âOur stores are not going anywhere,â Thats the ceo of barnes and nobles thinking that their stores are here to stay, hah....right. Barnes and nobles is the next to close all their doors, in 5 years you will be lucky to see a book floating on a shelf as everything in print goes digital, when millions and millions of e-readers are selling I think that should be a little hint that the book is on the way out. I have no clue why they think they can continue to operate, they cant, the nook has helped them, but even they know the nook means an end to books, so why they think they can keep hanging on to their stores is beyond me. They can make as many changes to their stores as they want, but that still wont change a thing as book sales will continue and continue and continue to decline in the years to come. The Bookstoreâs Last Stand The New York Times | January 28, 2012 | 07:28 PM EST In March 2009, an eternity ago in Silicon Valley, a small team of engineers here was in a big hurry to rethink the future of books. Not the paper-and-ink books that have been around since the days of Gutenberg, the ones that the doomsayers proclaim â with glee or dread â will go the way of vinyl records. No, the engineers were instead fixated on the forces that are upending the way books are published, sold, bought and read: e-books and e-readers. Working in secret, behind an unmarked door in a former bread bakery, they rushed to build a device that might capture the imagination of readers and maybe even save the book industry. They had six months to do it. Running this sprint was, of all companies, Barnes & Noble[ BKS 11.95 -0.02 (-0.17%) ], the giant that helped put so many independent booksellers out of business and that now finds itself locked in the fight of its life. What its engineers dreamed up was the Nook, a relative e-reader latecomer that has nonetheless become the great e-hope of Barnes & Noble and, in fact, of many in the book business. Several iterations later, the Nook and, by extension, Barnes & Noble, at times seem the only things standing between traditional book publishers and oblivion. Inside the great publishing houses â grand names like Macmillan, Penguin and Random House â there is a sense of unease about the long-term fate of Barnes & Noble, the last major bookstore chain standing. First, the megastores squeezed out the small players. (Think of Tom Hanksâs Fox & Sons Books to Meg Ryanâs Shop Around the Corner in the 1998 comedy, âYouâve Got Mailâ.) Then the chains themselves were gobbled up or driven under, as consumers turned to the Web. B. Dalton Bookseller and Crown Books are long gone. Borders collapsed last year. No one expects Barnes & Noble to disappear overnight. The worry is that it might slowly wither as more readers embrace e-books. What if all those store shelves vanished, and Barnes & Noble became little more than a cafe and a digital connection point? Such fears came to the fore in early January, when the company projected that it would lose even more money this year than Wall Street had expected. Its share price promptly tumbled 17 percent that day. Lurking behind all of this is Amazon.com[ AMZN 195.37 +2.054 (+1.06%) ], the dominant force in books online and the company that sets teeth on edge in publishing. From their perches in Midtown Manhattan, many publishing executives, editors and publicists view Amazon as the enemy â an adversary that, if unchecked, could threaten their industry and their livelihoods. Like many struggling businesses, book publishers are cutting costs and trimming work forces. Yes, electronic books are booming, sometimes profitably, but not many publishers want e-books to dominate print books. Amazonâs chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, wants to cut out the middleman â that is, traditional publishers â by publishing e-books directly. Which is why Barnes & Noble, once viewed as the brutal capitalist of the book trade, now seems so crucial to that industryâs future. Sure, you can buy bestsellers at Walmart [ WMT 60.71 -0.26 (-0.43%) ]and potboilers at the supermarket. But in many locales, Barnes & Noble is the only retailer offering a wide selection of books. If something were to happen to Barnes & Noble, if it were merely to scale back its ambitions, Amazon could become even more powerful and â well, the very thought makes publishers queasy. âIt would be like âThe Road,â â one publishing executive in New York said, half-jokingly, referring to the Cormac McCarthy novel. âThe post-apocalyptic world of publishing, with publishers pushing shopping carts down Broadway.â Shouldering the responsibilities of Barnes & Noble is one thing. Holding the fate of American book publishing in your hands is quite another. But William J. Lynch Jr., the C.E.O. of the company, says he is up for the battle. With all of three years of experience in bookselling, Mr. Lynch must pull off a balancing act that would be tricky even in good times. He must carve out a digital future for Barnes & Noble without forsaking its hard-copy past, all while his companyâs profit and share price are under pressure, his customers are fleeing to the Web and Amazon is circling. It might come as a surprise, but Mr. Lynch says Barnes & Noble is, in fact, a technology company. Never mind that it has 703 bookstores and operates in all 50 states. To the delight of publishers, he has pushed hard into e-books and, with the help of the well-reviewed Nook, even grabbed a lot of market share from Amazon. But he is playing David to Mr. Bezosâs Goliath. Barnes & Nobleâs stock closed on Friday at $11.95, putting the value of the company at $719 million. Amazonâs shares closed at $195.37, valuing Mr. Bezosâs company at $88 billion. âWe could sit here and bang our head against the wall and get sick about it like we do every week,â Mr. Lynch, 41, said of his companyâs stock price. But he contends that pushing into e-books with the Nook is the right way, and perhaps the only way, forward. âHad we not launched devices and spent the money we invested in the Nook, investors and analysts would have said, âBarnes & Noble is crazy, and theyâre going to go away,â â Mr. Lynch said. Before Mr. Lynch joined Barnes & Noble in 2009, he had never sold a book in his life. (The last book he read â on the Nook, he said last week â was âThe Spy Who Came In From the Cold,â by John le CarrÃ©.) Mr. Lynch came to the job from IAC/InterActiveCorp[ IACI 42.09 +0.61 (+1.47%) ], where he worked for HSN.com, the online outlet of the Home Shopping Network, and Gifts.com. And yet, in three years, he has won a remarkable number of fans in the upper echelons of the book world. Most publishers in New York canât say enough good things about him: smart, creative, tech-savvy â the list goes on. It helps that he has forged the friendliest relations between publishers and Barnes & Noble in recent memory. They are, after all, in this together. Mr. Lynch grew up in Dallas and still speaks with a hint of Texas twang. But he has the foot-tapping intensity of a tech type running on four Mountain Dews. It seems fitting, then, that he usually works out of an office in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, where Barnes & Nobleâs Web and digital operations are based, rather than at the companyâs stately headquarters on Fifth Avenue, not far away. When he talks, you get the sense that he could be selling just about anything. As it happens, he is selling books. Mr. Lynch says Barnes & Noble stores will endure. The idea that devices like the Nook, Kindle and Apple [ AAPL 447.28 +2.65 (+0.60%) ]iPad will make bookstores obsolete is nonsense, he says. âOur stores are not going anywhere,â he said in an interview this month in his office. He pointed to a surprisingly robust holiday season. In the nine weeks leading up to Christmas, sales were up 4 percent from the previous year. Titles for children and young adults are doing well, partly a result of the popularity of fiction with paranormal or dystopian themes, like âThe Hunger Games.â And in the second half of 2011, Barnes & Noble picked up a big chunk of business from its vanquished rival, Borders.