Major Bricks-and-Mortar Chain Booksellers
The major bricks-and-mortar bookstore chains are especially important to publishers and authors for their potential ability to buy and sell large quantities of new books and to stock backlist sellers, as well as their ability to promote books to the book-buying public through chain-wide bookstore promotions.
The chain begun by Len Riggio when he was still a college bookstore manager is arguably the largest and most forward-thinking chain bookseller in the nation. Early in its history, Barnes & Noble differentiated itself with a number of bookselling innovations including television advertising, “value” pricing, publishing proprietary books, and deep discounting of bestsellers, and has remained on the forefront of bookselling in all its iterations, including online (bn.com) and e-books, with its Nook e-reader.
The Barnes & Noble Bookseller chain operates approximately 700 bricks-and-mortar retail bookstores in regional shopping malls, major strip centers and freestanding locations in 50 states, and 636 college bookstores across the United States.
Read more about the history of Barnes & Noble and Len Riggio.
Books-A-Million (or BAM, as it is often referred to) is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and operates approximately 250 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The chain was founded in 1917 as a street corner newsstand in Florence, Alabama. Since the closing of the Borders Group bookstore chain, it has been the second largest bricks-and-mortar book retailer in the United States.
The acknowledged originator of the book “superstore” concept and once the second-largest bookstore chain in the U.S., the Borders Group a publicly held bookstore chain that operated Borders superstores and Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment stores, including Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders airport stores. The last Borders store closed in September of 2011.
Read about the origins, the history and the demise of the ill-fated Borders Group.
Major Independent Bricks-and Mortar Booksellers
Throughout the United States there are number of major independent booksellers, most with one or a few outlets, too few or too localized to be considered “chain bookstores.” These independents are influential in the publishing industry not only because of their ability to move quantities of books (relative to many other independent bookstores), but because of their great reputations in their respective communities, the loyalty of their customer base and the business savvy of their ownership, who have continued to be committed to bookselling through a tough and volatile business landscape.
Some major independents in the United States include:
The landscape for major U.S. booksellers includes not only bricks-and-mortar stores (both chains and independents), but also online booksellers, such as Amazon.com, BN.com, which sell both print books and e-books, as well as Google eBookstore and Apple’s iBookstore, which sell e-books, exclusively. Read about the rise of e-books here.