Barnes & Noble Still Doomed Despite Rising Profits

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 26 2013 3:36 PM

Barnes & Noble Still Doomed Despite Rising Profits

Here's some good news for Barnes & Noble—profits are up this quarter. Up quite a bit in fact, 13.7 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago.

So has the company miraculously found some way to save itself? Nope. Revenues are down 8 percent. The profit growth reflects skill at cost-cutting, not any reversal of the underlying doom of the enterprise. They fought the good fight with the Nook, but ultimately they couldn't beat the Kindle. And large impersonal book stores just aren't a kind of business that has a bright future.


This, incidentally, is what leveraged buyout shops and financial engineering should be good for in the business world. There's no point in managing Barnes & Noble for long-term growth at this point. But it's not as if nobody is going to ship at a brick and mortar book store next quarter. It's just that there's no future here. The company needs to got to the corporate equivalent of a hospice and be owned and managed by people who'll maximize the value of the existing assets rather than struggling too hard against the inevitable. Ideas that are lame and awful in the context of a company like Apple, make perfect sense in the context of a company where innovation and growth are clearly impossible.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.