In an investor conference Tuesday morning, Barnes & Noble executives painted an upbeat forecast for both the consumer book market in general and B&N in particular. The company forecast that the consumer book market will grow from $23 billion in 2010, to $27 billion in 2013, with all the growth coming from e-book sales. Sales of e-books will be $6 billion while sales of print books will fall by $2 billion. B&N is confident it will be one of the few places where people will buy e-books unlike the highly fragmented bricks-and-mortar market.
Still chairman Len Riggio said B&N will be in the retail market for “many many years.” Mitch Klipper said B&N will close now more than six to 10 stores annually over the next three years as leases expire (leases are up in 400 stores next four years). Riggio added that in many cases B&N will not be exiting markets, but closing a second store in the same market. Riggio predicted that stores that sell books as an afterthought (nonbookstores) and that don’t offer a digital bookselling option will get out of the market altogether. And while there will be consolidation in the core bookstore market, Riggio said that given B&N’s better numbers that competitors, the company “to be the one’s doing the consolidating.”
More on the investor conference later today and tomorrow.