎縮的情況下仍然保持著美國最大規模的連鎖書店已經被對沖基金Elliott Management和剛剛恢復元氣的英國書店水石(Waterstones)以6.83億美元收購。

任何零售商都很容易把衰敗歸咎于亞馬遜(Amazon),不過總部位于紐約的巴諾書店的式微很大程度上是自己造成的。它試圖用自己的Nook設備抗衡亞馬遜的Kindle電子書閱讀器,最后損失了超過10億美元。它忽視了網站銷售(一些預測認為,這家連鎖書店只有7%的銷售額來自于線上),在其20世紀90年代的鼎盛時期又讓太多的大賣場型門店漸漸凋零。這些書店儲存了太多銷量不佳的“長尾”產品,充其量只算是名字光鮮的倉庫。最后的結果就是:公司的最后一次可比銷售額增長還是在2012年,即使它已經砍掉了那些表現最差的店面。

巴諾書店在私有化之后,調整起來會容易一些,措施可能包括這家連鎖店曾經嘗試過的做法:改造成帶有咖啡館甚至售賣酒類的更有活力的小型店面。[科爾士百貨(Kohl’s)和諾德斯特龍百貨(Nordstrom)也在試驗這種削減規模,提高客流利潤的方式。]Elliott暗示稱它支持類似的做法,讓每家門店更像是獨立的本地書店。這類書店有許多都在繁榮發展[不像之前在2011年倒閉的書店巨頭鮑德斯(Borders)],并表明零售店也可以打敗亞馬遜,只要它們做好零售。(財富中文網)

本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年7月刊,標題為《巴諾書店能否翻開新篇章?》。

譯者:嚴匡正

The Barnes & Noble saga may yet have a happy ending. The retailer, still the largest U.S. bookstore chain despite years of shriveling sales, was bought by hedge fund ?Elliott Management along with newly revived British bookseller Waterstones in a $683 million deal.

It’s easy for any retailer to blame Amazon for its woes, but New York–based Barnes & Noble’s decline has been largely self-inflicted. It racked up more than $1 billion in losses trying to compete against Amazon’s Kindle e-reader with its own Nook device. It neglected its website (the chain gets only about 7% of sales online, according to some estimates), and it let too many of its big-box stores languish aesthetically in the 1990s, the retailer’s heyday. Those locations stock too much “long tail” merchandise and serve as glorified warehouses. The result: Its last year of comparable sales growth was 2012, even though it has shed its weakest stores.

Fixing Barnes & Noble, which will be easier to do as a private company, could involve something the chain has already been testing: smaller, more dynamic stores with cafés and even booze. (Downsizing to create more profitable footprints is also being tested by Kohl’s and Nordstrom.) Elliott has hinted that it backs similar moves to make each location more like a local independent bookstore. Many of those are thriving (unlike former megachain Borders, which went under in 2011) and showing that retailers can beat Amazon by being, well, retailers.

A version of this article appears in the July 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “Can Barnes & Noble Turn the Page?”

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