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美国最大实体书店的结局:沦为自己曾经打垮的竞争对手

王波非(Phil Wahba) 2019年06月26日

造成这家书店衰落的不是亚马逊,而是它自己。

图片来源:Jeffrey Greenberg—Universal Images Group via Getty Images

巴诺书店(Barnes & Noble)可能将迎来一个圆满的结局。这家在销售额连年萎缩的情况下仍然保持着美国最大规模的连锁书店已经被对冲基金Elliott Management和刚刚恢复元气的英国书店水石(Waterstones)以6.83亿美元收购。

任何零售商都很容易把衰败归咎于亚马逊(Amazon),不过总部位于纽约的巴诺书店的式微很大程度上是自己造成的。它试图用自己的Nook设备抗衡亚马逊的Kindle电子书阅读器,最后损失了超过10亿美元。它忽视了网站销售(一些预测认为,这家连锁书店只有7%的销售额来自于线上),在其20世纪90年代的鼎盛时期又让太多的大卖场型门店渐渐凋零。这些书店储存了太多销量不佳的“长尾”产品,充其量只算是名字光鲜的仓库。最后的结果就是:公司的最后一次可比销售额增长还是在2012年,即使它已经砍掉了那些表现最差的店面。

巴诺书店在私有化之后,调整起来会容易一些,措施可能包括这家连锁店曾经尝试过的做法:改造成带有咖啡馆甚至售卖酒类的更有活力的小型店面。[科尔士百货(Kohl’s)和诺德斯特龙百货(Nordstrom)也在试验这种削减规模,提高客流利润的方式。]Elliott暗示称它支持类似的做法,让每家门店更像是独立的本地书店。这类书店有许多都在繁荣发展[不像之前在2011年倒闭的书店巨头鲍德斯(Borders)],并表明零售店也可以打败亚马逊,只要它们做好零售。(财富中文网)

本文另一版本登载于《财富》杂志2019年7月刊,标题为《巴诺书店能否翻开新篇章?》。

译者:严匡正

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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