Nation & World

Barnes & Noble launching smaller prototype venues

Staff will carry 'checkout tablets'

An exterior of the new Barnes & Noble at The Village of Rochester Hills in Rochester Hills, Mich., on March 26, 2019. The 14,000 square foot store has a more wide open floor plan with lower profile bookshelves and more area for children’s books. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/TNS)
An exterior of the new Barnes & Noble at The Village of Rochester Hills in Rochester Hills, Mich., on March 26, 2019. The 14,000 square foot store has a more wide open floor plan with lower profile bookshelves and more area for children’s books. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/TNS)
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Following years of closing stores across the country, Barnes & Noble this week will open its first new Michigan bookstore in 13 years.

The 14,000-square-foot store at the Village of Rochester Hills shopping center was set to open Wednesday and will be the national bookseller’s 10th “prototype” bookstore of the future — and the first of its kind in the state.

The store is just over half the size of a traditional Barnes & Noble store and features a brighter interior with more cover-out book displays, lower bookshelves and plenty of non-book merchandise such as vinyl records, notebooks, board games, bottled water and Lego sets.

Staff will roam with checkout tablets, letting customers make purchases without the need to wait in the cash register line.

There is more dedicated shelf space for books on local history and local sports teams as well as more communal seating around the store’s Starbucks cafe.

Children can spend time at a Legos table and in the “story time” area.

For Barnes & Noble, the store’s modest real estate footprint could offer a less expensive way to lure customers away from rival internet websites such as Amazon.com and back to making impulse purchases inside physical bookstores.

Aside from the 10 new prototype stores, Barnes & Noble generally has been shutting down bricks-and-mortar locations amid flat or declining sales and less in-store foot traffic.

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In 2008, there were just under 800 Barnes & Noble stores nationwide. This January, the number of Barnes & Nobles was down to 627, according to the company’s corporate filings. All its B. Dalton bookstores were liquidated nearly a decade ago.

The prototype store carries fewer copies of books than tradition Barnes & Noble locations, but still has 34,000 titles under its roof, Frank Morabito, vice president of stores for Barnes & Noble, said Tuesday during a preview tour. He could not offer any estimate for the amount of books versus non-book merchandise was for sale.

“The focus is books, and we tell that story from the minute you enter the store,” he said.

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