Barnes &Noble, which this year opened a one-million-sq.-ft. warehouse in New Jersey, plans to open two 350,000-sq.-ft. warehouses in the fall of 1999 in Reno, Nev., and near Atlanta, Ga.

The warehouses are intended to serve B&N stores and barnesandnoble. com customers in the West and Southeast. However, in an unusual twist, the company stated that it is "studying the feasibility of making the extensive in-stock inventory and service levels of its expanded distribution system available to other booksellers and retailers." This conjures up images of major changes in the traditional world of retailing and wholesaling: chain retailer B&N acting like a wholesaler -- and supplying independents and other rival retailers.

The two new centers will stock more than one million titles. The New Jersey warehouse, which is bigger than the two planned warehouses combined, stocks some 400,000 titles, but obviously will have many more copies of them.

Compared to its main brick-and-mortar-store rival, Borders, B&N has traditionally bought fewer titles directly from publishers and relied more on wholesalers. The expansion of B&N's own warehouse capacity also parallels that of its major online bookselling competitor,, which continues to stock an ever-higher percentage of the titles it sells.